Friday, March 24, 2017

Women's History Month 2017: Gold Star Mothers

American losses in World War I were modest compared to those of other belligerents, with 116,516 deaths and approximately 320,000 sick and wounded of the 4.7 million men who served. The USA lost more personnel to disease (63,114) than to combat (53,402), largely due to the influenza epidemic of 1918.*

The United States entered the war late, nevertheless it would still feel the bitter sting of  the loss that happens with war. That loss had different consequences for each country involved. Great Britain lost a generation of men which in turn affected civilian life (more on that later).

It's not unusual for those that suffer a common loss to find each other. Those US women who lost sons and husbands during World War I were no different and their grief would be felt again and again in later wars.

Out of grief, The American Gold Star Mothers was founded. ""Who is a Gold Star Mother?" During the early days of World War I, a Blue Star was used to represent each person, man or woman in the Military Service of the United States. As the war progressed and men were killed in combat, others wounded and died of their wounds or disease, there came about the accepted usage of the Gold Star."**

You can read more about the founding of the Gold Star Mothers at their website. Some Gold Star Mothers would eventually get a government sponsored trip to Europe to see the final resting place of their son or husband. You can read more about these trips in the National Archives magazine Prologue.

  • Do you have a family member killed during World War I?
  • Have you ordered their military service record?
  • Have you conducted a search for Gold Star Mothers in the  National Archives Catalog?
  • Have you searched the newspaper?
  • Was a female ancestor a member of the American Gold Star Mothers?

Additional Resources:
GenealogyBank Blog - Gold Star Mother's Day
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
FamilySearch Family History Research Wiki - United States World War I Casualty Records

Graham, John W. The Gold Star Mother Pilgrimages of the 1930s: Overseas Grave Visitations by Mothers and Widows of Fallen U.S. World War I Soldiers. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co, 2005.

*"War Loses (USA)," 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War ( accessed 23 March 2017).

**"History," American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. ( accessed 24 March 2017).

1 comment:

J. Paul Hawthorne said...

There is a great database online from the Alabama Department of Archives and History about Gold Star mothers from Alabama. The link is