Happy Fourth of July! I hope your holiday plans include watching a parade or (safely) enjoying fireworks—and, of course, researching your American Revolution-era ancestors.
The Continental Congress voted July 2, 1776—more than a year after the Revolutionary War broke out—to declare independence from Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson was selected to compose a Declaration of Independence, which was ratified July 4 (that original manuscript has been lost). A copy was sent to the printing shop of John Dunlap, who produced 200 broadsides overnight.
Public readings took place across the Colonies starting July 8 in Philadelphia. Most signatories signed the Declaration of independence Aug. 2; this document is on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
Whether your revolutionary relatives were Founding Fathers or members of the Continental army—or, as was usually the case for women, kept the home front warm—they helped forge a new nation. Most enlisted men were between ages 16 and 60, but younger and older men also served.
On the other hand, maybe your family didn’t think a split with England was such a good idea and remained Loyalists, or even fought with British or Hessian troops. The British offered some African-American slaves—now called Black Loyalists—freedom in exchange for military service.
See these free FamilyTreeMagazine.com articles for advice and resources to help you research your American Revolution genealogy.
- Revolutionary War Web resources
- Revolutionary War Loyalists
- Revolutionary War timeline
- 10 Best Web Sites for Military Research
Elsewhere on the web, check out these Revolutionary War genealogy and history websites:
- National Park Service: Revolutionary War (a “capsule” history that links to a timeline, bios of important figures, historic sites and more)
- The American Revolutionary War (background and lists of battles, campaigns, leaders, regiments and POW camps)
- PBS Rediscovering George Washington
- Colonial Ancestors: Revolutionary War soldier indexes
- Revolutionary War Loyalist History and Genealogy
- Revolutionary War Records at Fold3.com (get free access July 1-15!)
- FamilySearch: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications
- Ohio’s Revolutionary War Veterans Index
- Maine Genealogy: Revolutionary War Pension Rolls (Look for similar searchable indexes on the website for the state archives where your ancestor served.)
- Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogical Research System
- FamilySearch: Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783