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Military Genealogy Research by Branch of Service and By War

Military files can be helpful in discovering genealogy information for your ancestors that can be added to your family tree. The majority of us have had several of our family members enlist due to drafts for WWI or WWII. Both drafts have provided invaluable data such as: where and when they were born; current residence; where they worked; their spouses and children names; physical attributes; and more.

Ancestors that served in the military have left files of genealogy related data with the branch of service that they served in. These records can be obtained by filing out the proper application with the necessary information. Most files for veterans’ of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Cost guard, Marine Corps, and Navy are available through the National Archives, with the earliest records dating from the Revolutionary War.

Some military service records have been destroyed by the 1973 fire that may hinder your genealogy research. If you can’t obtain the files you are looking for through the national archives, there are other research methods that you can use to find genealogy information about your ancestors.

Finding genealogy archives should be conducted in a organized research process. This will help you to find what you are looking for.

Military Genealogy Information for The Navy

Muster rolls of vessels, 1860 to 1900, are arranged chronologically in three separate series and then alphabetically by name of vessel. They are found in Record Group 24, Records of Naval Personnel at the National Archives.

Enlistment records usually give the sailor’s name, enlistment date and place, birthplace, age, occupation, and personal description. Enlistment records have not been microfilmed and are available at the National Archives and Family History Library:
  • Registers of Enlistments, 1845–54.
  • Quarterly Returns of Enlistments of Vessels, 1866–91. 43 vols.
  • Weekly Returns of Enlistments at Naval Rendezvous, 1855–91

Archives II Archives II Ref. Branch
Textual Ref. Division NWDT
806 Adelphi Rd.
College Park, MD 20740-6001
(301) 713-7250
Vessel movement cards, armed guard
reports, WWII convoy reports (U.S. to England)
Nimitz Library U. S. Naval Academy
121 Blake Rd. Annapolis, MD. 21402-5000
Naval Historical Center Washington Navy Yard
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington, DC 20374-5060
(202) 433-4132 (Main)
-3224 (Ops. Info.)
-3643 (Ship History I logs)
Navy Dept. Library Dudley Knox Center for Naval history
Washington Navy Yard, Bldg. 44
Washington, DC 20374-5060
open to the public 200,000 volumes
some volumes available through interlibrary loan; special collections, annual navy officer
registers, navy directories, cruise
books, Lloyd's registers
Pentagon Library Pentagon Library
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
General reference,
ask for Branch of Service (703) 697-4301
Library of Congress 101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20540
(202) 707-5000
U. S. Naval Institute U. S. Naval Academy
Annapolis, MD. 21402
(301) 261-2700
Biographies of Annapolis graduates
Not compiled for absolutely every graduate, but most.
Lloyd's Register NYC Public Library,
14th St. Branch
New York, NY
Register of all military naval vessels,
not to be confused with their commercial vessels register
NY Maritime Register Available at Mystic Seaport,
Mystic, CT
this is a newspaper about the maritime industry available on microfilm; published up until the end of WWII
DANFS Dictionary of American Fighting Ships you will need to know either the hull number of the ship or her name and type of ship to locate the ship's history. This wi ll give you the SHIP'S history, but not the personnel's history.
Military Personnel Records Center 1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO  63132-5100

moving to Hazelwood, MO fall of 2012
(314) 801-0800
Navy records from 1885; Coast Guard from 1898; Marine Corps from 1905; Army from 1917; and Air Force from 1947

Military Records for the Army

The United States Army was created when Congress created a permanent military under the Act of 29 September 1789. The Army has participated in every war the United States has entered.

National Archives Microfilm Publication M233. (or 81 FHL films beginning with 0350307.) These give the soldier’s name, rank, regiment, company commander, height, weight, eye color, hair, complexion, age, occupation, county and state of birth, and enlistment date and place. The registers from 1798 to 30 June 1821 are arranged in alphabetical order. Those for later years are arranged by the initial letter of the soldier’s surname, then chronologically by month and year of enlistment.

Military Records for the Marine Corps

The Marine Corps was created in 1798. It was part of the Navy Department from 1834 until 1952, when it became a distinct branch of the military. Records of Marine Corps soldiers and officers are available at the National Archives in Record Group 127 for the years 1798 to 1904.

Muster rolls of the Marine Corps have been filmed for the years 1789 to 1892 and are available at the Family History Library.

Look for your Ancestors in these Wars

Pre 1775 - Colonial Wars
1775 - 1783 - Revolution
1776 - 1794 - Chickamauga Wars
1812 - 1815 - Creek War of 1812
1815 - 1924 - various Indian Wars
1838 - Patriot War
1846 - 1848 - Mexican War
1861 - 1865 - Civil War
1898 - 1899 Spanish American War
1899 - 1902 Philippine Insurrection
1917 - 1918 World War I
1941 - 1945 Word War II

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