Monday, December 8, 2008

Visiting NARA: Genealogical Research Section B

I recently made my first visit to the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). This is one in a series of articles inspired by that visit to help you make your first visit to the National Archives.

Genealogical Research, Section B

NARA Genealogical Research, Section B coverFor my example of using Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States, I'll look at Section B, "Military Records," chapters 4 and 5, "Records of the Regular Army" and "Service Records of Volunteers," respectively. The numbered subsections (and tables) of chapters 4 and 5 are

CHAPTER 4 Records of the Regular Army

4.1 Introductions

4.2 Records Relating to Officers and Enlisted Men

4.3 Records of Officers

Table 5 Microfilm Publications of Regular Army Returns

4.4 Records of Enlisted Men

CHAPTER 5 Service Records of Volunteers

5.1 Introduction: Compiled Military Service Records

5.2 Volunteer Service Records by War

5.2.1 Revolutionary War

Table 6 Selected Genealogical Research Aids: Revolutionary War

5.2.2 Post-Revolutionary War Period

5.2.3 War of 1812

5.2.4 Indian Wars

Table 7 Selected Genealogical Search Aids: War of 1812

5.2.5 Mexican War

Table 8 Microfilmed Indexes to Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteers During the Indian Wars

5.2.6 Civil War—Union

Table 9 Microfilmed Indexes and Compiled Military Service Records for Union Army Volunteers

Table 10 Selected Genealogical Research Aids: Civil War—Union

5.2.7 Civil War—Confederate

Table 11 Microfilmed Indexes and Compiled Military Service Records for Confederate Army Volunteers

Table 12 Selected Genealogical Research Aids: Civil War—Confederate

5.2.8 Spanish-American War

5.2.9 Philippine Insurrection

Table 13 Selected Genealogical Research Aids: Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection

5.3 Records of Military Service in the 20th Century

5.3.1 World War I: Draft Records

5.3.2 World War II: Draft Records

5.3.3 Other Records

An online alternative to these chapters is Military Service Records at the National Archives, Reference Information Paper (RIP) 109. In either case, an excellent ancillary resource is "An Overview of Records at the National Archives Relating to Military Service," by Trevor K. Plante, Prologue Magazine.

Historically, most soldiers in our wars were volunteers. As you search for your ancestors, don't be surprised to find the size of the regular army to be small compared to the total number of combatants. So if you fail to find an ancestor in records of the regular army, be sure to check volunteer units and state militia (forerunners of today's National Guard).

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