Illinois Ancestors | Students helping Army identify soldiers listed MIA

Illinois Ancestors | Students helping Army identify soldiers listed MIA

Students in the family-history program at Brigham Young University — the only university in the U.S. to offer a bachelor's degree in the subject — have been working with the Army to find relatives of some 82,000 soldiers who have gone missing in action back to World War II.

Since starting on the project, the students have been assigned 65 cases and have finished 48. They find surviving relatives so the military can obtain DNA results to confirm identities.

More info, including a video, is available at

It should be noted that genealogist Megan Smolenyak has been working with the U.S. government on a similar project. You can read of her successes in her "Honoring Our Ancestors" newsletter (at, look under "Library" and click "Military" for articles about her activities).

50 best genealogy websites

This column, as well as other genealogy resources, have posted many "best" lists. The results have been similar and, hopefully, helpful. Another "best" list has surfaced — this time on a United Kingdom website called Family Tree. This one is called "50 Best Websites for Family History" and is available at

Of course, FamilySearch tops the list of free sites (which comprise 41 of the 50 entries), and many of the resources are aimed at British research. Nevertheless, the list is sure to include some references that have not been considered before. Be sure to note the recent updates and other articles at the end. Happy hunting!

Free African-American resources online

Family History Daily has posted a helpful website at called "Ten Free Resources for Researching Your African American Ancestors." The website includes links to "Civil War African-American Sailor Search," "Freedman's Bureau Bank Records," "African-American Funeral Programs," "Black Servicemen Revolutionary War Records," "Fugitive Slave Petition Books" and more. Also, some "notable dates to use for reference" include 1619, 1808, 1820, 1861, etc., up to 1870; knowing the importance of such dates can influence research.

National Archives offers black-history help

The National Archives and Records Administration has a helpful black-history website at that offers links to online and agency resources in such categories as slavery, abolition, reconstruction, segregation and black migration, and civil rights.

Included in the many resource links is one to a special issue of Prologue Magazine. The summer 1997 issue (Vol. 29, No. 2) is no longer in print and unavailable for purchase, but all of its articles can be read at They include categories such as "Civil War and Reconstruction," "Labor Issues," "Civil Rights," "Pictorial Records," "Research Aids" and "Genealogy."

Site assists Canadian ancestral research

Ancestral Findings has posted "Resources for Tracing Your Canadian Ancestors Online" at, with links to Canada GenWeb, The Canadian Genealogy Centre, Our Roots and Ancestry. The website also suggests users "get online and start doing Google searches for Canadian genealogy — [and] be as specific as you can with you your searches."

'The Source,' 'Redbook' available online

Two important reference books are now available for free online. The Family History Wiki now provides links to "The Source" and "Redbook" at

For example, after clicking on "The Source," a researcher can choose from a subject in the table of contents, such as the unique topic "Colonial Spanish Borderland Research." Also, from the list of appendixes, one can select "Abbreviations and Acronyms," "Genealogical Societies," "Historical Societies," etc.

"The Redbook" is designed to assist researchers by focusing on localities: "It is an expansive guide to the most useful resources in each of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia."

These two essential references may be too expensive for a personal library, but thanks to this online resource, the reference material is now available to all.

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

Sections (1):Living