Chances are excellent that someone in your family tree was a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, guardsman or state militiaman. Even if you don’t have irrefutable evidence of an ancestor’s military service, make a timeline of wars he lived through — it doesn’t hurt to check for records if a man’s age made him eligible to enlist. And don’t assume your female ancestors didn’t leave records: They may have nursed the injured in units such as the WWII Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, or applied for their veteran husbands’ pension benefits.
Since military service was so common, you’ll find lots of online resources — everything from huge, government-sponsored databases to a tiny town’s WWI casualty list. Military records even encompass some who weren’t in the armed forces: After the Selective Service Act of 1917, 24 million men aged 18 to 45 filled out WWI draft registration cards between June 1917 and September 1918. Even if he didn’t enlist, your ancestor’s card is probably on microfilm at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) <www.archives.gov>; some of the Web sites in this section have partial indexes.
We’ve focused our directory on resources for Colonial wars through World War II. To find more listings, resources for more recent wars and historical information, investigate the military links on Cyndi’s List <www.cyndislist.com/military.htm> and peruse your ancestral county’s USGenWeb page (go to <www.usgenweb.org>, click on the state, and then the county).
<wm.rhodesfamily.org/2ndVA.htm>: These pages contain the names of more than 400 officers and soldiers who served with the 2nd Virginia Regiment in the American Revolution.
• 1883 Pensioners Online
<www.arealdomain.com/pensioners1883.html>: At Congress’ direction, the Pension Office prepared a list of individuals receiving pensions for war service as of Jan. 1, 1883. A small portion is online at this site.
• African-American Military History and Muster Rolls
<www.afrigeneas.com/links/#military>: Link to sources of information and records.
• Alabama Civil War Service Database
<www.archives.state.al.us / civilwar / index. cfm>: You’re in luck if your ancestor’s last name begins with a letter from A through L — that’s how far indexers have gotten. Still, the database has more than 114,000 records showing name, branch of service, regiment and unit.
• American Revolutionary War Soldiers and Their Descendants
<www.rootsweb.com/∼ars>: Browse a list of soldiers and contact information for the descendants who submitted their names.
• Ancestry.com $
<Ancestry.com >: A US subscription gets you access to Civil War pension records, state rosters, regimental histories, WWI draft cards and more.
• Andersonville Prison Lookup
<www.montezuma-ga.org/chamber/plookup.htm>: The Macon County (Ga.) Chamber of Commerce brings you this database with names of 32,000 inmates at this infamous Civil War prison.
• Archives of Maryland Online military records
<www.mdarchives.state.md.us/megafile/msa/speccol/sc2900/sc2908/html/military.html>: Here you’ll find American Revolution muster rolls and Civil War rosters. You have to go to a different area of the archives Web site <www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/refserv/genealogy/html/ militrec.html> in order to view Revolutionary War-era state papers and the National Guard Service Records Index.
• Birth Info in WWI Civilian Draft Registrations — Completed County Abstractions
<members.aol.com/rayhbanks/cos.html>: This page links to abstracted birth and other information from 1917 and 1918 civilian draft cards. About 13 percent of US counties are complete — more than a million names in all.
• Civil War Florida
<www.civilwarflorida.com>: Browse the Master Soldier Index and the descendant registry — both works in progress — then you can submit information about your own Civil War ancestors.
• Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
<www.itd.nps.gov/cwss>: This National Park Service Web site indexes 6.3 million names of Union and Confederate soldiers and Union African-American sailors.
• Colorado State Archives Military Records
<www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit / archives / military.html>: Search online indexes of volunteers from 1861 to 1865, Civil War casualties, Spanish-American War soldiers and more.
• Cyndi’s List — US Military
<www.cyndislist.com / military.htm>: Check out Cyndi’s links to military records, how-to articles and organizations.
• Florida Memory Project: WWI Service Cards and Florida Confederate Pension Application Files
<www.floridamemory.com/ collections>: The search results in these easy-to-use databases link to high-quality digitized images of pension files and draft cards.
• Georgia Archives Online Records
<www.sos.state.ga.us / archives /what_do_ we_have/online_records>: Search two Civil War databases — Confederate Enlistment Oaths and Discharges, and Confederate Muster Rolls. Click on Online Indexes for the Revolutionary War Veterans’ Land Lottery Records database.
• Great White Fleet
<www.searchforancestors.com/ military / atlanticfleet>: Search names of more than 14,000 sailors who traveled with this peacetime goodwill tour from 1907 through 1909.
• HeritageQuest Online
The US government gave veterans bounty land to reward them for military service in the Revolutionary War and other conflicts up to 1855. If the veteran died, his widow or another heir could inherit the land.
• Illinois State Archives Online Databases
<www.sos.state.il.us /departments/ archives /databases.html>: Search for veterans from the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War and other conflicts, plus Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home residents.
• Indiana State Library WWII Servicemen Database
<18.104.22.168/db/wwii_search.asp>:Librarians created this database from three Indianapolis newspapers’ notices of casualties, the missing, prisoners and military honors from 1942 to early 1946.
• Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives
<jarda.cdlib.org>: This collection includes more than 10,000 digital images and 20,000 pages of transcriptions documenting the experiences of Japanese-Americans in WWII internment camps. You’ll find photographs, manuscripts, paintings, drawings, letters and oral histories.
• Legion Ville
<www.legionville.com>: Read about the men who served in the Legion of the United States under Gen. Anthony Wayne from 1792 to 1796, and browse rosters and casualty lists.
• Louisiana State Archives: Confederate Pension Applications Index Database
<www.sec.state.la.us / archives /gen/ cpa-index.htm>: Look for your Louisiana Confederates among more than 49,000 names from pension applications.
• Medal of Honor Citations
<www.army.mil /cmh-pg/moh1.htm>: This index contains transcriptions of Medal of Honor Citations for more than 3,400 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen since the medal’s creation in 1861.
• Missouri State Archives Soldiers Database: War of 1812-World War I
<www.sos.state.mo.us / archives / soldiers>: This database lists more than 576,000 Missourians who served in the military from territorial times through World War I. The records consist primarily of service cards, but the extensive collection also includes muster rolls, special orders and reports.
• NCGenWeb Projects and Links — Military Sites
<www.rootsweb.com/∼ncgenweb/ list.html>: Scroll to F-Military Sites for links to soldier lists from the Colonial era, Revolutionary War, Civil War and more.
• New York State Civil War Soldier Database
<www.archives.nysed.gov/a/researchroom/ rr_mi_civilwar_dbintro.shtml>: Fire up this database to locate Empire State enlistees, including 360,000 men who served with the New York State Volunteers, US Sharpshooter units or US “colored troops.”
• Officers of the US Navy and Marine Corps in the War of 1812
<www.history.navy.mil /wars/war1812/ 1815list.htm>: The Naval Historical Center offers these lists of commissioned and warrant officers of the Navy and Marine Corps shortly after the War of 1812.
• Oregon Historical Records Index
<genealogy.state.or.us>: This site’s main search includes 21,975 statewide enlistment and service records (1848 to 1928); 2,069 soldiers home applications (1894 to 1933) and 1,850 histories of soldiers home residents (1894 to 1933).
• Pennsylvania Archives Records Information Access System
<www.digitalarchives.state.pa.us>:Access 1.5 million records from the Revolutionary War, Spanish-American War and other conflicts.
• Research in Military Records
<www.archives.gov /research_room/ genealogy/ research_topics / military.html>: Learn what military records NARA holds and get research tips for specific wars.
• Revolutionary War Pensioners Living in the State of Ohio in 1818-1819
<php.ucs.indiana.edu/ ∼jetorres /ohiorev.html>: Submitters have supplemented this list, extracted from the US government’s Pension List of 1818, with names of people Uncle Sam overlooked.
• Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865
<www.wisconsinhistory.org / roster>: Search alphabetical and regimental lists of soldiers who served in Wisconsin units during the Civil War.
• The Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War
<fas-history.rutgers.edu / oralhistory / orlhom.htm>: Rutgers researchers have collected 350 oral histories of men and women who served on the home front and overseas during these conflicts.
• Soldiers of the Great War: Pennsylvania
<www.carnegielibrary.org / locations/ pennsylvania/genealogy/wwi.html>:These names of Keystone State WWI soldiers were transcribed from the book Soldiers of the Great War (see page 54).
• Tennessee State Library and Archives — Military Records
<www.tennessee.gov/ tsla / history / military>: Access online indexes of Confederate physicians, Confederate pension applications and WWI veterans, and get finding aids for other records.
• Texas Adjutant General Service Records 1836-1935
<www2.tsl.state.tx.us / trail / servicesearch.jsp>: This database has digitized military records from 15 military organizations, such as the Texas Rangers, Army of the Republic and Frontier Battalion.
• US Civil War Regimental Histories in the Library of Congress
<www.loc.gov/rr/main/uscivilwar>:Regimental histories give you details about a military unit’s actions. This online finding aid guides you to books about Civil War regiments.
• Valley Forge Muster Roll Project
<valleyforgemusterroll.org>: March through 30,000 names of soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge from December 1777 to June 1778. You’ll also find an organizational chart of the Continental Army and other historical information.
• Veterans History Project
<www.loc.gov/vets /vets-home.html>: Congress created this project in 2000 to collect veterans’ stories of service in 20th-century wars. Search a registry of participants and collections, then read or listen to digitized materials.
• War of 1812 Roster of Ohio Soldiers
<www.ohiohistory.org /resource/ database/ rosters.html>: The Buckeye State contributed 1,759 officers and 24,521 enlisted men to the War of 1812. You can search their names here.
• The Women’s Army Corps
<www.army.mil /cmh/books/wwii/wac>: Read about the history and roles of the corps in this detailed online book.
• World War I Draft Registrations for Northern Virginia
<www.alexandria.lib.va.us / lhsc_ genealogy_resources/ draft /ww1draft.html>: Browse lists of 11,000 men who registered with the Selective Service System in Alexandria, Arlington County (formerly Alexandria County) and Fairfax County.
• World War I Questionnaires
<www.lva.lib.va.us /whatwehave/mil>: Click World War I History Commission Questionnaires. As part of its mission to document Virginia’s participation in World War I, the Old Dominion State’s War History Commission conducted a survey of WWI veterans. Their answers appear in this database of 14,900 records.
Books and CDs
• The 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia by Nancy J. Cornell (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• Abstracts of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots, 4 volumes, by Patricia Law Hatcher (Pioneer Heritage Press)
• American Civil War Research Database CD (Historical Data Systems)
• American Militia in the Frontier Wars, 1790 1796 by Murtie June Clark (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services, 1840 by the US Department of State (Genealogical Publishing Co.): This information is also in the Revolutionary War Pension Records CD, below.
• Civil War Genealogy by George K. Schweitzer (Knoxville Genealogical Sources Unlimited, $9)
• Colonial Soldiers of the South 1732-1774 by Murtie June Clark (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• Index to Mexican War Pension Applications by Barbara Schull Wolfe (Heritage House)
• Index to U.S. Invalid Pension Records, 1801-1815 by Murtie Jane Clark (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• Index to War of 1812 Pension Files by Virgil D. White (National Historical Publishing Co.)
• The King’s Mountain Men: The Story of the Battle, With Sketches of the American Soldiers Who Took Part by Katherine Keogh White (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• Naval Pensioners of the United States by Lloyd deWitt Bockstruck (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• New York in the Colonial Wars, the Revolution, and the War of 1812 CD (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments by Lloyd deWitt Bockstruck (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• Revolutionary War Genealogy by George K. Schweitzer (Knoxville Genealogical Sources Unlimited)
• Revolutionary War Invalid Pension Claims 1792-94 (Byron Sistler & Associates): This book is a reprint of House of Representatives documents.
• Revolutionary War Pension Records CD (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• Roll of Honor: Civil War Union Soldiers CD (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• SAR Revolutionary War Graves Register 2000 Edition CD by Sons of the American Revolution (Progeny Software)
• Soldiers of the Great War compiled by W.M. Haulsee, F.G. Howe and A.C. Doyle (Soldiers Record Publishing Association)
• Special Presidential Pardons for Confederate Soldiers, 2 volumes (Byron Sistler & Associates)
• U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources by James C. Neagles (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
• U.S. Veterans of the War with Mexico, 1846-1848: A Guide to Genealogical Research by Steven R. Butler (Descendants of Mexican War Veterans)
• Virginia Military Records: Colonial Wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812 CD (Genealogical Publishing Co.,)
• Volunteer Soldiers in the Cherokee War by James Douthat (Byron Sistler & Associates)
• War of 1812 Genealogy by George K. Schweitzer (Knoxville Genealogical Sources Unlimited)
• War With Mexico, 1846-1847: Doniphan’s Expedition and the Conquest of New Mexico and California by William Elsey Connelley (Heritage Books)
Veterans’ pension applications often contain more information than service records. A Confederate Civil War soldier (or his widow) may have applied in his home state or a state he lived in after the war.
• Air Force Historical Research Agency
600 Chennault Circle, Building 1405, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL 36112, (334) 953-2395, <www.au.af.mil /au/afhra>
• Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War
503 S. Walnut St., Springfield, IL 62704, (217) 544-0616, <www.duvcw.org>
• Descendants of Mexican War Veterans
Box 830482, Richardson, TX 75083, <www.dmwv.org>
• General Society of the War of 1812
6184 Stinson Blvd. NE, Fridley, MN 55432, <www.societyofthewarof1812.org>
• Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library
4278 Griscom St., Philadelphia, PA 19124, (215) 289-6484, <garmuslib.org>
• Marine Corps Heritage Foundation
Box 998, Quantico, VA 22134, (800) 397-7585, <www.usmcmuseum.org/ store /mchf>
• National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132, <www.archives.gov/facilities/mo/st_louis.html>
• National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
1776 D St. NW, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 628-1776, <www.dar.org>
• The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
1000 S. Fourth St., Louisville, KY 40203, (502) 589-1776, <www.sar.org>
• Naval Historical Center
Washington Navy Yard, 805 Kidder Breese St. SE, Washington, DC 20374, <www.history.navy.mil>
• Sons of Confederate Veterans
Box 59, Columbia, TN 38402, (800) 693 4943, <scv.org>
• Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Box 1865, Harrisburg, PA 17105, (717) 232 7000, <www.suvcw.org>
• United Daughters of the Confederacy
328 North Blvd., Richmond, VA 23220, (804) 355-1636, <www.hqudc.org>
• US Army Center of Military History
Collins Hall, 103 Third Ave., Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC 20319, (202) 685-4042, <www.army.mil / cmh>
• US Army Military History Institute
Army Heritage & Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, PA 17013, (717) 245 3971, <carlisle-www.army.mil /usamhi>
• US Department of Veterans Affairs