MILITARY RECORDS IN FAMILY HISTORY
©2018 by Donald R. Snow
This page was last updated 2018-04-02.
Go to the Utah Valley Technology and
Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's
Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT: Military records are an important source of family history information since so
many men and women have served in the military in various countries. This class will
emphasize United States military service, but similar information can be found for other
countries. There are many types of records associated with military service including
service records, discharge records, death and burial records, and pensions. We will
discuss finding and using these and others. In the U.S. many military service records were destroyed
in a fire in 1973, but there are other records about those veterans. The notes for this
class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are posted on my website
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
- Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( firstname.lastname@example.org
) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
- The notes with active URLs and
additional information in other notes and articles are posted at
- Tips: (1) To put an icon on your
desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just
drag the icon from in front of the address in
your browser onto your desktop.
(2) To open a link, but keep your place
in these notes, hold down the Control key
while clicking the link.
- The problem for today: What military records are there and how do you find and search them?
MILITARY RECORDS AND HISTORY
- Military records are a valuable family history source and worthwhile to locate and analyze.
- Military words and terms -- https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Military_Terms_and_Abbreviations
- Some major wars the US has been involved in
- Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
- War of 1812 (1812-1815)
- Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
- American Civil War (1861–1865)
- Spanish-American War (1898)
- World War I (1914-1919)
- World War II (1939-1945)
- Korean War (1950-1953)
- Vietnam War (1959-1975)
- Gulf War (1990-1991)
- War in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria (2001-Present)
- Military Records at the National Archives -- https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2002/fall/military-records-overview.html
- Fire at National Archives St. Louis, Missouri, destroyed 75-80% of Army and Air Force records of vets discharged between 1912 and 1964 -- https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Personnel_Records_Center_fire ; no indexes nor films were made before the fire; some service records were not in the files there since they had been requested elsewhere, e.g. from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and therefore may still be available.
- Official home pages and Wikipedia articles of US Military -- they include some links to veterans info and news
- Army -- https://www.army.mil/ -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Army
- Navy -- http://www.navy.mil/ -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Navy
- Air Force -- http://www.af.mil/ -- Up to 1947 the Air Force was the Army Air Corps -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Air_Force and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Army_Air_Corps
- Marines -- http://www.marines.mil/ -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Marine_Corps
- Coast Guard -- https://www.uscg.mil/ -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Coast_Guard
- Merchant Marines -- https://www.navy.com/careers/merchant-marine.html#ft-key-responsibilities -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Merchant_Marine
TYPES OF MILITARY RECORDS
- Service records
- Contains complete orders, medical reports, commendations, discharge papers, etc.
- If you were in the military, you or a close relative can get a free copy.
- Reasons to get your own service record -- so you'll have a copy for backup, for family history, for Veterans Administration info, discounts at various stores,
free food at restaurants on Veterans Day, etc.
- To get yours or a close relative's service record (see definition of close relative on website) go to the National Archives website -- https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records
- Discharge records - Form DD 214 (DD = Department of Defense), military discharge form with vital info, addresses, service dates, and discharge info; free to vets -- http://www.dd214.us/record_locations.html
- Pension Application and Payment Records -- https://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/ -- surviving spouse and/or children can request pensions; applications may exist even if pension was denied; application may contain original records such as marriage certificates, since it had to be official
- Muster records -- https://www.archives.gov/research/military -- files of unit records and compiled military data
- Military unit records - Army, Regiment, Battalion, Ship, Unit -- https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/US_Military_Unit_Histories#Unit_Histories and try Googling the ship or unit, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_John_C._Butler
- Bounty Land Grant records -- lands given to vets after military service -- https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/US_Military_Bounty_Land_Warrants
- Veterans records in county clerk's offices -- sometimes copies of veterans records were placed in county clerk's offices for safe-keeping; hence, copies may be there, even if originals were destroyed
- Veterans Administration records -- https://www.va.gov/ -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Veterans_Affairs
- Military death and burial records -- http://www.dd214.us/funeral.html -- US veterans are entitled to a flag on their casket and Taps played at funeral
- GI Bill records for education, etc. -- may be in state archives, e.g. https://archives.utah.gov/
- For US wars, population, costs, deaths, etc. -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States and https://www.gettysburgflag.com/history-of-american-wars
- FamilySearch -- many military records
- FamilySearch > Search > Military
- FamilySearch > Catalog > Military -- add country to narrow down the results
- FamilySearch > Search > Books > Military -- many books and articles about military records and websites
- Ancestry -- https://www.ancestry.com/ -- free accounts for LDS since Ancestry is a FamilySearch Partner site; then go to website and type in person's name and search for Military Records
- Fold3 -- https://www.fold3.com -- owned by Ancestry; basic free membership, plus two commercial types of memberships; Fold 3 refers to the third fold in the US flag that survivors are given after death of veteran; third fold represents veteran's service to country and family
- HeritageQuest Online -- https://onlinelibrary.utah.gov/ --
available through your public library with your library card bar code; has Revolutionary War Pension records;
also 1890 Veterans Schedules for Civil War
- US state and county military records -- http://www.linkpendium.com/ > [State] > [County] > Military Records -- see the various types and links there
- Cyndislist for Military Records -- https://www.cyndislist.com/military-worldwide/
- National Archives -- https://www.archives.gov/
- US Department of Veterans Affairs -- https://www.va.gov/ -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Veterans_Affairs
RECORDS OF OTHER ORGANIZATIONS RELATED TO MILITARY
- Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) -- https://www.dar.org/
- Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) -- https://www.sar.org/
- Grand Army of the Republic (GAR - for Civil War Union vets) -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Army_of_the_Republic
- For LDS -- Mormon Battalion and Nauvoo Legion
- Veterans organizations -- American Legion , Veterans of Foreign Wars
HELPS AND TUTORIALS
- The FH Guide - Part E: US Military Records in US Genealogy Research
(about 2/3's of the way down) --
https://thefhguide.com/project-9-united-states.html -- instructions, information, videos and more about US military records --
website also discusses military records by state and country -- very helpful, well organized, and free
- FamilySearch > Help Center > Military --
-- lessons, articles, and videos
- FamilyTree Magazine article --
-- good information about military records
- There are many records associated with military service and this class has only scratched the surface --
for others see the FamilySearch Research Wiki, The Family History Guide, and various search engines
- If you were in the military, be sure to get a free copy of your own service record.
Go to the Utah
Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's
Class Listings Page .