The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, with the support of the Doughboy Foundation and others, is making available a free digital download of Debra M. Dudek’s World War I Genealogy Research Guide: Tracing American Military and Non-Combatant Ancestors.

The book’s Table of Contents includes WW I Research Online (U.S.), State Specific Collections and Resources, Essential Records at the National Archives, Naturalization and Enemy Alien Records, Non-Military Women’s WWI Records, and a Short Guide to Researching Canadian Military WWI Records. This Guide (in PDF format) can be requested at the WWI Centennial Commission website at

Dudek is head of Adult and Teen Services at the Fountaindale Public Library District in Bolingbrook, Ill. Her website at offers a link to a helpful step-by-step checklist for locating resources and records of WWI participants.

The site also has information on the print version of her book (now in a 2nd edition), published articles, and upcoming speaking engagements. (Members of the Illinois State Genealogical society are fortunate to have received the society’s Quarterly; the Spring 2019 issue included her article, “Finding Your Illinois Ancestor Who Fought in the Great War.”) Her WWI Genealogy Research Guide should be in of every genealogy library.

Free website data

FamilySearch was an innovative website when it was introduced 20 years ago, May 24, 1999 — with free access to the world’s genealogical records.

“Traffic on the site was so extreme at the time of the launch that we had to limit user access to 30 minutes at a time. … People didn’t go away. When they were timed out, they would just log right back in to finish their search.”

The site “now boasts more than 7 billion searchable names and more than 3 billion searchable images of historical records.” And it’s still all free. The complete announcement can be read at

“FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Honoring Our Ancestors

Megan Smolenyak’s May 22, 2019 issue of her Honoring Our Ancestors Newsletter (at contains several items of interest.

She has called attention to a timely Washington Post article, “Our National Memory is Endangered,” due to budget constraints. (Everyone suffers when we fail to pay what it costs to maintain our National Archives. Read the article at Two more Korean War heroes’ remains (PFC Sterling Geary and Sgt. Frank Suliman) have been identified and “returned home.”

There are several articles about the new Statue of Liberty Museum that is set to open May 16. The article, “Mystery of the Millionaire Hermit” (and search for his heirs), is most remarkable. A researcher needed only three hours to identify Smolenyak from her DNA — highlighting” the threat to privacy from genetic databases.”

Thanks, Megan, for bringing such news to our attention.

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing