Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Ask Ancestry Anne, Military Records

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. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.


Vera McHale 

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.

April 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm
Gail brown 

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..

April 23, 2014 at 2:59 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!

April 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm
Cheryl McGinnis Johnson 


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!

April 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm
Elsie Lively 

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.

April 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm
Sue Caldwell 

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

April 24, 2014 at 8:54 am
Friday Finds – 04/25/14 

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

April 25, 2014 at 10:02 am
May 5, 2014 at 10:16 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!

July 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm