United States Military Records

United States military records are useful to genealogists for a couple of reason. Obviously they provide service information, but they can also help in other ways to knock down brick walls.  For example, if a researcher has been unable to find a marriage record for a Civil War veteran whose widow applied for his pension, he might find a marriage certificate included in the widow’s application. Of course, there are no guarantees as to what could be found in such records, but they often contain unexpected items that can be both genealogically useful and simply of interest regarding details of an ancestor.

For obtaining a Civil War widow pension, file researchers might want to check first to see what is available on Fold3, which features military records.  The database is free to Connetquot Public Library cardholders, if logged in using the library’s link and library card number.  Fold3 has a wide variety of military records too numerous to list here. Other databases on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org also have United States military indexes and records, as well as other related collections such as World War I and World War II draft registration cards.  Links to the National Archives online databases can be found on their website  https://www.archives.gov/research/military/veterans/online.html.

Not everything in the way of military records is available online, so genealogists sometimes have to order records. This generally involves some time and expense. To help researchers understand availability of records, the National Archives has a brief description of their collections on their website: https://www.archives.gov/research/military/genealogy.htmlare.

Also, the following links can provide information on ordering records through the National Archives.

Civil War veteran records: https://www.archives.gov/research/military/civil-war

Older Military Service Records: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1-records

For more recent military personnel records (20th century), researchers need to contact the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri (https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel). The NPRC is the repository of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century. However, a fire in 1973 at facility destroyed approximately 80% of Army personnel records from 1 Nov 1912 to 1 Jan 1960; and, 75% of the Air Force records from 25 Sep 1947 to 1 Jan 1964. Millions of military service files, including those for WWI and World War World II were destroyed. If you are seeking the record of a World War I navy veteran, the chance of surviving records are greater.

To learn more about United States military records, I recommend the website https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Military_Records. It provides researchers with background information along with many links to online sources.

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Genealogical Resources at Diocese of Brooklyn Archives

genealogyJoin us on Wednesday, February 8 at 7:00 pm when archivist Joseph Coen will talk about the genealogical resources available at the Brooklyn Diocesan Archives. This program is free and open to all.

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A Tip for Beginners

An interest in family research always seems to increase after the holiday season. My guess is that it is has something to do with people reminiscing during holiday family gatherings.  If you are thinking about beginning to research your family, the first thing you should do is fill out a pedigree chart, also sometimes called an ancestral chart.  This will show, in tree form, all of your known direct ancestors and the connections between the parents and children among them, along with dates and places of vital events.  I recommend avoiding the temptation to jump into any genealogical research before you do this.  Pedigree charts will help you organize the information you know and understand what you still need to find out in order to fill in blanks and extend ancestral lines. It will also provide those assisting you with the clues needed to advise you on research strategies.  You might think that filling out a pedigree chart sounds like a boring chore, especially if you are excited and motivated about diving right into old records, but in the end it will probably save you time and aggravation, while providing you with an easy to understand diagram of all your ancestors and how they connect with one another.

To get started you do not need a fancy form or software. There are plenty of printable forms on the internet, which you can simply fill out by hand.  I have provided some links to free forms, as well as a link explaining how to fill them out.  You might even want to work on a pedigree chart before your family holiday gatherings. It could provide you the opportunity to ask relatives in person for some family information, and who knows what interesting facts and stories might come from such a conversation.

Pedigree Charts

National Archives






Mid-Continent Public Library



Brigham Young University Broadcasting



Instructions on How to Fill Out a Pedigree Chart


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Next Genealogy Program


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Reclaim the Records

Reclaim the Records (www.reclaimtherecords.org) is a “not-for-profit group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates who are filing Freedom of Information requests to get public data released back into the public domain.” They recently added the NYC Marriage Licenses Index (1950-1995) to the website (www.nycmarriageindex.com).  It is also interesting to know what this group is working on acquiring over the next two years.  You will find the list at www.reclaimtherecords.org/to-do.  If they succeed, we could be seeing some more useful databases in the near future.  

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Our Next Family History Roundtable Program

  1. rhoda-miller
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Online Irish Civil Records

Today Irish civil registers were released to www.IrishGenealogy.ie, a free website owned and maintained by the Irish government.  The index contains 12.5 records of Irish births (1864-1915), marriages (1882-1940), and deaths (1891-1965). There are currently 2.5 million images of civil records that can be viewed and downloaded. 

Before accessing the online index and records, you are required to fill-out an online application which is simply just providing your name and checking a box.  After submitting the online form, you will have instant access.

For those who had ancestors living in Ireland during the time of civil registration, you will definitely want to check out www.IrishGenealogy.ie.  It makes Irish family research a little easier and convenient.



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Family Tree Article and Flipster

Family researchers are always interested in discovering new genealogical websites, so I thought it might be helpful to mention that the current issue (September 2016) of Family Tree magazine has an article entitled Out-of- this-World Websites which provides a substantial list. Although you may be aware of, or even regularly use, many of the websites listed, there could be a few you haven’t seen. And you might be happy to know that if you are a Connetquot Public Library cardholder, you are able to view and even download Family Tree magazine free of charge by using Flipster. To do this from your computer, go to our homepage www.connetquotlibrary.org and click on eMagazines which will take you to the Flipster link. At some point will be prompted to type in your library card number. You will find Family Tree magazine in Flipster listed under the category Hobbies, Interests & DYI. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also read the magazines on your device after downloading the Flipster app. Step-by- step Flipster instructions are provided when you go to our Flipster link.

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Worldwide Indexing Event, July 15-17

The annual FamilySearch.org Worldwide Indexing Event starts this week. Their goal this year is to have at least 72,000 volunteers index as many genealogical records as possible in a 72-hour period between July 15 and  July 17.  Anyone with a computer and Internet connection can index the records.  You will find more information about the event and how to volunteer by visiting the website https://familysearch.org/worldsrecords.

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FamilySearch Upgrade Message

Because so many visit our library to do family research, I thought I should pass along the following email I received from FamilySearch:

FamilySearch has been working hard to upgrade our website to accommodate the ongoing growth of new features, such as hinting in the Family Tree. As a part of this process, FamilySearch.org will undergo a technical upgrade on Monday, June 27, starting at 12:00 a.m. MDT (6:00 a.m. UTC). The site may be unavailable for up to 24 hours as we test the system improvements.
Thank you for your patience as we make these changes. We are excited about this site upgrade and the increased capacity to help people around the world discover their ancestors.
Thank You,
Want to know more?
Join the conversion on our FamilySearch Facebook Page

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