Friday, December 09, 2005

Fire is certainly the bane of genealogists

George G. Morgan - Genealogy Columnist and Speaker wrote:-

Fire is certainly the bane of genealogists. I often think about what research progress I could have made if the 1890 U.S. Federal Census had not been lost in the Commerce Department building fire on 10 January 1921 and to water damage. Courthouses destroyed by fire during the U.S. Civil War, either by troops or by citizens wishing to prevent opposing troops gaining access to records, also have stymied my research.

Another catastrophic fire occurred on 12 July 1973 in St. Louis, Missouri, at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Between 16 and 18 million official military pension records were destroyed and many more were damaged. For many of us whose ancestors and relatives served in the United States Army and Air Force in the 20th century, the loss is horrendous. It is estimated that 80% of the records for Army personnel discharged from 1 November 1912 to 1 January 1960, and 75% of the Air Force personnel records for personnel discharged from 25 September 1947 to 1 January 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.) were lost. continued - Alternative Service Records

burnt records site:uk - Google Search

'burnt records' W0363,
Unfortunately the Germans bombed the Great War records in the Blitz. Only 33% survived

more than half of their service records were destroyed in September 1940, when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in Arnside Street, London. However, an estimated 2.8 million service records survived the bombing or were reconstructed from the records of the Ministry of Pensions. This means that there is a roughly 40% chance of finding the service record of a soldier who was discharged at some time between 1914 and 1920.

The so-called 'Burnt Documents' - are located in the series WO 363. Due to fire and water damage, they are too delicate to be handled and are consequently only available to the public on microfilm
The National Archives | Exhibitions & Learning online | First World War | Service records

The service records in the series WO 364 - the 'Unburnt Documents' - were recovered by the War Office from the Ministry of Pensions and other government departments after the Second World War. They mainly concern men who were discharged (with pensions) from the army because of sickness or wounds received in battle between 1914 and 1920. Aside from the usual military forms, most of the individual files in WO 364 thus also contain detailed medical recor

in USA burnt records site:gov - Google Search

Indiana Commission On Public Records - Records Preservation: "A highly fragile document that is burnt (brown in color) or readily crumbles when handled is deacidified by spraying the document with a magnesium carbonate solution which neutralizes existing acids in the paper and leaves behind an alkaline buffer that can absorb surrounding acids"
NARA - National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis - National Personnel Records Center


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