Genealogy books

Dig a little deeper into the military archives

When I’m working on my family tree, I can easily go down a “rabbit hole.” So, I made a conscious effort to stay focused.


I identified one branch of the tree at a time and located the men and women who were of WWII service age in Korea.

What resources would I use for this task? The answer was simple: FamilySearch, the National Archives, and Fold3. I started with my uncle Amos and was delighted to find the muster lists of the navy ships he served on in the Solomon Islands during WWII. These recordings were easy to attach to the file alreadyexisting tree in FamilySearch.

FamilySearch has a database of military records for all wars and conflicts. Once logged into the free FamilySearch account, locate the word “Search” in the top menu bar. Then go to “Recordings”. A page will appear with the title, “Historical Records”. Scroll down to “Find a collection”, click on “Browse all collections”, then select the box next to “Military” on the right hand side. Enter the state where your ancestor may have lived or enlisted, then begin the hunt. Although it may take some time, the effort is worth it!

The National Archives on Archives.gov is another free way to research military records.

Once on the National Archives website, click on the box labeled “Veteran’s Service Records“. Here you will be able to search for records from the American Revolution, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

I recently used the service offered by the National Archives to request a copy of my father’s discharge papers. The application process was free, and although the wait was a bit long, it was a pleasant surprise to see the documents arrive in the mail. I am currently awaiting papers from my great-gWell ggrandfather, who was in the civil war.

Although many requests are free, some require payment to be processed. I don’t want to exceed my budget. Soh, I plan to apply for and gradually collect military papers.

One of my favorite sources is Fold3. Although it’s probably free at your local library, it requires a minimal monthly subscription for home use.

Some libraries will provide an e-card service where you can access Fold3 from home. Just ask your librarian if this is possible.

I’m lucky to have the Mid-Continent Public Library nearby. So, I box access genealogical databases from home with my e-card. Once connected to Fold3, select the period you want to search, then have fun!

Dig deeper by locating Navy Cruise Books and searching for photos for loved ones. I spent a day all afternoon looking for my father with a magnifying glass, but the effort was worth it. I found a picture of him with his engineer crew on the deck of the CV-31 Bon Homme’ Richard. What a handsome young sailor!

Take the time to browse, research and dig deep! The military archives help to fill in the documents that may have been forgotten.