Ancestor Research – Army Records
Men and women have been fighting and waging war since our country’s history began, so if you are doing your ancestor research army records are a good place to begin, and easy to find online.
Everyone has ancestors who were in the military at some time in history, and finding those army service records will help fill out your family tree. However, I have seldom heard a veteran, or heard about a veteran, who cared to talk much about the war they were in and their involvement. You can do your own research and look up the actual records, without leaving your home.
First, sign up with the official army records database and find out when and where the family member served, and his or her branch and rank. Then look through the house and see if you can find photographs, newspaper clippings, diaries and correspondence they may have sent home. If you put flowers on the family graves, look to see if there is a military marker on a grave. The government may have provided a plain gravestone.
Maybe, you will find an old khaki colored garment or even a uniform or a navy pea coat or a heavy woollen cap… these are clues to broaden your search and look for military records. You might even find a sword or a gun.
The US Census records have a column pertaining to military status. The 1840 census asked for the names and exact ages of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services. You can search for Revolutionary War records. Pensioners included both veterans and widows.
Since the United States Federal Census for 1890 was all but completely destroyed in a fire in January 1921 at the Commerce Building in Washington D.C., the 1890 Veteran’s schedule is an alternative means of documenting veterans or widows of veterans from the Civil War and War of 1812 who were still living and collecting pensions in 1890.
This census asked whether a person was a soldier, sailor, or marine during the Civil War or a widow of such a person, when enlisted and the length of service and any disability incurred. Practically all of the schedules for the states Alabama through Kansas, and approximately half of those for Kentucky were destroyed, possibly by fire, before the transfer of the remaining schedules to the National Archives in 1943.
The 1910 census asked whether a person was a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy. The 1930 census asked whether a person was a veteran of the US Army Military or Naval Forces, yes or no and whether you were mobilized for any war or expedition.
WWI registration records are easily found as 24 million registered for the WWI draft in 1917 and 1918. They show name, age, address, citizenship, color of eyes and hair, build, names of parents or nearest relative. The name of the employer is also listed and the cards are signed by the registrant. Similar records are available for World War II. There are 8 million names of U.S. Army enlistees for the years 1938-1946.
It is well worth it to search for your family members by searching the records for army service history online – and this will fire your enthusiasm to build the complete family history archive!