Have You Tried to Track Down World War II-era Church Newsletters?
During World War II, the church the family attended published a ‘newsy’ newsletter about church members, particularly covering those who were off serving in the military.
My cousin, Peggy recently scanned one of those newsletters. (If you click the newsletter you can see it full size). Published March 4, 1945, it mentioned several men in service including my uncle, Merrill Liebig, and my dad, Herschel Hendrickson.
In November 1944, dad (who was a member of the 26th Infantry Yankee Division) was seriously wounded in France. He was about 150 miles from the Stuttgart, Germany. If you read the newsletter, you’ll see that he was unconscious after being hit, laying on the ground 12 hours. After being found, he was in a field hospital, then two evacuation hospitals in France, two general hospitals in England, a hospital in New York, and finally a hospital closer to home in Springfield, Missouri.
Dad’s route from battlefield to last hospital before shipping to New York on the Queen Mary.
By the way, this is a photo of dad before going overseas. How do I know that? My brother, Mark, pointed out that dad has no battle ribbons on his uniform, so this would have been prior to being shipped to France. That’s his dad with him.
And this is dad after his release from several hospitals, around April of 1945. (With sister Helen, his mom, sister Alice and sister Louella)
What Can You Find in a Newsletter?
You probably aren’t going to find intact church newsletters (these are all paper) from much earlier than World War I, but hopefully some of them have been digitized and can be found online. In fact, unless your family saved newsletters (like Peggy’s mom, my Aunt Helen), or the church archived them, in all honesty I’m not sure how available they’re going to be.
That said, I did get on the phone this morning to try to track down other newsletters from World War II. One call was a total bust, and I’m waiting for a return call from another church. That’s because I discovered the church the family attended until a 1957 move to California is no longer in existence. But the call I’m waiting for is from another church of the same denomination, hoping to give me a contact number. Fingers crossed.
But back to my original question – what can you find? In the few copies of the newsletter that I have, I’ve read about weddings, funerals, gossipy news about church members, and news from servicemen. The information isn’t world-shattering in terms of doing genealogy research, but it does give insight into the times.
And, for me – I knew my dad was terribly wounded and hid all night praying not to be found by the Nazis. What I didn’t know was that he was unconscious a lot of the time. Maybe that helped save him? Who knows. Just finding out that one piece of information helped me know a little bit more about my dad. As he passed away when he was only 44, I just didn’t get much time to know him.