Index to my Military Blog Posts

Captain Gavin Alexander Elmslie Argo of the Royal Army Medical Corp - 21st Field Ambulance

Captain Gavin Alexander Elmslie Argo of the Royal Army Medical Corp – 21st Field Ambulance – Image from Imperial War Museum Flickr account common license.

Index to my Military related Blog Posts – On Friday of this week I am doing a three-hour workshop on tracing your British Army ancestors at the British Isles Family History Society of Great Ottawa conference in Ottawa, Canada. In preparation for that I wanted to pull together an index for the blog postings I have had on the site so far dealing with British military resources and news. Most of the postings have focused this year on World War I, but there are additional items of military interest. Some of the posts explain in detail how to use  or interpret the results found in a military resource, some deal with a search process that by choice has a military example. The list is an index for blog postings so far.

1892 Attestation Form for William Henry Milner into Royal Artillery

1892 Attestation Form for William Henry Milner into Royal Artillery

World War One Soldier’s Documents

WWI Soldiers – Online Records – pt1 Introduction
WWI Soldiers – Online Records – pt 2 case study Albert William Alfred Milner
WWI Soldiers – Online records – pt3 case study William Henry Milner

Tracing Your Dead World War One Ancestors
Highlights how to trace your ancestors who did not survive the war, looking in detail at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission site, published lists in “Soldiers Died in the War”, and what the soldiers left behind (Scottish wills)
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Graves Commission part 1 – case study John Croudace
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Graves Commission part 2 – case study John and Robert Finnigan
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Grave Commission part 3 – advanced search fields
Searching “Soldiers Died in the Great War”
Scottish Military Wills – Tips for Searching, Using the Results and Workarounds
News Release: Historical Wills of Scottish Soldiers Go Online

World War One Related News Stories and calls for assistance
WWI: Operation War Diary – Your Help Wanted
WWI Centenary Preparations by Commonwealth War Grave Commission
News Release: Historical Wills of Scottish Soldiers Go Online
Guardian Newspaper publishes collection of Untold Stories of World War One
WWI Centenary: The Path that led from the Playing Fields to Flanders Fields
World War I Publications on Sale

Tracing Army Officers – Accessing the Army Lists, example is for pre-WWI
Digital Microfilm at TNA – changes coming – Army Lists as example

Boer War – large but incomplete index and how to understand what is in a dataset.
FindMyPast website: Search Techniques Pt. 3 – Search By Record Set

Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Simon Fowler

Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Simon Fowler

Military Book Reviews
Book Review: Tracing your Army Ancestors. Second Edition. By Simon Fowler

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Searching “Soldiers Died in the Great War”

Search results from FindMyPast for John Crondace, who is really John Croudace private in Northumberland Fusiliers

Search results from FindMyPast for John Crondace, who is really John Croudace

Soldiers Died in the Great War and Officers Died in the Great War are two sources to use for those who died during the war, after one has done a search of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission site, explained in three earlier posts (part one for John Croudace – this same soldier, part two and part three).

Soldiers Died in the Great War consists of 80 parts, published in October 1921 by the War Office and printed by His Majesty’s Stationary Office. They have been reprinted by J.B. Hayward. They have been transcribed and issued on CD-Rom and are also available online, and I will return to this later. The original 80 parts cover all British Regiments, Artillery, Engineers, Machine Gun Corps, Service Corps, Labour Corps and miscellaneous units. The people not included in these volumes are the sea soldiers (Royal Marines, Royal Marine Light Infantry or the Royal Naval Division) or the airmen other than the officers of the Royal Flying Corp and those attached to the Royal Air Force.

Search results from Ancestry for John Crondace, actually John Croudace of the Northumberland Fusiliers

Search results from Ancestry for John Crondace, actually John Croudace

The part for each regiment is divided up into battalions with the casualties listed alphabetically by battalion, with the exception of the Worcester Regiment which arranges its section with all the A’s by battalion, followed by all the B’s by battalion.

The information listed includes: surname; first name(s); place of birth; place of enlistment; place of residence (in brackets); regimental number; rank; how died (d.=died; d. of w.=died of wounds; killed= accidentally killed; k. in a.=killed in action; d. at sea=died at sea).

Officers Killed in the Great War is the companion volume to Soldiers Died in the Great War and may give more details on how they died (e.g. as prisoner in German hands, killed by his bearer, murdered by tribesman, etc).

How to get results for John Croudace when there is a typo resulting in John Crondace

Search Screen on FindMyPast for John Crondace / Croudace using * to replace letters in search

Searching Online – can be carried out on both FindMyPast and Ancestry. The database on both sites is the Soldiers Died in the Great War, but it actually includes Officer Killed in the Great War. Both online indexes use the same dataset provided by Naval & Military Press Ltd, thus you are not likely to get any difference in results when searching on one site verses another.

Research Points
– Spelling errors – any printing errors in the original publications, such as in the example Crondace instead of Croudace, will be picked up in the online indexes.
– Casualties in Italy may be labelled as Italy or more likely to be labelled F&F (France & Flanders) so compare with burial site on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website.
– The lists commonly show France & Flanders but you need to check the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website to see if the soldier died in France or Flanders (Belgium).
– Most regiments only record death up to Armistice Day (11 November 1918) thus do not pick up soldiers who were dying of wounds received or who were still fighting in the later campaigns.
– Usually for soldiers only one regiment is identified and this is most likely the one in which he enlisted – which may be different from the one he was attached to when he died. With officers multiple regiments may be identified.
– The rank identified is the highest achieved overseas while on active service and may be a temporary rank.

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Filed under Ancestry, Croudace, FindMyPast, Military, WWI

Early Registration for British Institute closes September 15

Header for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History from their website

Header for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History from their website

Early Registration Closes September 15 for the British Institute.

The 2014 British Institute to be held 20-24 October in Salt Lake City is organized by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History.

This year’s speakers and topics are:

Scottish Research: The Fundamentals and Beyond by Paul Milner
Scottish laws, regulations and records are different from the rest of the British Isles, yet with enough similarities to create confusion for the unwary.  This course will address the fundamentals of all the major record groups, examining how to search the indexes, exploring what is and is not available online. Case studies will highlight the research and record evaluation processes to determine next steps. Individual consultations are available to assist each participant with their personal research.

Researching Your Irish Ancestors by David Rencher
This course is designed to help the student of Irish genealogical research, whether beginning or advanced. Strategies for establishing a sound beginning and building on that foundation using proven research techniques will be coupled with an understanding of what records sources are available online, on microfilm and in Ireland. Individual half-hour consultations are provided with the course coordinator to assist each participant with ways to extend their research.

Welsh Family History Made Simple by Darris Williams
Welsh family history is different from other localities in some significant ways. Those differences are not impossible roadblocks. Understanding the peculiarities is a good first step to success. Record knowledge is important but not the key. Understanding how to search, evaluate evidence and collate information will resolve many difficult research situations. This course will provide examples of problems, aw well as strategies and skills for learning more about your ancestors.

From Simple to Complex: Applying Genealogy’s Standards of Acceptability to British Research by Tom Jones
Through hands-on activities, lectures, and discussions, participants will learn how to use widely accepted standards to measure their genealogical work’s accuracy and to assess others’ genealogical conclusions. In the process they also will learn about genealogical research planning, its implementation, genealogical reasoning, and the preparation of credible genealogical products.

For speaker biographies, details on lodging and registration go to www.isbgfh.org

Yes, I am teaching the week long course on Scottish Research so do come join us.

 

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Filed under England, Events, Ireland, Scotland, Where is Paul?

FindMyPast website: Search Techniques Pt. 3 – Search By Record Set

FindMyPast search for any record set for the Boer War - result Anglo-Boer War

FindMyPast search for any record set for the Boer War – result Anglo-Boer War

FindMyPast Search by Record Set

This is the third post in a series about how to search on FindMyPast.

One of the major reasons for the change in search design was the ability to add databases and images to the collection and to have a standardized way of searching everything at once. Selecting the A-Z of Record Sets brings up a complete current listing of datasets. This is certainly growing as FindMyPast is in the midst of adding 100 datasets in 100 days campaign. These vary in size greatly but can still be added quickly and efficiently.

The first task is narrow down the options. The first way is to define your region – World; United States; United Kingdom; Australia & New Zealand; and Ireland. Even after this search there still likely to be multiple pages to read through. You can read through the list, you can search on a type of record or you can type in a locality (such as the name of a county).

FindMyPast search results for Mosley in Anglo-Boer War Dataset.

FindMyPast search results for Mosley in Anglo-Boer War Dataset.

In this case study I want to highlight what you can learn about the records. Here I am going to select the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902. Selecting the database brings up a search screen, showing the fields on which you can search. This time I am going to search of the surname Mosley. I am looking for Henry Samuel Mosley who served in the Veterinary Corps and was awarded medals during the war.

There are 19 Mosley’s, but no Henry or Samuel and of note no one from the Veterinary Corps. Interestingly, doing what I suggested in the last post, selecting surname variants produces 126 hits. One of those hits is a H.G. Moseley of the Army Veterinary Department who is on Roll 230. This record is a transcript so the original would need to be sought and checked to see if this is a transcription error or not. There is no image of the originals for this collection.

Let’s return to the search screen where when we scroll down the page we find important information about this record set.

FindMyPast - look for the contents and explanation of the contents of the dataset below the search screen

FindMyPast – look for the contents and explanation of the contents of the dataset below the search screen

What can these records tell me? Certainly the first time into any new set of records you should read this. You may also find it useful to read again after you have worked with and become more familiar the record content as you are more likely to appreciate the subtleties of what the information provided is telling you.

In this case study we have drop down menus for: Learn more about these records; Sources used to compile the register; and Details about the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902. The specifics will vary depending upon the record set. For this case study let’s examine the details a little closer.

Learn more about these records: Tells us that the dataset contains 271,771 names, with a completely revised casualty list of 59,000 records. The transcripts may provide: first name; last name; service number; unit(s); rank; regiment; memorials; medals (roll reference and possibly clasp entitlement) honours and awards; literary references; casualties.

Sources used to compile the register: Here is a list of the various sources used to create this compiled dataset. Only with more research will you become familiar with the different sources and what they do or do not provide, which is especially important if you do or do not find the person you are seeking in this dataset. As with any research the probability is high that there are additional sources to be found.

Details about the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902: Here is explanatory information on the sources used to create the database and why it was compiled in the first place; why different and duplicate information can be found on the same soldier; why there are problems with place names and how they have been solved; why the database may change.

Useful Links and Resources: These links are to the upper right of the screen. In this case study it highlights the 1891 and 1901 census returns for England, obviously because many of the men included in the data set will be children or teenagers in the 1891 census, and may be absent, ready to leave, or have returned in time for the 1901 census.

Conclusion – Experiment with and practice with the different search options to find your ancestors. How you search should depend upon what information you are looking for. Importantly when you do find an ancestor, and probably more so when you don’t find an individual you are expecting to find in a given dataset, read the supporting descriptive material as it will explain what you have searched.

Good luck with your searching.

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FindMyPast website: Search Techniques Pt.2 – Search within a Record Category

FindMyPast Search Screen for Census, Land & Substitutes

FindMyPast Search Screen for Census, Land & Substitutes

FindMyPast Search within a Record Category.

In the last post I highlighted how to Search All Records and saw some of the benefits.

In this blog post lets search within a specific Record Category. In this case study I am going to search the Census, Land & Substitutes category. So from the pull down menu on the search bar select – Census, Land and Substitutes. You will see a different search screen appear, different from the one used in the last blog post for search all records.

FindMyPast - Search Results for Surname Milner - 75,551 hits too many to examine

FindMyPast – Search Results for Surname Milner – 75,551 hits too many to examine

Often when you start new research you want to get a sense of how common a name is. So let’s search on Milner and in the Where box I am going to select the United Kingdom. That comes out with 75,551 hits which is too many for even me to search through. The first page of results suggests some early records are coming up from the early 1700’s from the Westminster Rate Books and Cheshire Land Tax Assessments.

I need to edit my search using the big blue edit button on the left of the screen in the box. This time I will limit my search to the county of Kent, where my Milner’s come from. Now I am down to 1,547 with results from various census returns and UK Electoral rolls.

Editing my search to 1851 inserted in the first When box – the other date boxes are for year of birth or year of death (not a good choice for finding a person in the census). Now I am down to 63 results arranged alphabetically by first name.

FindMyPast search results for surname Milner in Leeds Kent England

FindMyPast search results for surname Milner in Leeds Kent England

At this point you could scroll through the list to see who you might be looking for – search for a first name – search for someone else in the house – search for an address. In my case I am going to search on the village of interest – Leeds. I add the name Leeds to the where box. Now I am down to 16 individuals residing in Leeds, Kent in the 1851 census. The year born is provided, though obviously calculated from the age in the census return, so the information is only as accurate as the person giving the age chooses to make it. However, based on those ages you can see that there are multiple Milner families living in Leeds, all of whom are related.

Note in the illustration that the search criteria are in the box to the left of the results. On the right of the line for each individual there are two blue boxes – a camera for an image – a page for a transcript. For the census records you will usually find both. Some searches will only provide a transcript.

Now as a safety precaution I returned to my search results leaving my search parameters the same but selecting the box for surname variants. This time instead of 16 individuals I now have 27 individuals. I have picked up variations with Millner and Milliner, both commonly found in this area. Yes, the individuals are still all related to one another.

You can re-order the results. The results by default will be presented by relevance. There is a pull down menu to the top right of the results box that allows re-ordering by: last name; first name; born; died; event; and record set. Obviously some of these will not do anything depending upon how you have already filtered the results, but in this case it might be helpful to reorder by first name (to make surname variations irrelevant) or by birth year to put them in age order and to find the family patriarchs.

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Filed under FindMyPast, Milner Research, Websites

FindMyPast website: Search Techniques Pt.1 – Search All Records

Opening Screen from FindMyPast at www.findmypast.org when a user is not logged in.

Opening Screen from FindMyPast at www.findmypast.org when a user is not logged in.

FindMyPast has been changing rapidly as it updates its offerings and search mechanisms. This has not been so noticeable for the Americans and Australians, but for the British readers it has been a major change.

The British version of FindMyPast was the original website. It had great content, search tools, and supporting information. However, its design and structure which made it so easy to navigate also made it inflexible when it came to adding additional databases quickly for subscribers to access.

The new design and search mechanisms are the only ones the Americans and Australians have known, but the change to one platform has created turmoil for the British Users who liked the old structure which had not changed for years.

For those who are not yet subscribers to FindMyPast you can do any of the searches without being a subscriber, but you cannot see the transcription details or images without being a subscriber. I think you will find it worth your while to join and explore.

So let’s examine the three ways to search on FindMyPast
1. Search all records
2. Search within a record category
3. Choose a specific set of records

We will explore – Search all records in this post and focus on the other two mechanisms in the subsequent two blog posts.

1. Search All Records

Search Results Screen on FindMyPast for Richard Milner

Search Results Screen on FindMyPast for Richard Milner

From the opening page at www.findmypast.com go to the pull down menu under Search records and select the first option – Search all records

Yes, you may want to start filling in the boxes. First though take notice of the advice on how to get started. The first item is the most important – Start broad, and then filter – this is actually very important and encourages you to do things in the order that the search engine likes.

Start with the boxes across the top first. – Who, When and Where

Who – this is the person or family you are looking for. You can search on exact names or name variants and the first time through the search I go for variants on first name – so I pick up Richard, Rich, Dick or any other appropriate variation, but usually exact on the surname – though I know many of the surnames are commonly found in various forms – Milner, Millner, Milliner, etc.

When – here you have the option of choosing a date for born, died, or a date of a specific event, e.g. specific census. Then with a drop down menu you can choose +/- 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 or40 years.

Where – this provide a drop down box with World, Australia and New Zealand, Ireland, United Kingdom, and United States and Canada. This obviously gives you an idea of where the primary datasets are from. In the box beside the Where you can also narrow the place down geographically

In this case study I am going to search for Richard Milner, born in 1790 +/- 10 years in the United Kingdom. I get 329 results presented in tabular format. In this case we are presented with 10 results and then there is an advertisement for how many times the name Milner was found in British newspapers (1,029 hits). The important point is that the results table continues below this advertisement and you may not catch that depending how it appears on your screen.

FindMyPast search all records for Richard Milner in Kent

FindMyPast search all records for Richard Milner in Kent

If at this stage I narrow my geographic location to Kent, a county in England, my options are reduced to 13, of which only 7 have the name Richard connected with the Milner. Even this simple option narrowed my options.

In the column on the left side of your screen you will see how to narrow down your results. It is best to move down the column in order, unless you know specifically where you are going.

FindMyPast closeup on Narrow Your Search option showing bold and greyed out options

FindMyPast closeup on Narrow Your Search option showing bold and greyed out options

First you will notice that some of the records categories are greyed out meaning there were no hits for the given search parameters in those collections. So for these search parameters I have hits in: Birth, Marriage and Death (Parish Registers); Census, Land & Substitutes; Military Service and Conflict.

If we take a close look at the results page we actually get a good number of records for our man. The first record is his attestation record into the 36th Regiment of Foot in April 1815, just a couple of months before the end of the Napoleonic Wars. This record tells us, among other things that he was age seventeen and born in the village of Leeds in Kent. The fourth result down is the 1851 census where we find the 56 year old laborer and Royal Marine Pensioner from Leeds, Kent living with his 47 year old wife Maria.

Richard Milner, from Leeds, Kent, a 56 labourer and Royal Marine Pensioner with his wife Maria Milner (nee Burress), age 47, in the 1851 Census

Richard Milner, from Leeds, Kent, a 56 labourer and Royal Marine Pensioner with his wife Maria Milner (nee Burress), age 47, in the 1851 Census

The fifth result down is a transcript from the Thames & Medway Marriages database showing that Richard Milner married Maria Burress on 31 May 1833 in St. Margaret’s Rochester, extracted from the parish register. The sixth entry down is an 1862 entry from the September quarter of England’s civil registration for deaths in the Medway District where Richard is residing and would be a possible death record – from this one entry you cannot be certain but it is a possibility.

Thus the benefit of searching everything is the possibility of finding multiple records for one individual. Care needs to be taken to ensure you have the correct person. The only way I know which results are for my Richard Milner is the fact that I have already done the corroborating research on this man.

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Filed under FindMyPast, Milner Research, Websites

Guardian Newspaper publishes collection of Untold Stories of World War One

The Guardian Newspaper has just published online a collection of “Untold Stories of the War” referring to World War One.

These short stories are told by twelve familiar British authors: Jeremy Paxman – HMS Audacious sunk on 27 October 1914 yet spent the whole war on the official complement of the Royal Navy throughout the war; Michael Morpurgo – who after talking with two old veterans decided to write about the war from the perspective of a horse, creating the book War Horse, later turned into a popular movie; Sebastian Faulks – the horrors seen by the soldiers; Margaret MacMillan – Britain declaring war in the “proper manner” , Richard Curtis – discusses the comedy in the War leading to the writing of the sitcom Blackadder Goes Forth and the power of the final minutes of the sitcom; Terry Pratchett – How the soldiers became known as “Tommies”; Pat Barker – the humanizing of the wounded soldiers in the pastels of Henry Tonks a surgeon and illustrator; Richard J. Evans – the surrender of German officer in New Guinea after the end of the war; Max Hastings – the bloodiest day of the war – 22 August 1914 when the French lost 27,000, the bloodiest day for the British was the 1 July 1916 with 20,000 fatalities; Antony Beevor – tells of the divided views of how historian’s view the war, but ends with the personal diary entry of his grandfather-in-law winning the DSO; Douglas Newton – discusses the behind the scenes maneuvering by British politicians that led to its commitment to war; and Helen Dunmore – explains a game of Bomb Ball to be found in an official pamphlet on games, which is in reality an understanding of the rules for handling grenades.

This is a long piece by newspaper standards but worth reading for the fascinating vignettes told about the war.

I want to thank John Reid who brought this to my attention in his blog – Anglo-Celtic Connections.

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Filed under Military, News, WWI

Book Review: Tracing your Army Ancestors. Second Edition. By Simon Fowler

Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Simon Fowler

Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Simon Fowler

Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians. Second Edition. By Simon Fowler. Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK www.pen-and-sword.co.uk. US Distributor: CasemateAthena 908 Darby Road, Havertown PA 19083. www.casemateathena.com. $24.95. Australian Distributor: Gould Genealogy & History, P.O. Box 119, St. Agnes SA 5097. www.gould.com.au. AUS$34.95. 2013. x, 192 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

British Army research is a vast subject. This book breaks it down into manageable pieces. But how one does research depends upon the time period, rank, service specialty and the specific war. So the book’s chapters cover: organization of the army in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the army before 1660; officers; other ranks – enlistment and conditions of service; medals; casualty rolls; discipline and desertion; pension records; militia 1757-1914; women; British in India; dominion and colonial forces; Boer War; First World War; Second World War; 1919-1969. Appendices address: army service numbers; problem solving; TNA research guides; and army ranks. Each chapter begins by providing historical and social context for the subject under discussion. This is followed by detailed guidance on the records, what they contain, how to access them and how to interpret what is found. Most subjects include bibliographies for additional reading. The chapters are well illustrated especially in terms of sample documents.

It should be noted that although there is a growing body of military records available online, it is highly unlikely that it will ever all be online. Many original records will need to be accessed in person, or through hiring another researcher, at The National Archives in Kew.

I have read and used numerous how-to-books over the last 30 years for tracing my military ancestors and can heartily recommend this one. With any good book on the subject there will be a mental interaction with the book saying “I need to try that” or “I need to check out that source”. As you do research you find more about your ancestors, and you learn more. You are in a constantly changing place, and hopefully you have tried the obvious, but maybe you haven’t because more records are coming online all the time. Reading a book such as this will give you additional clues, indexes, sources that need to be checked out making it a book worth reading again and again as you make progress. I know I marked numerous record groups, indexes and published sources that I need to examine for my growing number of army relatives.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Military, Occupations, officers

World War I Publications on Sale

Naval and Military Press Special Great War Catalogue cover

Naval and Military Press Special Great War Catalogue cover

Naval and Military Press has just released a Special Great War Catalog with over 400 titles in this one publication. It provides a full range of Divisional Histories all at 50% off. There are numerous Regimental and Official Histories, contemporary memoirs and more.

Some of the databases sold can be found online at some of the commercial websites so be careful. But this is a goldmine for readers wanting to know that a particular book even exists, or for those wanting to fill in the gaps in their personal library, or wanting to know more about the regiment or division in which their ancestor served, or learn specifics about the battles in which they served or died.

If you have an interest in World War One do download a pdf of the catalog, linked here. One of the benefits of downloading the pdf, or opposed to getting the newsprint version of the catalog which I was also sent, is that you can search it for any regiment, division, battle or word which is very handy in this packed catalog.

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Filed under Military, News, WWI

WWI Centenary: The Path that led from the Playing Fields to Flanders Fields

Here is a good newspaper article in today’s Online Telegraph by Jeremy Paxman looking at “The Path that led from the Playing Fields to Flanders Fields”. It especially examines the role of the public schools in England the role they had in providing officers for the military, and the effect on the schools and their staff – think lots of women coming into teaching for the first time.

 

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Filed under News, WWI