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Teaching Myself (1940's) History

I have to admit, I haven't always been interested in history - family, American, or World.  I sat through my classes in high school, memorized the names and dates we were told to, and immediately forgot ...a lot...of what I (didn't) learn.

The phrase, Teach yourself history by doing family history, is so insanely true.  My poor husband, who aspired to be a history teacher, just shakes his head and laughs when I would ask him questions such as "This American ancestor died in France in 1944 - what was going on then? Why did he die over there?"  

Thankfully, I know better now.

For instance, I now know when the Civil War was, and I also can tell you with certainty that it was the SECOND World War that my grandfather fought in and not the first.  (Sorry, grandpa, for aging you prematurely all these years.)  I do, however, tend to forget that World War II affected the entire country, and not just those who enlisted and served in the military.  World War II was more than my grandfather serving in the army overseas.  World War II was also the farmers in rural northwest Ohio.

I've added a photo here of a "War Ration" book that was among my grandmother's things passed on to me by my mother a few years ago.  She thought I'd like to have it with my newly discovered interest in all things historical and family related. 

(Ashamedly) I had no clue as to what it was. 

This book is filled with multiple pages of stamps that my grandparents would tear out as needed for purchasing items such as sugar, coffee, meats & cheese.  In a nutshell, for those who don't already know - During the war, it became necessary to ration food, gas, and clothing in order to control supply and demand and deal with the shortages of items that were not as readily available.  There were red stamps, blue stamps, red points, blue points...I'm sure it was difficult trying to keep it all straight.  But the sacrifice was necessary.

And while we're talking about what was going on in the 1940's, my grandparents had also recently been included on a new federal census.  My maternal grandparents were - I hope - in Paulding County, Ohio.  At least that's where I plan on looking for them on April 2 when the 1940 census images are FINALLY released.  My paternal side?  That's slightly trickier since they were not yet married, but I believe that my grandmother was in Converse, Indiana - although I was just told yesterday that they moved around town a lot depending on where they could find the cheapest rent.  Super.  As for her future husband?  I'm going to start in Williams County, Ohio and keep my fingers crossed. That's where he was in 1930.  By 1940, however, I'm unsure if his parents were still married which means it could be anyone's guess as to where he was living.

Do you know what would make this all so much easier?  Having the 1940 U.S. Federal Census indexed and searchable by last name.  I know that one day soon enough it will be, and the sooner the better.  But the only way that will happen is by getting us all to help volunteer.  Feel free to head on over to The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project and look into the effort to help get the 1940 Census indexed as quickly as possible, making it easier for everyone to search through.

Who knows, we all may even learn a little history in the process ;)



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