In yesterday’s blog post, Michael offered some new tips for exploring you ancestors’ military past. Today, we’d like to call your attention to some interesting military collections on Mocavo that might be of interest to you.
National Parks Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database
Offering more than 6 million individual records, the Soldiers and Sailors database provides information about the men who served during one of America’s deadliest battles, the Civil War. Although this helpful database was not accessible through the National Park Service website during the government shutdown, you will always have uninterrupted, free access to these records on Mocavo.
Fitch’s Home For Soldiers Index, 1863–1940
Not only can military records provide information about an individual ancestor, they can also provide information about an ancestor’s family. Founded by Benjamin Fitch on July 4, 1864, Fitch’s Home for Soldiers and Orphans housed soldiers and children of soldiers who fought primarily in the Civil War, Spanish American War, and World War I. Also known as Noroton Home, Fitch’s Home was located in Darien, Connecticut, and received limited aid from the State of Connecticut until 1887 when the state assumed control and renamed the home Fitch’s Home for Soldiers. Due to its limited facilities and the increase of returning veterans, the Veterans Home and Hospital Commission relocated the home in 1940.
Arkansas, World War I Discharge Records Index, 1917–1918
As Michael mentioned yesterday, County courthouses are often a hidden treasure trove of military records, and one that is rarely thought of. During WWI, Arkansas counties kept a record of Draft discharges. From 1917–1918, different counties collected more than 36,000 cards of men and women who served in World War I. These discharge records from the Arkansas History Commission offer a wealth of information that can help add context to the lives of your ancestors.
US National Archives, Awards and Decorations System File, Dec 1965–Nov 1972
It is often very exciting to discover an ancestor who received an award for exemplary service. This dataset contains information on the awards and decorations of honor that were awarded to allied foreign military personnel, soldiers, sailors, and U.S. military officers. During the American Civil War, the Medal of Honor was established as the highest military decoration given by the United States government to members of the armed forces. In order to receive such a medal, the individual must have risked their own life “above and beyond the call of duty in action” against the enemy of the U.S. Many military decorations were also awarded during the Vietnam War, which took place between the years of 1955 and 1975.
War Records of the Knickerbocker Club, 1914–1918
Sometimes books about the military can provide the most contextual information about those who served. In honor of the soldiers who served in WWI, the Board of Governors of the Knickerbocker Club, a gentleman’s club in new York City, appointed a committee whose responsibility was to gather the names of the members who had served in WWI. The first attempt to compile this information was deemed unsuccessful, but in September 1919 Francis R. Appleton, Jr. successfully undertook the project. He created a questionnaire that asked for a full report on each soldier’s war activities. To his delight, he received 298 completed surveys and 165 photographs of members who served. It took over a year to compile and validate the information Appleton had gathered, however, in 1921, the book was finally published. A unique publication, this book provides short, detailed stories about many soldiers. And, as a special treat, many excerpts include an original photograph of the soldier.
Sometimes, it can be tough to find your ancestors in specific military records, but don’t get discouraged, Remember, you can often discover information by thinking outside the box and diving into databases that you’ve never seen before. We hope that these must-search collections can help you get one step closer to discovering your family’s story.