As we move through 2018, we get closer to the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I, a war in which some of our ancestors fought and died. Have you started your research? Are you attending any commemorations or unveiling of new war memorials? Are you adding your new information to your family tree? Have you located photographs for your soldier?
For those who have not started their research or need some help, I have several tips for you. For World War I research you will use the same process as World War II research, so this WWII Research Guide can help. The basic records you need are the same and in the same locations. You can discover a lot of information on World War I on Ancestry, Fold3, and Newspapers.com for your World War I soldier.
You may want to also review a few articles I wrote last year on collections on Ancestry and Fold3.
- Locating World War I Photographs
- World War I Records on Fold3.com
- What to Know About World War I Burial Files
- U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939
And, to help you stay organized, please read Have I Lost It? 5 Tips to Organize Your Military Research.
Now that you have reviewed the research possibilities from those articles, I encourage you to go to Fold3 and explore all the WWI collections. There are many for British troops, and quite a few for Americans. I found one interesting collection I had not explored that those with New York state roots may find useful—WWI New York Army Cards. When you click this publication you will see several subsets which include: WWI Army Cards, WWII Army Nurse Cards, WWI Army/Navy Cards from the Vault, WWI Marine Cards, WWI Navy Cards, and WWI Officer Cards.
I chose Cards from the Vault and explored the few names listed there. Did you know the Roosevelt family has cards there? As in Teddy Roosevelt? Quentin Roosevelt, who died in World War I and is buried overseas, has a card.
What exactly are these cards? While they are called New York Army Cards, they contain the same information found on WWI or WWII Service Cards. These cards do not exist for every state. Often you can find them in State Archives or Regional National Archive Branches. New York seems to have theirs intact. Unfortunately for me, none exist for the State of Illinois.
What can we learn about a WWI soldier’s service from these types of cards?
- Name, Serial Number, and all units, with dates in which they served.
- Changes in rank and often the date that change occurred.
- Death information if they died in service.
- Awards and decorations received.
- Biographical information.
- Information on where you might find other military records. See Theodore Roosevelt’s Card as it contains two sides with information.
Using the information on these cards, you can more easily research WWI Company Rosters and Payroll records at the NPRC in St. Louis. With the unit information contained on the cards, you can start a search for unit records at NARA College Park, Maryland. The basics of what you need are contained in these cards!
As we approach the 100th Anniversary, what research do you plan to do online and off, to tell your WWI soldier’s story? How do plan to share that information? Create more facts in your Ancestry family tree? Add to the Fold3.com Memorial Profile for your soldier? Write a short story to submit to a publication? We’d love to hear what you plan to do.