04 April 2011

Military Records of 20th Century Ancestors

Tonight I am scheduled to make a presentation at the April meeting of the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society, chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society. My topic: "Researching Your 20th Century Military Ancestors."

I am going to present what researchers can learn about ancestors who served in WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict, and the Viet Nam Conflict, using resources available on the Internet.

One of the topics for discussion will be the fire in 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center that destroyed 85% of the Army records from WWI and later. I will report that these records can be "reconstructed" upon request, using medical and other records that were not harmed by the fire. A related topic will be what access genealogists have and don't have to available military records.

One of the opportunities that I am going to emphasize is to learn about ancestors who were required to register for the WWI draft. The three registrations in 1917 and 1918 created some 25 million records that act as snapshots of the registrants' lives in this period just before the 1920 census. I believe that this is an under-utilized resource, which is available on Ancestry.com and Ancestry Library Edition (available free in Libraries) for learning information about men who were born between 11 Sep 1872 and 12 Sep 1900.

In addition to Ancestry, I am going to mention research possibilities on Footnote.com, particuarly the Wall of Honor in Washington, DC, for casualties of the Viet Nam Conflict.

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