In Honor of Veterans Day: Freebies for Tracing Ancestors in the Military

Today is Veteran's Day. If you are tracing ancestors that served in the US military, these free genealogy resources may be able to help.

Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com is offering a free peak at their US Military records from November 11th through the 14th. This includes Revolutionary War rolls, Civil War soldier listings, World War I and II draft registration cards and a wide variety of other military records. You have to register to view these records, but registration is free and allows you the opportunity to talk to other genealogists and family historians on the message boards as well.

The US Department of Veteran Affairs offers a free nationwide grave locator on their website. You can search with as little as a partial surname. Adding a first name, date of birth, date of death or cemetery can help narrow the results down. Not all veterans are listed, but you may find family members of veterans in the database.

The National WWII Memorial Registry has compiled the names of those servicemen and women who are buried in American Battle Monument Commission (ABMC) overseas cemeteries, memorialized on ABMC Tablets of the Missing, listed on official War and Navy Department Killed in Service rosters or honored by public enrollment in the Registry of Remembrances.

The search is simple. Just put in the surname of the individual. Adding a first name and state can narrow the results. The results will give you the individual's name, hometown, service unit and source of information. Clicking on the person's name will open a new screen with a printable certificate.

One free genealogy resource that's lesser known is the Library of Congress Veterans Oral History Project. The project collects stories a memorabilia from veterans as well as civilians that play a role in wars (USO workers, medical volunteers, etc). These include photographs, documents, transcriptions of interviews, videos and sound recordings. It is an ongoing project.

The project database can be searched or browsed. You can search by name, service location, service unit or ship, highest rank, notes, name of interviewer or donor, contributor or interviewer affiliation, collection ID number, conflict, service branch, whether the individual was a prisoner of war, gender, whether the collection is digitized or if a transcript is available. You can browse by surname, war and military branch, state of residence or race/ethnicity.

The results screen gives you the individual's name, rank, branch, conflict and service location. Some also have an indicator that the collection includes digitized material. Clicking on the name takes you to another page with information which may include date of birth, place of birth, gender, race, home state, conflict, status, service dates, branch, location of service, whether they were a prisoner of war, whether they received a service-related injury and information on the resource(s). Many entries also include photographs.

If digital material is available, there will be an icon to click on. It will show an abbreviated version of the prior page with the addition of all digital material associated with that person. You will be able to view photographs, transcripts, documents or videos, or listen to sound recordings.

Another subscription genealogy site, Footnote, also has some military freebies. If you haven't visited it yet, check out their WWII Hero Pages. These include enlistment records for the men and women that served in World War II as well as user-designed hero pages. Hero pages are tributes to these servicemen and women and may include photographs, documents and personal stories.

Last, but not least, be sure to check out the previously posted military resources here at Free Genealogy Resources. These include several state and location specific military resources which may offer additional information not found in the bigger databases.

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