Military Records in Your Family Tree

Do you have an ancestor who fought in one of the American wars? I have found that Ancestry.com has many records available. Their Military Collection includes:

  • Draft, Enlistment, and Service
  • Casualties
  • Soldier, Veteran and Prisoner Rolls and Lists
  • Pension Records
  • Histories
  • Awards and Decorations of Honor
  • News
  • Disciplinary Actions
  • Photos

The records that I use most often are the draft cards for World War I (1917 to 1918) and World War II (1942). These records include full names, birth dates, birthplaces, residential addresses, and employment. They also list height, weight, eye, hair, and skin color.

You can narrow your search to different branches of the military or view state registers. For the USA alone, there are over a thousand different collections. I recommend using the Card Catalog if you are looking for a more specific search.

If you cannot find your ancestor on Ancestry, there are other websites online. There is the National Archives, which is free, or Fold3, which is a paid subscription. Find A Grave also has international sites for veterans memorials.

I remember searching for my aunt’s first husband back in 2017. I came across his obituary on the website, Veterans Funeral Care. I had very little information on him at that time, his name, birth date, and birthplace. I entered this data into my search engine, and up popped his obituary. It was a very unexpected surprise!

The obituary provided a history of his life which I was able to use on his Ancestry profile page. It was information that I would not have gotten anywhere else on the internet.

You may also find that your ancestor received a medal or citation for service in the military. I will add a note to his timeline and a photo, if available.

Always make a point of honoring and paying tribute to your military ancestors. Pay them homage in your family tree for the brave souls they were. They fought these wars to protect their families and to ensure that they would prosper.

If you know of any other websites, please leave your message in the Comments Section of this page. I would love to hear from you. Thanks, Donna.

Photo by Ben Hendricks on Unsplash.