Tracing Your Family’s Military History

Many families contain at least a few people who have served in the military. Often, military service becomes something that runs in the family. Your mother or father may have had a parent who served our country, and grandparents who served our country as well. Some families can trace their family’s history of military service back to the Civil War, or even the Revolutionary War, with each generation having family members that were in the military. Sometimes, family members talk freely about their military experiences, sharing detailed stories of where they went and what happened there. Others are reluctant to discuss their military experience, for whatever reason. The details of their military service remain shrouded in mystery for years, and are often not discovered until after they have passed away.

Military service records can help you to piece together your family’s history of service to our country, and possibly even to your ancestors’ countries of origin. One way to honor your family’s commitment to military service is to create a special scrapbook or family tree chart that details your family’s military history. Scrapbooks work very well for this type of genealogy project because families often accumulate memorabilia from family members that served in the military, and these items can be combined with photographs, old letters, and text to bring your family’s stories to life and preserve them for years to come.

If you are unsure about where to look for military records, you may want to try Access Genealogy, which is a free resource. It has military records as well as other genealogical records and is one of the largest free collections of resources. Military records can also be found on the National Archives web site. These are just a starting point, because there are quire a few places where military records can be found online.