This website is being used to preserve the documents that were
found among my father's (Frank Shields) possessions
when he died in 2014. They have been divided into two main
sections: one for paper documents (letters, brochures, ticket
stubs, certificates, legal documents, etc.); the second section is
for visual material such as slides, negatives, photos, video, etc.
There is also a small section for audio recordings.
The two main sections are:
- The paper documents are mostly letters received and saved by
Frank, his mother Gen, and his sister Dot
during WW II. Although he didn't collect letters
he received, the letters sent by Frank's brother Joe
also form an important part of the collection. After WWII, Frank
continued to collect mail to him from his siblings, co-workers,
children - everyone, really. In addition to letters, Frank also
kept such ephemera as baseball tickets, train schedules, grade
school report cards, work papers, etc.; these are included in
the collection. There are also a small number of documents that
predate WWII; these are mostly documents related to Frank's
parents or other ancestors.
Photos is the collection of photographs,
negatives, slides and even some 8mm film found among his
possessions. Most are photographs that Frank took, although some
(particularly the earliest images) were taken by other
There are a number of reasons why I scanned the documents and am
making them available on this website. The primary reason is
to enable other family members, particularly my siblings and
cousins, to have greater access to their parent's generation. The
WWII letters are from a time that none of us lived through, and
the discussions that occur in the letters show our parents at a
pivotal time in both history and in their formation. I believe
they provide significant insight into how they changed and matured
over time. Particularly since children tend to see their parents
in a much different light than other adults, these letters afford
a view of them as "regular" (i.e. non-parental) people.
It is also my hope that generations beyond mine will also find
this material of interest. For direct descendants of the
principals involved, it will give a much better idea of who their
ancestors were than can be obtained from looking at a family tree.
Others beyond my family may find this collection to be of interest
in that it covers a single family with multiple members over a
significant portion of their lives: from before WWII to the 21st
Century. While there may be other such collections available on
the web, to date I have not found them; most such collections of
letters tend to be from or to a single person, and consisting of
letters ONLY. If this collection is as unique as that seems to
indicate, then it may be of value to researchers in the future.
Both projects are on-going: new pages of documents and
photographs are being added on a regular basis. To receive
announcements concerning changes and additions to the Files or Photos
pages, just send an email to email@example.com
and you'll start receiving the announcement emails. Such
announcements generally occur every couple of months at
What's in the collection
Shortly after Frank (Francis J. Shields
IV) passed away on 2/15/2014, we (his children) started
going through his belongings; we always considered my father to be
something of a pack rat, but were surprised to run across boxes of
old letters (bundled with rubber bands) and other old documents in
various boxes and containers. None of his children even knew these
documents existed, but as we went through them, it became clear
that he had started to collect letters sent to him near the
beginning of the war, and had later enlisted his older sister (Dot,
a WAC stationed initially in GA) to do the same. Both would
send those letters to their mother Gen from time to time
and she saved them for Frank.
were writing to each other fairly regularly, the collection
contains quite a few of those letters. While not every letter was
saved, I believe the majority were. In addition to letters
from those three, mail received by them from friends and other
relatives has been preserved. Primary among these are letters to
Gen, Dot & Frank from Joe (Dot &
Frank's brother) who joined the Army Air Corps in 1942.
Other letters are from High School friends of Joe & Frank,
people Dot or Frank befriended while in the service, and even some
from relatives of friends who were killed in the war.
In addition to the documents, there were also thousands of
pictures and negatives. While many of these are from more recent
times (70's and later), there are also quite a few (especially
negatives) that date back to WWII or earlier; there are even a
couple of tintypes from the 1800's. Since I'm sure many of these
have never been seen except by Frank and his siblings, it quickly
became apparent that these photos and negatives represent some
significant history of our parents and grandparents.
Also among Frank's possessions were several audio cassette tapes
and even one 78 RPM vinyl record. The cassette tapes are all from
1969 or later, while the record was recorded in January of
1948. These recordings have been digitized and are available
from the website; their main contributions are the voices of
Frank, his parents and siblings.
Since the letters and pictures reference a LOT of different
people, it can be difficult to identify who's who. So a "Rogue's
Gallery" of information has been set up to help identify the
people who most commonly are seen or referenced. Given the large
number of people involved, the Gallery will also be an on-going
effort: new records for relatives and friends will be added as
time allows. Check back regularly to see if new people have been
Layout of Frank's Files web page
Frank's Files was the first project started,
and the layout of the page has evolved a bit over time, and may
continue to do so. The basic layout is a table of documents,
starting with the first paper scanned. As new documents are
scanned, they are added at the bottom of the list. Information
about each document is kept in the table; the following fields are
Since the vast majority of documents are correspondence (letters,
vmail, telegrams, etc.), the layout is biased towards that type of
document. For other documents, the From field indicates who
the document relates to, if anyone; it may be blank if the document
isn't specific to a person (such as a train schedule). For the Summary,
particular attention is paid to Gen, Chief, Dot, Joe, Frank, Ronnie,
Vee and Betty if they are mentioned in a letter. Click on this link if you need a guide
to which Francis Shields is which.
- Num - Sequence number; this is the order in which the
documents were scanned.
- Date - For letters, the date on the letter itself,
postmark if no date in the letter. This field is a link to the
actual document; it will appear in a separate tab in your
browser (assuming your browser supports that). This allows you
to view multiple documents at one time.
- From - The sender of the document for letters.
For other types of documents, this is who the document is about.
- To - Recipient of the letter. Blank for most
other document types
- Type - Type of document: Letter, Card, Postcard, Vmail, Clipping, Telegram, etc.
- Location/Keywords - The location of the sender, if
known. Other keywords as appropriate.
- Summary - What the document is about. For letters,
this includes the major topics and people discussed.
- Comments - Information about the document itself. Used
as needed; most documents do not have any comments. There are a
few comments that occur most frequently:
- Full Transcript - This will appear as a link; clicking the
link will take you to a transcript of the document. Often,
this is easier to read than the original.
- OCR Enabled - The document was scanned with software
designed to recognize typed characters. This means the
contents are searchable through Google or other search
Navigating the page
Since there are more than 1,000 documents, navigating a table with
that many entries can be a problem. So the table has been set up
with Sorting and Filtering capabilities. The table can be sorted by
the Num, Date, From, To, Type and
Location/Keywords fields: simply click once on the column
heading to sort the table in ascending order, click on it again to
sort in descending order. For example, to see the letters in
chronological sequence, click on the Date heading. Or to
see the most recently added files at the top rather than the bottom,
click on the Num heading twice: the first time will sort it
low to high - the order in which they were scanned - while the
second click will sort it high to low, thus showing the most recent
Given the large number of documents,
it's likely that you may want to restrict the set of documents
displayed in the table. Thus, the filtering capability can be used
to accomplish that; it is the first row in the table under the
Column headings, and the capability of the filter depends on the
type of data in that column. For the From, To and Type
fields, the filter is a drop-down menu that will let you select
one of the values for that field. For other fields such as the Summary,
the filter is a text box that allows you to enter a keyword; hitting
the enter key after typing in the keyword will result in showing
only those rows whose Summary contains that keyword.
For the Date field, you can type in a specific date
(MM/DD/YYYY format) and that will show documents that match that
specific date. But you can also specify a range of dates and
see only those documents that have a date within the range. To
do that, you must enter a more complex search command in the text
field. As an example, to find all documents whose dates are between
3/1/1943 and 6/1/1943, you should enter '>=03/01/1943
&& <06/01/1943' (without the quotes) in the date
For more information about using complex filters, click on the ? icon on
the top-right of the table.
When you filter the table based on a field, the column header will
change color to indicate that field is being filtered. You can
filter by more than one field, and each column header will change
color. To stop filtering on a particular field, either select "Show
all" or clear the text box and hit "Enter". To clear all filters at
once, click on the "clear filter" icon (a crossed-out funnel) at the
top-right corner of the table header.
It is allowed to both filter the table AND to sort the resulting
entries. First apply any filters you wish, then click on the column
heading to sort by that field. For example, you can filter for
documents in a specific date range (see the example above), then
sort the data into chronological order by clicking on the Date
Photos web page
While there are many documents in the collection, there are even
more photographs and negatives. Many of the photos, negatives or
(later) slides were bundled together in envelopes or other
containers, so I've taken the approach of scanning the images into
sets that [usually] represent some such "bundle". While some of the
sets contain images that are clearly related, in others the
association between the images is at best murky or non-existent.
Where possible, I've created links from one set to another for
images that I believe are related. Some sets are formed from
loose collections of negatives or photographs. Ex: Set-026.
In order to avoid too many duplicate images, I have tried to scan
negatives first, and photographic prints later. This has allowed me
to occasionally skip creating a duplicate when I have both the
negative and a print for the same image. And since negatives will
generally produce a better scan result, this allows for an improved
image as well. But some duplicates still made it through; when I
know that a duplicate exists, I try to create links between them
since other images in the two sets may be related.
Layout of Frank's Photos page
The main web page for Frank's Photos is
again a table; the Columns are:
As with the Frank's Files page, the table
has some sorting and filtering capabilities. The Description
field can be filtered for keywords using the first row under the
column headings. A good use of that capability would be to enter the
name of a particular person in the Description text
box. The Set Name field can be filtered by clicking on
an entry in the list of sets that can be found under the column
heading. To select more than one set, use Shift-Click to select
additional individual sets or Control-Click (Command-Click for Mac
users) to select a range of sets. You may scroll the list to find
the sets you're interested in.
- Thumbnail - This shows a thumbnail version of one
image in the set. In early sets, this is random, but in later
sets it's chosen to be representative of the set, at least to
the extent possible. This thumbnail is a link to the
page showing all the photos in the set.
- Set Name - Each set name is of the form Set-XXX, where
XXX is the sequence number of the set (the scan order,
basically). The name of the set is also a link to the
page for that set.
- Number of Pics - This tells you how many images there
are in the set. This can vary considerably from set to set.
- Source - Indicates whether the images are from Negatives,
- Description - A general description of what's in the
set. If all the photos in a set are related, then the
description will generally be short. If the collection is large,
or contains many unrelated photos, then some attempt to list the
major photo sequences in the set is attempted. Each set
description has an Appearing line: The names of
Shields relatives who appear in one or more photos in the set
are listed. This can be used to find sets that contain a picture
of a specific relative.
Any of the fields can be sorted by clicking on the appropriate
Photo Set pages
After clicking on the thumbnail or the set name on the Frank's Photos page, you'll see the Photo
Set page for that set. The top of the page shows you the name
of the set. There are icons on either side of the name that will let
you navigate sequentially through the photo sets. There are also
some other icons near the name; click
here to find out what they do. The main portion of the page is
a table, with one row for each image in the set. The columns in the
- Num - The sequence number of the photo. If you need to
refer to a photo in an email, use this along with the set number
to identify a particular photo. For example: IMG-025-001 (a photo of
Gen and baby Dot). That's the first photo in the Set-025 set, of
- Thumbnail - A small image of the photo; it is a link
to the full-size image. Clicking on the link should bring up the
full sized photo in the same tab in your browser. Use the "back"
button to resume viewing thumbnails in the set.
- Date - If the date of the photo is known, it is given
here. Sometimes only a year is known, and that will be given. If
there is some doubt about the information, but it is generally
believe to be correct, the date will be followed by a question
mark. Ex: "1927?"
- Location - Where the photo was taken, if known.
- People - Names of people in the photograph, if known.
Some information to identify them if needed. Names are generally
given as the people appear in the photo, left to right.
- Description - Any information about the photo that
might be relevant. If the image is from a photograph and
information was written on the back, it will appear here. This
is where links to photos in other sets will be put as they are
At the top of each photo set page
is a box containing some picture numbers. By clicking on a number,
a slideshow will start using the selected picture. The slideshow
images will be 3/4 the size of your browser page; this makes them
bigger than the thumbnails but smaller than the full-sized image.
Clicking on the image itself will go forward though the images.
There are links at the bottom left to navigate both forward and
backwards from the current image, along with information about
which image you're viewing. At the bottom right is an "X" that
will close the slideshow. This option is offered as an alternative
to clicking on each thumbnail and then having to go back to the
photo set page to see the next photo.
After some experimentation, I've found that having the image change
every few seconds was annoying, so the slideshow won't actually
switch from one image to another: you have to either click in the
image (to go forward) or use the navigation icons.
Quality of scans
A word about quality: I purchased a scanner designed for scanning
negatives and photographs. Negatives are scanned at 800 DPI or
greater, with smaller negatives being scanned at higher densities. So a large-format negative would be scanned at
800 DPI, while a 35mm negative is generally scanned at either 1200
or 2400 DPI. While I do use the scanner software to reduce the
effects of dust and scratches, I generally do not do any post-scan
image processing for the simple reason that it would take years to
complete this project if I were to do so. Also, a lot of the photos
will never be of interest to anyone ... like everyone else, Frank
& Family often took pictures that were out of focus, or used the
wrong light settings or were simply an accident of clicking the
shutter. But if someone wants to have a cleaned up version of an
image, or wants one scanned at a higher resolution (to allow larger
reprints for example), then I am willing to rescan or touch up
the images. See the What's Next section.
All documents are scanned at 300 DPI. That should make them
readable at full size without the need to go above 100%. If there's
a reason you think something should be scanned at a higher
resolution, let me know (and provide the document number!).
Documents that are typed are generally scanned using OCR software: a
few days after being uploaded, their contents can be searched for
via the web (such as Google).
Several Icons will be found throughout the web pages. You can
generally tell their meaning by allowing your mouse cursor to
hover over the icon: an explanation of the icon's function will
appear. Of course, that doesn't work for mobile devices, so here's
what the icons mean:
|Go to Previous or Next photo set. These
icons let you traverse from one photo set to another without
having to go back to the main Photo Set page.
||Access this page.
||Go to the main Frank's
Photos page. You can navigate to any of the photo
sets from that page.
||Jump to the Frank's
||Jump to the Shields Audio Recording page.
|Go to the Rogue's Gallery, which will show
images of the major "players" in Frank's
Files or Frank's Photos.
|| Send an email to the mailing list. Do
this if you have any corrections or questions about the
information you're seeing. Hopefully, someone on the list
will know the answer if you have a question.
||Link to the mailing list archive. Whenever
a mail is sent to the mailing list, a copy of the mail is
kept in the archive. That way, discussions concerning
interesting pictures or contents of the letters can be
viewed by others at a later date.
Help improve the pages!
As you look through the documents or photographs, if you have any
information that might be relevant to the item but it is not shown,
please send an email with the information along with the name of the
document (FFDoc-XXXX), photo set (Set-XXX) or image (IMG-XXX-YYY) to
mailing list. Unless I have conflicting information to the contrary,
I will attempt to add that
information to the appropriate web page(s) as soon as I can.
Especially with the photographs, there is a LOT of information that
is unknown; often locations, dates and people in
the photos are completely unknown. If you know any of
that information, please send it to me!
If you have any questions about the documents or photographs, you
can also send that to the Ffiles
mailing list; that way, if I don't know the answer, someone
else on the mailing list might. But if you want to send me a private
note, then use my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're reading this, you probably are related to Gen & Chief
in some way. Please, please help add to our information about these
documents and photographs. To join the mailing list so that you can
see all email sent to it, send an email either to Ffiles@woodandcraft or
and you'll start receiving announcement whenever something new is
added to either of the main pages.
As I mentioned earlier, if there is a photograph (or even a
document) that you are particularly interested in, then I'd be
willing to re-scan the photo/negative at a higher resolution and
use some post-process image tools to improve the look of the
image. If you want that, please send an email to me at email@example.com.
Finally, if you just want to browse through the correspondence
and photos, then enjoy!
Write to me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions!
copyright 2014-2018 Francis J.