Researching Your Military Ancestors

  1. Interview relatives and write down family stories related to military ancestors.
  2. Collect home sources of information such as photographs of soldiers in uniform, correspondence, diaries/journals, medals, patches, military papers, and memorabilia.
  3. Obtain obituaries – often give military information.  Click here to read about searching for obituaries in Buffalo newspapers.
  4. Visit gravestones – may include military details such as war fought in and regiment.  A list of cemetery records in the Grosvenor Room is available at this link.
  5. Consider which of your ancestors were eligible for military service during times of war.
  6. Learn details about potential military ancestors such as birth date and place, family member names, and residence at wartime.  This will help identify your ancestor in records and will help you learn where to look for records.
  7. Census records – the 1840, 1890 veteran’s schedule, 1910, and 1930 censuses ask for military service information.  Learn what census resources are available in the Grosvenor Room by clicking here.   To read census questions, click here.
  8. Newspapers often wrote profiles on local soldiers and/or listed those who died in service.
  9. Local history books usually include details of local soldiers and regiments that fought in times of war.
  10. Check lineage and fraternal society publications such as Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, Grand Army of the Republic, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and others.
  11. Military discharge papers – these are often kept at the county clerk’s office where the soldier was discharged.
  12. Military rosters – usually name the soldiers who enlisted, where and when they enlisted, and their regiment and company.
  13. Military pension files – are usually rich in genealogical detail because those who applied for pensions had to prove their identity and their relationship to the soldier.  You may find documents such as bible records; birth, death, and marriage records; and affidavits of witnesses to military service or life events.
  14. Military histories – often list servicemen and detail battles fought in.
  15. Genealogy databases The Library subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest Online (HQ) which both include military records.   Ancestry includes resources such as the Civil War Pension index, World War I Draft Registration Cards, Revolutionary War Compiled Military Service Records, World War II “Old Man’s Draft” Registration Cards, and other records.  HQ includes Revolutionary War Pension Files and a book collection which includes some military histories, lineage/fraternal society publications, and local histories.  HQ also includes a genealogy/local history periodicals index, which could lead to transcribed military records or how-to articles on military research.

Click here to see select lists of military resources available in the Grosvenor Room.

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