Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Military Conflicts, War and Genealogical Research

At yesterday’s Manatee Genealogical Society meeting we were fortunate to hear one of Lee County Library’s Reference Librarian and avid genealogist, Bryan Mulcahy’s presentations. The link will take you to the society’s web page. Bryan’s presentation is there in PDF form, click on his March 3, 2015 presentation.  It is in several parts.

Bryan totally believes in NOT recreating the wheel. In that vein he has developed 120 study guides that he will email to you upon request. He is also open to any and all questions regarding genealogy research. He says he specializes in “silly” questions – don’t be afraid to ask.

His handout was a two and a half page listing of wars in America from 1565 through 1975. Another page and a half was a bibliography list of military resources.

Some notes of interest:
Don’t start with military research.  When you have a pretty good research foundation, military research can fill in important information;
Military service was a fast tract to citizenship;
Utilize Regimental histories. When trying to find a regiment, check a 50-100 mile radius from your ancestor’s home;
County histories. Often veterans registered with the county in order to qualify for special programs.  In some states/counties, this was mandatory. In others, voluntary;
Veterans sometimes stored documents behind old pictures.  When cleaning out a deceased relative’s house, take the frames off those old photos. You may be surprised at what you find;
Check with Veterans’ organizations to see what information they might have;
Read carbon paper.  When cleaning out, if you find a box of used carbon paper, hold it up to the light. You might find a resume, or important letters imprinted into the carbon. There is technology today that can translate;
Read the back of tombstones. Sometimes there will be a mini-biography located there;
National Archives at St. Louis fire 12 July 1973.  Indeed a tragedy.   But, some military personnel records can be reconstructed.  Some military personnel resubmitted their information. So, if the NPRC responds the records were destroyed, if you go there and search, you might find that your ancestor’s records were not.  The NPRC has very strict guidelines about who they release personnel information to.
Using the G word.  In doing library research you might have better luck asking for the societal history and statistics section rather than the genealogy section.  Not all libraries have the benefit of a dedicated genealogy research librarian like Bryan Mulcahy.

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