Using Military Records to Build Your Family Tree

Are you trying to build a family tree and searching for information on long lost relatives? Military records may be exactly what you need to fill in the gaps. Whether it’s a good thing or not, almost ever generation in every major country has gone to war.

As a genealogist, the records kept during these times can be valuable information. Here are a few steps to take in using military records to build your family tree.

Determine If Your Family Members Ever Served In The Military

In addition to speaking with family members and asking who served in the military and when, you can also investigate census records, newspaper clippings, death records, obituaries, and old family photographs.

Some communities even have museums dedicated to founders and typically include a collection of photographs. You can visit these museums in the cities where your family members lived and research ancestry and potential military service there.

Understanding Types Of Military Records

* Military service records – These records are available through the National Archives and the National Personnel Records center. They’ll contain information on all enlisted individuals who served in the Army in addition to discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century.

* Compiled military service records – While most of the records of the American Army and Navy were destroyed by fire in 1800 and 1814, a project to reconstruct those lost records was begun. You can find some information including hospital, enlistment and discharge information specifically for veterans of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

* Pension records – the National Archives has pension applications and records of pension payments for veterans, their widows, and other heirs for service individuals between 1775 and 1916. This can be one of the most useful military records because the information often contains discharge papers, narratives, marriage certificates, and birth and death records.

* Draft registration records – More than twenty-four million men born between 1873 and 1900 registered in one of three World War I drafts. These draft registrations cards may contain such information as name, birth date and place, occupation, dependents, nearest relative, physical description, and country of allegiance of an alien.

* Bounty land records – Land bounties were awarded to a citizen as a reward for service or hardship during wartime. The information compiled may include birth and death certificates, discharge papers and so on.

Finding Military Records

All records listed above can be found at the National Archives and the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). For each type of record, there are forms to be filled out to gain access to them. You can visit the offices online and request records or send a letter.

Military records can be a valuable source of information when it comes to building your family tree. Not only can you learn about who served and when, you can also learn when they were born, died, who they were married to and other useful genealogy information.

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Next article: Using City Directories to Locate Accurate Genealogy Information

About the Author Admin

Internet Specialist by trade and passionate about my family's history, I set out to try and reconnect the many lost connections with my paternal family.

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