GeneaBloggers Members Invited to Celebrate Military Ancestor Memories

Military Memories: 31 Writing Prompts to Celebrate Your Military Ancestors

Members of GeneaBloggers are invited to celebrate their military ancestors during the month of May 2014 by participating in Military Memories: 31 Writing Prompts to Celebrate Your Military Ancestors created by author Jennifer Holik.

Each day in the Daily Blogging Beat, we’ll feature that day’s writing prompt. In addition, we’ll pin those blog posts with an image to the Military Memories Writing Prompts 2014 board at Pinterest.

If you would like to see how Jen has used prompts, family stories, photographs, and research to write WWII stories, please read her new book, Stories of the Lost, which will be released on V-E Day, May 8, 2014, just a few days from now. The book will be available through her Author website.

These prompts were written with the World War II era in mind, but most can be used for any war. Please share your post to FaceBook and Twitter and use the #militarymemories hashtag.

May 1: The Home Front. On the home front, describe your family’s experience during the war. Who did they send to war and when? What impact did your family have on the entire war effort?

May 2: Overseas Service. Was your ancestor shipped overseas? To which theater(s) of war? When did they leave and when did they return?

May 3: Community Impact. Describe the impact the community where your family lived had on the war effort. How many men and women did they send off to fight and serve? Did the community have a war plant? Who worked there? Did any of your relatives work in a war plant or support the war effort through their job?

May 4: The Home Front. Women were primarily expected to run the household, yet some worked in war factories or joined the military. Write about women’s roles during a war. Did your grandmother work as a Rosie the Riveter? Did she work outside the home in another capacity?

May 5: Women in the War. Did any of your female ancestors join the military during WWII? Examine the reasons why a woman joined the Armed Forces in WWII. What did she contribute?

May 6: Military Service. Was your ancestor drafted or did he or she enlist in the military? Where did he or she train? What was the training experience (camp, training, education, treatment, etc.)

May 7: Overseas Service. Each battleground was different. The D-Day beaches were different terrain than the Ardennes Forest or North Africa or Korea or the air over Germany. Describe the locations where he or she moved from place to place during the war.

May 8: V-E Day. Today is Victory in Europe (V-E) Day. Do you have any V-E Day stories from your family? Where were your ancestors and what were they doing on V-E Day?

May 9: Race and Ethnicity. Consider how ethnicity and race affected people during WWII. For example, during World War II in the United States, Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps and African-Americans were segregated in the armed forces. Did this affect your family? How?

May 10: The Home Front. What was the sendoff to war like for your ancestor? Was there a big family party or a town parade? Next, discuss the homecoming if he or she survived the war. Finally, if your soldier did not survive the war, what was their homecoming like if their remains were returned?

May 11: The Home Front. Did your family experience rationing during the war? Discuss what items were rationed and how the family was affected.

May 12: Overseas Service. Describe the living conditions of your ancestor during their military service. Did he or she sleep in a tent; barracks; bombed out buildings; on the frozen ground? How often did they get a hot meal or a shower?

May 13: Women in the War. A lot is written about men in World War II but have you considered women were just as powerful as men during WWII? Write a brief piece on how you viewed your female ancestors as powerful during WWII.

May 14: Soldier Stories. Have you ever used word play to help you write? Sometimes trying our hand at something different helps grow our writing skills. We have all seen movies about D-Day. Use any or all of these words to tell the story of a D-Day soldier.

Motto: 29 Let’s Go!
enemy roar and smoke
blood stained beaches
absolute terror
thunderous noise

May 15: The Home Front. On the home front, the view was that men should go off to fight. There were some with statuses that prevented them from serving. Did any men in your family not go off to fight and if so, why? What was his part of the war effort if he did not serve in the military?

May 16: Overseas Service. Were any of your ancestors taken as a Prisoner of War? What was their experience?

May 17: Communication. During World War I and II, word traveled by mail, telegram, and on the battlefield, telephone. It took weeks before families were notified of wounds, Prisoner of War, Missing in Action or Killed in Action statuses. Today the communication is almost instantaneous because of cell phones and the internet. Write about communication during the war in which your soldier fought and compare that to today’s communication.

May 18: Communication. Newspapers can add a lot of details to a soldier’s story beyond that of his service. Think about the battles fought, the terrain, the enemy, and the weather. Use newspapers for facts that add depth to a story. Did your soldier fight on D-Day or in the Battle of the Bulge? Perhaps in the Pacific? Locate stories about the weather for major battles in which your soldier fought. Write a scene using the weather to tell a battle story.

May 19: The Home Front. Did any of your female ancestors lose a husband? How did that affect the family? When we think about the word ‘lose’ consider those men and women that came back from the war changed in some way either mentally or physically. Did any of your family’s soldiers live in a Veterans Hospital after the war? How did that affect the family?

May 20: Holidays and Celebrations. How did your family celebrate holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries during the war years? Items on the home front were rationed and on the battlefield, soldiers were lucky to have a hot meal on a major holiday. Do you have any letters from soldiers that talk about the holidays? Do you have photographs of family holidays at home?

May 21: Race and Ethnicity. Is your family Jewish? What was their WWII experience? Do or did they share their stories? How did their experience shape your life? If they left Europe before the war, what happened to their families? What did they endure in the U.S. while the war was fought in Europe? If they remained in Europe – what was their story?

May 22: Military Service. Did your soldier die in service? Do you know that story and have you obtained the records to tell that story? Were any personal effects returned to the family?

May 23: Propaganda. Think about the propaganda at the time of the war. How did that help or hinder support?

May 24: Communication. Do you have any letters, diaries, photographs, or post cards from your military ancestor? Write about their service using these items.

May 25: The Home Front. Think about the clothing, shoe, and hair styles of the war days. How did they change from before the war to after the war? Do you have photographs or stories in your family about how this aspect of their lives changed?

May 26: Remembrance. Today is Memorial Day. How do you honor those in your family who died in military service on this day? Do you have any stories or photographs of Memorial Days from years past? Particularly after the war when families would visit cemeteries more often?

May 27: Overseas Service. Engage the senses. As you write a story about your solider, talk about the smell, sights, and tastes of war. What is seen and experienced?

May 28: The Home Front. Did any of your family live in Europe or the Pacific theaters of war during WWII? Did they remain there after the war or emigrate? How did the war affect their decision to stay or go?

May 29: After The War. Write about life after war. What did your ancestor come home to when his or her service ended? Marriage? A job? Family? College? Did he or she enlist to serve again?

May 30: After The War. How did the WWII era affect your family from then until now? Did someone lose a spouse and remarry? Were there blended families? Did the patriotism and desire to join the military become instilled in every generation that followed?

May 31: Soldier Stories. As we conclude Military Memories, I have two prompts for you today. 1. I am grateful for the service of my ancestors because …….. and 2. I am grateful for the service of today’s soldiers because ………

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

MyHeritage Reaches the 5 Billion Record Mark!

MyHeritage has an exciting announcement today – they now have over 5 BILLION records available for genealogy and family history researchers! Check out the neat infographic below for some iconic names found in the MyHeritage records:

MyHeritage Surpasses 5 Billion Historical Records

A Special Discount Offer for GeneaBloggers Readers

Thanks to MyHeritage for providing this special offer to readers of GeneaBloggers: click here to get 50% off the normal price of an annual membership which includes access to all 5 billion records at MyHeritage!  This offer expires on 1 May 2014 so act now!

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Review: Bloglovin

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One of the members of GeneaBloggers contacted me with questions about the blog aggregating site Bloglovin ( After some extensive research concerning the need to “claim a blog” and the use of “framing” to view blog posts, I concluded that others likely had similar questions. So here is my review of Bloglovin and its use as a possible substitute for the now defunct Google Reader or other RSS feed readers such as Feedly.

Bloglovin Overview and Basics

You sign up for Bloglovin and then you search for blogs you want to follow and add them to your feed. Then when new blog posts are published, you go to Bloglovin and view the new posts.

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Click on the blog post title and you’ll be able to read the entire blog post, albeit inside a Bloglovin frame (see below).

Does Bloglovin’s Use of Frames Violate Copyright?

One of the main concerns with Bloglovin is the default setting to display the contents of a blog post with the Bloglovin toolbar/frame at the top. Look closely at the URL and it is “” . . . and not the URL of the original blog post. There is an “X” off to the right that allows me to remove the frame and proceed to the original post. But by this time, I figure Bloglovin has already gotten some of the traffic, right?

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See Have We Been Lied To About Bloglovin? and How Bloglovin’ ate my blog (and yours too) for recent blogger concerns about Bloglovin’s practice of framing content.

Courts in the US have not yet developed conclusive case law on the issue of framing and copyright. Some see framing as not violating copyright since the original work product is not altered in any way; it is simply delivered with a “wrapper.” See Connecting to Other Websites.

Bloglovin’s contention is that its framing makes it easier to read the next blog post in your list of followed blogs and perform other operations such as sharing to Facebook etc. Funny, but with my Feedly account, I can do all these share functions in the condensed view and still click on the original blog post link and see the original content outside of Feedly. Is Feedly in fact framing as well and am I just splitting hairs? Does Feedly get any “traffic juice” in its framing process? I’ll do more research on how Feedly handles content . . . another review on the horizon!

There is a way to remove the frame permanently, but only for your account as a user of Bloglovin: go to Bloglovin Settings and scroll to the bottom, and in the Other section, select “I don’t want the frame” and click Save settings. There is no way to remove your blog from Bloglovin’s listings or the remove the frame from your blog post content when other Bloglovin users access it.

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Personally, I’m not a big fan of “opt out” functions like this one at Bloglovin; if you want me to use your frame, then pitch it to me and make a good argument for it. Otherwise don’t force me into it. This practice an “option” does not make.

Claiming Your Blog on Bloglovin

Yes, there is a process where Bloglovin strongly suggests that you claim your own blog. This is done through the Bloglovin Settings:

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Click Claim blog and search for the name of your blog. Bloglovin will then prepare a snippet of html code for you to include on your site.

This process will “verify” your blog back to Bloglovin. Of course, it also builds a back link from your blog to Bloglovin (which helps build Bloglovin’s page rank). By now you’re understanding the business model Bloglovin has here and how it all works, right?

I realize that like genealogy records providers such as, RSS feed readers and content aggregators can’t be entirely “free.” There has to be some way to generate income (freemium model) or at least traffic. Feedly doesn’t have a strong “push” to claim a blog; they do however provide you with code for a “Follow me on Feedly” button to place in your sidebar.


Bloglovin is an easy-to-use content aggregator geared towards discovering new content and its target demographic seems to be users who are not bloggers themselves and are unfamiliar with the RSS feed reader concept. Will Bloglovin bring your blog or website more traffic? In the long term, probably but only if the user opts out of the framing option. Content consumers who want a more robust platform and one that doesn’t force them to opt out of content framing, would likely do better with Feedly or one of the other Google Reader alternatives.

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry and other industries, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee