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Forwarded by: Leanne Whitfield

Common research options include:

  • Review the military service records at the National Personnel Records Center. These records include information on all Army service members from the Revolutionary War on, and many service members — regardless of the branch of service in which they served — during the 20th century. You might be hard-pressed to find records on your relative if he or she was discharged from the military between November 1912 and January 1960. An unfortunate fire claimed these records that had not previously been transferred to a safer medium, such as microfiche or electronic copy. Records from A through Hubbard, James E. were the ones destroyed.
  • Fires in 1800 and 1814 claimed military records for Army and Navy veterans of the American Revolution, War of 1812, and the Civil War. The War Department began to replace these records with a reconstruction project in 1894. The War Department has compiled documents of military veterans who fought during these crucial American wars and aptly named the documents a “Compiled Military Service Record.” Those wishing to study their ancestor’s military service can review this compilation of muster and bank rolls, hospital records, prison records, payroll records, and the enlistment and discharge papers.
  • Another option is to review pension documentation. All military service members and their widowed spouses receive a military pension after their service, provided they were discharged honorably. Pension paperwork covers any military service member who served between 1775 and 1916, and is considered to be one of the genealogical finds for those seeking their family member’s military history. The primary reason is the mound of paperwork that must be submitted when applying for the military pension payments.
  • World War I draft registration records are available to the public and can be found at the National Archives, Southeast Region, East Point, Georgia offices. These records provide key information, such as name, spouse and children, birth date and birthplace, occupation, the nearest living relative, and even a physical description of the young man registering for the draft. If your relative was born between 1873 and 1900, chances are he registered for the draft and you can find information about him in these records. Those seeking draft information surrounding WWII vets are limited to descendants born between April 28, 1877 and February 16, 1897; the rest of the draft records for this war are sealed from the public and protected under privacy laws.
  • Did your relative possibly fight somewhere between 1775 and March 3, 1855? If so, research bounty land records. These records provide information about military service members who fought during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the early Indian and Mexican wars. The federal government granted land to military service members who suffered hardship during their tenure during these wars, so if your relative fought during this time period, he might have applied for one of these land grants and the records should be on file.


Here are some helpful resources to get you started:

National Archives: Genealogy Research in Military Records

Washington State Library: Selected Military Genealogy Holdings (PDF File)

State Historical Society of North Dakota: Archives — Military Records

Michigan Department of Education: Military Records

New York State Library: New York State Military Records

National Park Service: Historical and Genealogical Research Family History and Genealogy

Florida Department of State: Genealogical Collection

Tennessee Secretary of State: Research and Collections

Free Library of Philadelphia: Military Records

Kentucky Historical Society: Online Genealogy Resources

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission: Military Records

Ohio Department of Veteran’s Affairs: Military Records

Fairfax County Virginia: Genealogy and Local History

Indiana State Archives: Genealogy

Maine: Genealogy Resources

University of Maryland: Military Genealogy

University of Delaware: Military Records

The Libraries at Alfred University: Military Genealogy

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