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Tracing Your 
Canadian WWI 
Ancestors 
Presented by May P. Chan 
Prairie History Room, Regina 
Public Library 
November 15...
Agenda 
Brief Introduction 
Researching Your WWI Ancestors 
General Research Tips 
Case Study using primary records – ...
Brief Introduction 
 World War I is also known as First World War or the Great 
War 
 Began July 28, 1914 (Austria-Hunga...
General Research Tips 
1. Get as much information as you can about the 
individual you are researching: 
• Full name of th...
Cenotaph for Guelph, ON 
photo credit: 
http://ancestorsatrest.com/cenotap 
h_records/guelph_cenotaph.shtml 
Butts, Ed. “T...
Case Study 
Ernest Harry ANTILL 
Name: Ernest Harry (Jr) 
ANTILL 
Born: 1876 in Hathern, 
Leicestershire, [England] 
Death...
What are my research steps??? 
Ernest Harry ANTILL’s military file 
Attestation papers 
Service File 
War diaries and ...
Canadian Genealogy Centre 
- Library and Archives Canada (LAC) 
http://tinyurl.com/cangencentre 
Great starting place for ...
Subject Guide to WWI 
http://tinyurl.com/ktwzy4k
Soldiers of the First World War: 1914-1918 
http://tinyurl.com/lac-cefdatabase
Link to the 
full service 
record!
Ernest Harry ANTILL 
Attestation Papers 
Attestation Paper is the agreement that the individual signs saying he will serve...
Ernest Harry ANTILL 
Service Record 
Guide to help you read the service 
record: http://tinyurl.com/ocr86dx
Ernest Harry ANTILL’s military will 
Ernest Harry ANTILL’s eligibility 
for war medals 
Other records found in the 
Servic...
Surprising addition…. 
 Letter found middle of 
the file 
 Dated January 29, 1991 
 Letter indicated that 
Ernest Harry...
War Diaries and Unit Histories 
 Service file only 
provides you with 
where and when the 
individual served and 
what ha...
War Diaries of the First World War 
Database 
War diaries can only be 
searched by unit name, 
date or by the year only 
...
Some Notes on Using War Diaries 
 CEF authorized 260 numbered infantry battalions but 
only 52 battalions were sent to th...
Entry for 5th Battalion Infantry 
August 1917
Alternative Sources for Regimental 
Histories and General Information 
Internet Archives 
(https://www.archives.org/detai...
Commonwealth War Graves Commission 
http://www.cwgc.org/
Battles and Battlefields 
Photo Source: 
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia 
.ca/en/article/hill-70/ 
 Don’t forget to lo...
Additional Military Resources 
 Library and Archives Canada’s Canadian Genealogy Centre 
(http://tinyurl.com/cangencentre...
Additional Military Resources 
Canadian Great War Project (biographical info, 
letters & diaries; 
http://www.canadiangre...
Military Resources continued… 
Lives of the First World War (Imperial War 
Museum) (military lists & stories; 
http://liv...
Prisoners of the First World War, the ICRC Archives 
http://grandeguerre.icrc.org/
Select Bibliography 
Military Records 
Cox, Kenneth G. Call to Colours: Tracing Your Canadian 
Military Ancestors. Toronto...
Select Bibliography continued 
General 
Pitsula, James M. For All We Have and Are: Regina and 
the Experience of the Great...
Additional Genealogical Information 
What happened to the soldier’s family??? 
Census records 
E.g. Ernest ANTILL’s case...
1916 Prairie Census – Ernest ANTILL 
Ernest H ANTILL (age 36) living at 945 Haultain Street 
Wife: Eliza ANTILL (age 35) 
...
1916 Henderson Directory for Regina 
Photo credit: 
http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/ 
image-image.aspx?id=1294#i1
1920 US Census - Eliza ANTILL 
Eliza ANTILL (age 40) is living as a boarder in Aurora Ward 1, Kane, Illinois. 
She is list...
Additional Genealogical 
Information…continued 
 Immigration records 
 Passenger lists 
 Naturalization records 
 Webs...
Newspapers 
 Newspapers 
 Digital versions of the 
Morning Leader (Leader 
Post) newspaper via 
news.google.com/newsp 
a...
Conclusion 
 Broaden your research – try to understand the 
context by looking at the regimental histories or the 
specif...
The End 
Email: maychan@reginalibrary.ca 
Presentation: 
www.slideshare.net/maychan
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Tracing Your Canadian WWI Ancestors

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From 1914 to 1918, nearly 630, 000 Canadian men and women served in the First World War, which claimed over 60, 000 lives. This presentation discusses key facts about the war, where to look for Canadian military records, and offer research tips for those studying ancestors who served in the conflict.

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Tracing Your Canadian WWI Ancestors

  1. 1. Tracing Your Canadian WWI Ancestors Presented by May P. Chan Prairie History Room, Regina Public Library November 15, 2014 © 2014
  2. 2. Agenda Brief Introduction Researching Your WWI Ancestors General Research Tips Case Study using primary records – e.g. CEF military files, regimental war diaries, military graves, maps and newspapers Additional Bibliographic Resources Additional Genealogical Research Conclusion
  3. 3. Brief Introduction  World War I is also known as First World War or the Great War  Began July 28, 1914 (Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia)/August 4, 1914 (Britain and Belgium declares war on Germany) and ended on November 11, 1918  Estimated 9 million soldiers and 7 million civilians died in or as a result of the conflict  Approximately 66, 655 Canadians were killed and 172, 950 were wounded (Cox, 131)  About 19, 666 Canadian soldiers have no known grave (Cox, 131)
  4. 4. General Research Tips 1. Get as much information as you can about the individual you are researching: • Full name of the individual • Basic vitals (birthdate, birth year and birth place) • Branch of Service—eg. Army, Air Force, Navy, etc. 2. Don’t forget to look beyond the individual’s military/personnel files! For example, look at regimental histories to find out where the regiment was assigned and what battles they fought in. 3. Always record and evaluate your sources!
  5. 5. Cenotaph for Guelph, ON photo credit: http://ancestorsatrest.com/cenotap h_records/guelph_cenotaph.shtml Butts, Ed. “The Guelph Cenotaph: Names of the Fallen From the First World War (1914-1918).” Orangeville, 15 June 2014. http://tinyurl.com/khu4ll9. Accessed 6 November 2014.
  6. 6. Case Study Ernest Harry ANTILL Name: Ernest Harry (Jr) ANTILL Born: 1876 in Hathern, Leicestershire, [England] Death: KIA August 15, 1917 - Fought in the 5th Battalion, Saskatchewan Regiment - Died at Hill 70 - He has no known grave - Commemorated on the Vimy Memorial Source: The Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial (http://svwm.ca/)
  7. 7. What are my research steps??? Ernest Harry ANTILL’s military file Attestation papers Service File War diaries and Unit Histories Cemeteries and Battlefields Other Military Records – depend largely on the individual’s service file Other Genealogical Records
  8. 8. Canadian Genealogy Centre - Library and Archives Canada (LAC) http://tinyurl.com/cangencentre Great starting place for tracing your Canadian military ancestors!!!
  9. 9. Subject Guide to WWI http://tinyurl.com/ktwzy4k
  10. 10. Soldiers of the First World War: 1914-1918 http://tinyurl.com/lac-cefdatabase
  11. 11. Link to the full service record!
  12. 12. Ernest Harry ANTILL Attestation Papers Attestation Paper is the agreement that the individual signs saying he will serve in the military. The document lists address, place of birth, occupation, next-of-kin, previous military service and distinguishing physical characteristics.
  13. 13. Ernest Harry ANTILL Service Record Guide to help you read the service record: http://tinyurl.com/ocr86dx
  14. 14. Ernest Harry ANTILL’s military will Ernest Harry ANTILL’s eligibility for war medals Other records found in the Service File!
  15. 15. Surprising addition….  Letter found middle of the file  Dated January 29, 1991  Letter indicated that Ernest Harry ANTILL had four children  Letter writer was Ernest’s nephew, Leslie ANTILL, who was living in New Zealand at the time the letter was sent
  16. 16. War Diaries and Unit Histories  Service file only provides you with where and when the individual served and what happened  To understand why a unit was sent to a particular battlefield, you need to track down the regimental histories http://www.collectionscanada.gc.c a/archivianet/020152_e.html
  17. 17. War Diaries of the First World War Database War diaries can only be searched by unit name, date or by the year only  No full text search of the images  If you don’t know the specific unit’s name (e.g. Regina Rifles), start with the generic name of the unit (e.g. 5th Battalion)
  18. 18. Some Notes on Using War Diaries  CEF authorized 260 numbered infantry battalions but only 52 battalions were sent to the battlefields – it helps to know what unit your ancestor fought in  handy online guide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_infantry_battalions_in_the_Cana dian_Expeditionary_Force  Cox, 144-147: brief description about the organizational structure of the CEF with a 2 page chart with divisions included which battalions  Not all of the regimental diaries have been digitized!!! Depending on the regiment, you may need to plan a trip to Ottawa to view the microfilm or hire a researcher  Amount and level of detail of content in the war diaries vary greatly
  19. 19. Entry for 5th Battalion Infantry August 1917
  20. 20. Alternative Sources for Regimental Histories and General Information Internet Archives (https://www.archives.org/details/texts) – some published regimental histories Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org) – info on specific regiments Websites on specific regiments Don’t forget to check your local public library for published books!!!
  21. 21. Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/
  22. 22. Battles and Battlefields Photo Source: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia .ca/en/article/hill-70/  Don’t forget to look at books, exhibits and maps pertaining to specific battles and battlefields  E.g. Hill 70 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hill_70 https://legionmagazine.com/en/2012/03/vimy-a-battle-remembered- hill-70-a-battle-forgotten/
  23. 23. Additional Military Resources  Library and Archives Canada’s Canadian Genealogy Centre (http://tinyurl.com/cangencentre) - FREE  Court Martials of the First World War (http://tinyurl.com/pagbknh) – FREE  Royal Canadian Navy Ledger Sheets 1910-1941 (http://tinyurl.com/nahjkna) – FREE  Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca) - $ but free if using RPL’s Ancestry Library Edition database (in house database)  Queen’s Canadian Military Hospital Registers, 1914-1919  Ledgers of CEF Officers Transferring to Royal Flying Corps, 1915-1919
  24. 24. Additional Military Resources Canadian Great War Project (biographical info, letters & diaries; http://www.canadiangreatwarproject.com) – FREE The National Archives (UK) (http://tinyurl.com/y7cjyng) – FREE READ their subject guide as access to the military personnel records varies!!!
  25. 25. Military Resources continued… Lives of the First World War (Imperial War Museum) (military lists & stories; http://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/) – FREE but $ for premium content such as the military personnel files and UK census records National Archives and Records Administration (USA) (http://www.archives.gov/research/military/) - FREE
  26. 26. Prisoners of the First World War, the ICRC Archives http://grandeguerre.icrc.org/
  27. 27. Select Bibliography Military Records Cox, Kenneth G. Call to Colours: Tracing Your Canadian Military Ancestors. Toronto, [ON]: Ontario Genealogical Society, Dundurn Press, c2011. Wright, Glen. Canadians at War, 1914-1919: a Research guide to World War I Service Records. Milton, ON: Global Heritage Press, 2010. “Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War.” The Regimental Rogue (http://tinyurl.com/6q8vn84) – FREE
  28. 28. Select Bibliography continued General Pitsula, James M. For All We Have and Are: Regina and the Experience of the Great War. Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba Press, [2008]. First World War (multimedia; http://www.firstworldwar.com) –FREE Europeana 1914-1918 (multimedia; http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en) - FREE
  29. 29. Additional Genealogical Information What happened to the soldier’s family??? Census records E.g. Ernest ANTILL’s case: 1916 Prairie census and the 1921 Canadian census as well as the 1920-1940 US federal censuses as it appears that Ernest’s widow, Eliza, moved to the US sometime in the 1920s City directories – useful for tracing family members between census years
  30. 30. 1916 Prairie Census – Ernest ANTILL Ernest H ANTILL (age 36) living at 945 Haultain Street Wife: Eliza ANTILL (age 35) Children: Earnest W (age 7), Archebald H (age 5) and Trevor C (age 0)
  31. 31. 1916 Henderson Directory for Regina Photo credit: http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/ image-image.aspx?id=1294#i1
  32. 32. 1920 US Census - Eliza ANTILL Eliza ANTILL (age 40) is living as a boarder in Aurora Ward 1, Kane, Illinois. She is listed with 2 of her children, Trevor (age 4) and Harry (age 2). She is widowed and living with the Thompson family (landlords). Mystery arising after looking at the 1916 Prairie census – what happened to her two older sons, Earnest W and Archebald H?
  33. 33. Additional Genealogical Information…continued  Immigration records  Passenger lists  Naturalization records  Websites and message boards  Antill website: www.antill.org.uk  Interesting factoid: Ernest ANTILL (father of Ernest Harry) ran a photography business in Hathern, England Ebay: http://tinyurl.com/l4q4jd3
  34. 34. Newspapers  Newspapers  Digital versions of the Morning Leader (Leader Post) newspaper via news.google.com/newsp apers  Tip: Begin to look about 2 weeks (average length of time for family to have received word from the battlefront) after the death date of the soldier for the death notice New newspaper digitization project: Saskatchewan Historic Newspapers Online (SHNO) - http://sabnewspapers.usask.ca/
  35. 35. Conclusion  Broaden your research – try to understand the context by looking at the regimental histories or the specific battles  Don’t forget that every soldier left family members behind – what happened to them?  Consider and contribute what you have found out about your WWI ancestor(s) to museums, archives, and libraries  Saskatchewan Military Museum – www.saskatchewanmilitarymuseum.com  Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial – www.svwm.ca
  36. 36. The End Email: maychan@reginalibrary.ca Presentation: www.slideshare.net/maychan

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