Veteran’s Day is only a few days away so Elizabeth O’Neal’s November Genealogy Blog Party theme – Remembering Veterans and Military – is quite timely.
Veteran’s Day is technically a day to honor living veterans who have served in our military, but I have no living family members who served and I’ve already written about deceased family members with military service.
Instead, I’d like to share some tips and resources for finding military records of our ancestors.
Tip #1 – Fold3, a subscription site, has an incredible number of historical military records.
If you don’t have a subscription at the moment, did you know that your local Family History Center should have it available? If your answer is “but MY local FHC DOESN’T have it,” then ask the center director to contact the Family History Library for the authorization code to add it to the center’s computers.
A friend of mine who worked at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for decades said that any subscription site available in the FHL can be added to computers at any FHC, as the licenses are available and ready to assign.
That way, when searching for specific military records, you can head to the FHC with a flash drive, view and save the pages, and head back home.
Tip #2 – Wikipedia is an excellent resource to learn more about regimental activities in which your ancestor might have taken part or about battles that took place in a particular war.
I recently researched information about the Royal Fencible Americans during the American Revolution and about whom relatively little is known.
Not only is there a page about the regiment on Wikipedia, when I scrolled to the bottom of the page, I found a short bibliography along with a short list of external links with more information:
Tip #3 – Besides Wikipedia, there are (free) websites devoted to the military history of wars.
A search for Maine Civil War Regiments brought up several hits, including Wikipedia and the FamilySearch Wiki.
However, it also brought up the Maine State Archives with many live links.
Also, don’t forget to search Google Books. I had about 15 pages of hits in Maine governmental statistics books for my 2X great grandfather’s brother’s service in the Spanish American War. I learned about military shooting contests in which he had taken part, his rank changes as the war went on and reimbursements he received for expenses in Cuba.
Tip #4 – A great resource for both joining and learning more about your family member’s military service is a military lineage society. There are too many out there to create one comprehensive list here, but I will list a few:
United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada – Yes, Americans with Loyalist ancestry can join as associate members. Full members still give allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.
There are so many different lineage societies related to Civil War service that I won’t even try to list them!
This is just a sampling of the MANY military lineage societies out there.
Cyndi’s List has a very lengthy, multiple page section on military and war lineage societies.
Tip #5 – If you are lucky enough to own a family member’s military ribbons, but don’t know what they signify, there are websites that will provide answers. For example, Medals of America has a photo display of medals and ribbons awarded by all U.S. military service branches, along with the years each was awarded. Click on the tab in the upper left corner.
Tip #6 – Lastly, on Veteran’s Day this year, take a moment to thank the veterans you know and remember that freedom is not free. Many have served faithfully to support our values and way of life.
Thank you to each and every veteran!