Stories Behind the Stars

I would like to make you aware of a project that may be of great interest to your organization and many of your members.

I am the director of a non-profit initiative known as Stories Behind the Stars, under the auspices of The Greatest Generations Foundation.

The ambitious goal of this project is to collect short profiles of all of the 400,000+ US World War II fallen in one online database. There will be a smartphone app that will allow anyone visiting a war memorial or cemetery to scan the name of the fallen and get a link to automatically take them to his/her story. This will work at Arlington National Cemetery, Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, even memorials in Washington state. It will make visits to the final resting places of our World War II fallen a much richer experience. Whereas now, a visitor just sees names and dates, when this project is finished, a visit to any WWII memorial or gravesite will come with that person’s story.

As a genealogy organization, you are aware that resources online now make genealogical research easier than ever. I learned this first hand over the past three years. I have had a lifelong interest in history, and particularly enjoyed reading memoirs. After the 2016 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a lot of news coverage was given to the remaining World War II veterans. It bothered me that little attention was given to any of the 400,000+ fallen who did not come home. WWII memoirs all mentioned how much these fallen meant to a victory they did not enjoy. I decided to do something about this.

I began a daily personal passion project to start writing about these mostly forgotten heroes. Each day I wrote a profile of one of the fallen on the 100th anniversary of his/her birthday. I recorded these stories in a  blog at www.ww2fallen100.blogspot.com. I shared it with various World War II groups on Facebook. Others started joining me to write these stories and there are now more than 1,200 of these short profiles, including more than a dozen from Washington (see http://ww2fallen100.blogspot.com/search?q=washington) that have been read more than one million times. The newspaper in the town where I grew up, the Pueblo Chieftain, did a story about my efforts that was picked up by many papers around the country (see https://www.chieftain.com/7070e3a4-c500-11e8-9745-33c162a7202a.html). The project was slated to end this September with the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. However, at the encouragement of others, I decided to expand this project so that the stories of all of the 400,000+ US World War II fallen can be told.

The 400,000+ number is very daunting, but it is much more manageable for western states. In the case of Washington, WWII losses were probably around 6,000. I already have access to a database that has 5,000+ Washington related names. I just need help finding people who want to write profiles of the Washington fallen.

Ancestry.com has generously agreed to provide free access to their research tools (Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com, and Fold3.com) to anyone helping me with this project.

I created the website www.storiesbehindthestars.org to promote and manage this project. Though it just barely started, I already have volunteers helping from a dozen states.

The reason I am contacting WSGS is that I am sure you know of many, many Washington residents who would be interested in helping with this project. I need volunteers to research and write the stories of these ~6,000 Washington World War II fallen. It takes less than 45 minutes to research and write the average story. I have created a YouTube page (see https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6iv4ZzBam5y_yXk546P7Fu6bEIrz9jb5) with short training videos showing how to do the research.

Can you share information about my project with your members? At this time of social distancing, I think this project would be a wonderful use of time for those with their skills.

Feel free to call or email me to move this discussion further.

Thanks,

Don Milne

Stories Behind the Stars Founder and Director

don@storiesbehindthestars.org

Colorize your Black & White Photos

I’m happy to share that My Heritage is giving everyone FREE and unlimited access to MyHeritage In Color™ from March 23 to April 23, so that people everywhere can join in the fun of colorizing their black and white photos. Ordinarily only 10 photos can be colorized by users who do not have a Complete plan, but now, you can colorize as many photos as you’d like for free.

Colorizing photos is the perfect activity for anyone who is isolated at home. We invite everyone to pull out their family photo albums, colorize their photos, and start reminiscing. Over the coming month, anyone who shares their colorized photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #ColorBeatsCoronavirusBlues and tags @MyHeritage will enter a weekly draw. Each week we’ll select one lucky winner who will receive a free MyHeritage Complete subscription!

Please share the news on your social channels and with your audience so they can make the most of this opportunity and colorize their photos.

Closing of Seattle National Archives

Officials from Washington DC were in Seattle meeting with Puget Sound Native American Tribes: Click Here to read the whole story. https://mynorthwest.com/1715022/national-archives-tries-re-set-seattle-closure/

Meanwhile, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson continues to weigh legal action, and last week sent document requests to multiple federal agencies involved in the Seattle facility. Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is leading an effort to identify alternatives to the priceless materials being shipped to California.

Closure of Seattle National Archives

Closure of the National Archives in Seattle

On Monday, January 13, 2020, the staff at the National Archives at Seattle received notification that within the next four years, the facility will be closed, and the records will be transferred to the NARA facilities in Kansas City, Missouri or Riverside, CA.

The National Archives at Seattle  has 50,000 case files from the Chinese Exclusion Act from Chinese who entered the U.S. through the ports of Seattle, Sumas, Port Townsend,  Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Vancouver, B.C. from 1882 to 1943.  A dedicated staff of local volunteers is indexing these files.  If these records are moved 1,000 miles away, this valuable work will end.

Anyone who has ever gotten research assistance from the National Archives staff appreciates their vast institutional knowledge of the records. This will be lost if the National Archives is closed and moved from the Pacific Northwest.

More background information on the closure can be found at Save National Archives at Seattle.

For a thorough discussion of the proposed closure and updates go to Feliks Banel’s My Northwest online column

See Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB) for the complete report. Submit your comments to the PBRB at  fastainfo@pbrb.gov

Call the National Archives at 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or contact them at archives.gov/contact

Please call your senators, congressional representatives and let them know you want these records to remain at the National Archives in Seattle.

Thank you.
Trish Hackett Nicola
Blog Editor

Closing the Seattle National Archives

Seattle Branch of the National Archives to Close

Posted on January 25, 2020 by Leland Meitzler

It has been announced that the Seattle branch of the National Archives is being closed. I’ve spent a lot of time researching at the Sandpoint Way facility. Not only did I research my family (using the Federal Census microfilm prior to digitization), but I’ve done a lot of local history research, most relating to the early history of Pierce and King County, Washington. That was all working with original documents. However, the biggest losers in the move may be the many Native American tribes of the area – some 272 of them!

They say that the records can be stored in Kansas City and Southern California. Historians researching Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho will have a long way to go to search the records. They say that .001% of the collection is digitized, so that’s not going to help. This is about the money. I’d bet that no one working on the OMB board that made this decision has Pacific Northwest roots. Suddenly it all comes close to home, making us realize how much power a few unnamed bureaucrats in D.C. have over us lowly taxpayers.

Following is an excerpt from an article published in the January 25, 2020 edition of the Seattle Times:

The decision to pack up and move the National Archives at Seattle to Southern California and Kansas City, Missouri, has rattled those who have spent hours doing research in the mammoth facility.

A panel charged with looking at ways to trim federal properties deemed excess has recommended the 73-year-old building and its 10-acre site be sold. The U.S. Office of Management and the Budget (OMB) agreed and announced its decision late Friday that the facility should be closed.

“I’m deeply disappointed that OMB failed to heed bipartisan Congressional requests & approved selling #Seattle’s archives facility w/out engaging state & local officials & affected communities as required by law,” tweeted Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Democrat whose 7th Congressional District includes the Sand Point archives property.  “We must get answers about why the law wasn’t followed in this case.”

The move comes despite a letter sent Friday to the OMB  by   all senators from Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Idaho, and eight of the 10 Washington state representatives to Congress. The letter concluded the recommendation to close the archives “was flawed” and should be rejected.

On Saturday, after learning of the approved closure, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell said, “Trying to move these articles from the region with their historic content just shows an absolute disregard for the importance of them and their significance to our region.”

Read the full article.

Thanks for letting me post this Leland.