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There are fewer and fewer Americans who remember that historic day, Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese bombs landed on the American fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Dorinda Nicholson was a schoolgirl living at Pearl Harbor on that day, and her first book, “Pearl Harbor Child,” tells her story plus eyewitness accounts of military and civilian survivors. She maintains a website at

More recently, she has published “The Pearl Harbor Visitor Guide” to where the bombs fell. (“Get Insider tips not available anywhere else — What you need to know before you go — Must-see highlights for each of the 4 sites — Quick reference guide list for each site — Fun for Kids Chapter — Author’s eyewitness attack story — Educator Resources for each site — Over 100 souvenir photos.”)

As someone who met the author at Pearl Harbor’s 50th anniversary commemoration event, I am proud to know the lady who visits schools and tells today’s youth about her experience. She has also written other books for children and teachers. For example, “The Pearl Harbor Warriors” book and DVD tells the story of friendship overcoming hatred between an American Marine who was stationed on board the USS West Virginia, and a Japanese torpedo pilot who was in the second wave of the attack. Visit

She believes it is her mission to bring WWII history to life for young readers.

Civil War photos matched to records

A new website, Photo Sleuth, has been created to match photos of Civil War-era soldiers and, with the help of facial-recognition technology, connect them to the soldiers’ military records. Kurt Luther, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech, and a team of collaborators at the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies are credited with this innovative process.

The initial database contained about 15,000 portraits from public-domain sources, and in the months since it has launch, more than 4,000 volunteers have contributed over 8,000 photos. Read more at

Reference books online free

Two standard genealogy reference books are online — and free. Ancestry’s “Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources” is a guide to what is available for specific states and includes state maps showing the counties and county seats. Although some of the contact information may have changed, the basics are very helpful. Each state’s counties were originally published in table format showing county name, when the county was formed, which counties the new county was created from, and dates showing when each county started recording information.

“The Source” was first published in 1984 and quickly became a standard reference for genealogists covering such topics as census records, church records, court records, directories, immigration records, land records, military records, etc.

In 2010, digitized the content of these two references and made them available in wiki format. Each book’s chapters have been broken down into one or more series of articles, with links available on the websites.

“The Redbook” is at and “The Source” can be found at

FamilySearch celebrates 125 years

FamilySearch began as a state family history society, the Genealogical Society of Utah, on Nov. 13, 1894, and has grown to an organization providing resources to millions of researchers around the world. The details of FamilySearch’s 125-year growth can be read at

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. It is a “nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records and services to learn more about their family history.”

There are 5,000 Family History Centers in 129 countries around the world.

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.