Want to find your ancestor in military records? Here is an efficient way to identify all military records on FamilySearch, and to narrow your search by collection. It is then easy to search within a single collection.
On the FamilySearch home screen click “Search” and then “Records” in the dropdown menu.
Do NOT enter a name to search, but instead click on “Browse All Published Collections.” Continue reading “Looking for military records? You are gonna like this!”
Using the online eVetRecs at the National Archives website http://www.archives.gov/veterans/ I ordered a World War I service record for my grandfather, Allen Lee Millard Gooch. I knew my chances of getting a file were slim because in 1973 a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, destroyed 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), including 80% of personnel discharged 1 Nov 1912-1 Jan 1960.
Indeed, I received a reply to my request that said my requested records were part of the 1973 fire. I was sad. Then, amazingly, I received a thick packet with much, or possibly all, of my grandfather’s file with copies of the “burned” records! Here is a page:
This record–an “Application for Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed Discharge Certificate”–proves that you never know just where you will find some of the best information. This record provides us with:
- Full name
- Place/date of enlistment and discharge
- Military unit
- Physical description
- City and State of birth
- Approximate birth year
- Probable residence after discharge
This is only one of many pages in this record, and the others are equally interesting. I may post some more soon.
This record also proves you should never give up just because you are told a repository burned. Yes, the records burned, but hey—not entirely!! Let’s hear it for the 42 fire districts that responded to the alarm and battled the blaze for 2 days.
I received an unexpected bonus one day when a box containing replacement medals for my grandfather’s WWI service arrived in the mail: A Purple Heart, a WWI Victory Medal, and a medal for his participation in the battles of Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel. What a treasure! I will post photos soon.
To learn more about the Military service records and Official Military Personnel Files go to http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/about-service-records.html
Pre-WWI military records can be ordered here:
The early U.S. Territorial Period was 1821-1845, but the eventual Territorial Period lasted until 1912, when Arizona and New Mexico were admitted as states.
Where can you find territorial records?
I would suggest searching the online catalogs for these types of repositories, using the search term “territorial papers.”
- State archives and libraries
- National Archives Regional Branches
- The Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Do a “keyword” search for “territorial papers” in the FamilySearch online catalog.
- State level genealogical and historical societies
- University Special Collections in the state you are researching
- Territorial records can also be found on the county level sometimes
Here is a quick guide and links to the territorial papers available at the Family History Library:
- State Department territorial papers, Arizona, 1864-1872, FHL film 1580035
- State Department territorial papers: Colorado series, FHL film 1464017
- Territorial papers, Idaho, 1863-1872 FHL film 1580038
- Territorial papers of Montana, 1864-1872, FHL films 1602228 -9
- State department territorial papers, Nevada, 1861-1864 FHL film 1491200
- State department territorial papers: New Mexico, 1851-1972, FHL films 1580030-33
- State Department territorial papers, Utah series, FHL film 491567
- Interior Department territorial papers, Utah, 1850-1902, FHL films 1602234 -9
- Territorial papers of Wyoming, 1868-1873, FHL film 1602230
Here are some published finding aids for territorial records:
Kvasnicka, Robert M. The Trans-Mississippi West, 1804-1912: A Guide to Federal Records for the Territorial Period, pts. I-IV (Washington, District of Columbia : National Archives and Records Administration, c1993-1996).
Chiorazzi, Michael. Pre-Statehood Legal Materials: A Fifty-State Research Guide, including New York City and the District of Columbia, 2 volumes (New York : The Haworth Information Press, 2005).
Some other good resources are:
United States, The public statutes at large of the United States of America / by authority of Congress (Boston : Little, Brown, n.d.)
United States. Congress. House and Senate Documents and Reports, United States Congressional Serial Set (Washington : U.S. G.P.O., n.d.).
United States. Congress, American State Papers, 38 vol (Buffalo, N. Y. : W.S. Hein, 1998)
I kid you not. The National Archives is hosting a FREE virtual genealogy fair September 3-4 that you can attend in your pajamas. When was the last time you attended a FREE genealogy conference of this caliber? Never, right? And did I mention it will cost you nothing? Thank you American Taxpayers. I feel like I just got a little tax refund. Continue reading “FREE Online Genealogy Conference from the National Archives! Sept 3-4”
I recently posted about interesting federal record groups at the National Archives that most of us have never heard of, but are pretty awesome. I thought you would like to learn about some of them, so here is Part 2 of Record Groups to Rock Your Socks. Refer to the original post for a step-by-step guide to finding these and other great records.
Did you have a veteran ancestor who was a resident of an Armed Forces Retirement Home? Today’s gem is “Records of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, 1803-1943.” Notice the link to search the OPA (Online Public Access) for entries from this record group.
The NARA website gives this summary of the retirement home history: “Established as the Military Asylum, Washington, DC, by an act of March 3, 1851 (9 Stat. 595), with branches (1851-58) in New Orleans, LA, and East Pascagoula (Greenwood’s Island), MS, and at Western Military Asylum, Harrodsburg, KY.”
Look at the cool things you can find for both inmates (residents) and employees:
Whenever you find a record group at the National Archives you would like to access, check to see if they have created a finding aid, such as this one:
To obtain copies or view records, use this contact information:
Well there you go! There are plenty more to explore, so stay tuned…and Happy Trails!