What War Did My Ancestor Serve In?

You know you should look for military records for your ancestor, but what war did he serve in?

Our friends over at Fold3 created this handy little infographic to use as a rule of thumb. There are exceptions to every rule, but this will get you started!

Birth Years of Veterans

Birth Years of Veterans (Right-click on the image to save to your desktop.)


If you want to dig a little deeper into the subject of who served and how to find their story, these presentations will help:

Happy Searching!


About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at She is an active blogger on and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.


1 Vera McHaleApril 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm

This is really nice. I have done a lot of research on when and where wars were fought but this is a nice shortcut to who might have gone where and when or may have missed all wars in their life time. Thank you.

2 Gail brownApril 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm

I am trying to find my nomad it’s been a difficult but would appreciate some help. Her name is Brenda Sue southall. Contact me if you could please and Thank u..

3 AdrianaApril 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Very handy record and pretty to boot.

My 2nd-great-grandfather was born in 1846-1848, but he apparently never served in the Civil War. During that time period and a decade after, he was a real rolling stone who never stayed in one place for too long. I guess he had no interest in fighting. And I am glad he didn’t because if he had died, I wouldn’t be here!

4 Cheryl McGinnis JohnsonApril 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm


I’ve wanted to obtain my father’s draft registration card for WWII. He was born in 1912 and too young for ‘Fourth Registration’ therefore his card is not available unless I provide his address at the time of his registering. Unfortunately that is the reason I need the information on the card. I am trying to trace his steps from 1929 to 1945. He dropped off the face of the earth as far as records go. This would give me information where he was at this time. Can you give me any ideas how to obtain this information. I can give birth/parents just not address at the time. Thanks!

5 Elsie LivelyApril 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Thank you, I appreciate fast look-up “cheat-sheets” for quick reference.

Is there a similar sheet for England’s wars and birth years? They have a longer history than we do so something going back only to around the same time frame would even be helpful, or a bit before.

6 Sue CaldwellApril 24, 2014 at 8:54 am

Fantastic! I’d love to see more infographics like this for other research topics.

7 Friday Finds – 04/25/14April 25, 2014 at 10:02 am

[...] What War Did My Ancestor Serve In?, Ancestry [...]

[...]   [...]

9 SaraJuly 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Is there a template for this that we can fill in with our ancestors? If yes, would you please provide a link. I’ve tried to find it on Fold3, but no luck. Thanks!

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