Tag Archives: Military

4 Resources to Find Military Records

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, so it’s an appropriate time to share several resources to help researchers find the military records pertaining to family members.

This post isn’t about sharing the usual subscription sites, it’s about sharing lesser used resources that can help tell the story of military service.

1. Newspaper Articles – Military information, particularly when “local boys” were serving, was a popular subject for numerous news articles. Of course, the further back in time, the less likely it is to find stories that named specific men. During the Revolutionary War, there weren’t that many newspapers and, for those that have survived, it is more likely that battles and military movements made the news.

However, in modern times, newspapers have published not only the “big” news, but often included stories about locals who were currently serving, particularly during World Wars I and II. I have a couple of articles about my mother, who served as a WAVE during World War II.

Of course, some of the news wasn’t good. When young people in service died, the article detailed the person, his/her career and surviving family members. These news items were a hybrid of military news and obituary.

Obituaries of veterans were published, too. The 20th century was the era in which most newspapers didn’t charge at all, or charged nominal amounts, to publish obituaries. Veterans were rightly proud of their service and their obituaries frequently made mention of rank, deployments and battles.

2. Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War both maintain Grand Army of the Republic databases on their websites.

3. Joe Beine maintains a number of excellent sites with genealogical resources. Visit Online Military Indexes and Records – U.S. to browse the links to wars in which the U.S. participated, from the American Revolution to the Vietnam War.

4. The last resource is the local County Courthouse and is one which I rarely see mentioned. Did you know that military veterans (Civil War through modern times) are able to have their discharge papers recorded in their local county courthouse? By filing their military discharge form (today the DD214), a permanent record is maintained for future proof of service for veterans’ benefits. Military discharge records are generally not public information, but “qualified applicants” may request copies and there are exceptions. For example, there is a Military Discharges Index 1864-1947 for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is free to access.

As we reflect and honor the memory of those who died in service, take some time to learn more about his/her service to the United States of America.

Locating Military Gravestones & Burials

Although Saturday, 11 November, is officially Veteran’s Day, America will celebrate the federal holiday on Saturday.

Veteran’s Day is a time to thank, honor and remember all men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces, both living and deceased.

Do you have ancestors or deceased family members who served in the military and wonder where they are buried?

Here are some free resources that might help you locate their gravesites:

American Battle Monuments Commission – Database of 200,000 Americans who died in World War I or World War II

Interment.net – Browse all U.S. national cemeteries

National Cemetery Administration Graveside Locator – Database of servicemen/women (and possibly their spouses) buried in a U.S. national cemetery

There are also several collections on FamilySearch. You will need a free account to access these records, if you don’t already have one:

Roll of Honor: Names of Soldiers Who Died in Defense of the American Nation – 27 digitized volumes that can be browsed (not indexed)

United States: Burial Registers for Military Posts, Camps and Stations, 1768-1921 – Most burials are between 1860-1890.

United States Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903 – Card collection of gravestone permits of Union soldiers. Description says that some War of 1812 veterans might also be included.

United States Headstone Applications for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1949 – 621,000 applications

Be sure to thank a veteran for his/her service this weekend!