It all began with a medal.

Many military families create display cases to showcase service to their country. Genealogist Denise Olson’s husband, his father and his grandfather all served in the Army. After her father-in-law passed away, the Olsons took a closer look at one particular WWI-era medal in his collection. Denise explains, “The silk ribbon was falling apart. During our efforts to replace the ribbon we learned the small star just below the bars was a silver star. That kicked off a search to find out what my husband’s grandfather did to earn that distinction and other information about his service.”

This mystery inspired the St. Johns County Public Library System’s Southeast Branch Library WWI Genealogy Research Study Group. Finding military records and information can be tricky without an experienced guide. As President of the St. Augustine Genealogical Society, Denise is skilled at searching several types of records. Some resources include databases, online guides, and her genealogy toolbox Tumblr blog. Denise has also graciously donated print copies of books on genealogy to the library system. To further your research, SJCPLS also offers in-library access to, a popular online genealogical research tool.

The group meets at the Southeast Branch Library on the first Tuesday of the month from 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., February 4 through May 5, 2020. Everyone is welcome but registration is required. Register at the Southeast Library in person or call (904) 827-6900. Come join Denise as she searches the present for links to the past!