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Beginning United States World War I Research

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Begin your research by looking for a discharge certificate, a picture of your ancestor or relative in uniform, a victory or service medal or any other record that identifies military service. Other sources include a cemetery tombstone which may also include the military unit, an obituary or evidence of membership in a local American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars Post (VFW). A local war memorial might a include the names of the men and women who served or died in the war. Questions 30 and 31 of the 1930 United States Census will also identify World War Veterans(WW). Contact other relatives who might have information about possible service. Local newspapers will be a good source to find information about the men and women who served in the war. The majority of the men that served in the armed forces were born between 1873 and 1900.

The men that did serve could have enlisted in the Regular Army or the National Guard. Most however were inducted or drafted through the Selective Service.The Selective Service Draft Registration Cards have been indexed and are available on FamilySearch. It is also important to identify the military unit, division, regiment, naval vessel etc. The following wiki tables can help you identify what division and training camp your relative or ancestor's military unit was assigned.

Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]

Local libraries, historical societies and state archives may also have World War records including unit histories or enlistment records in the National Guard and state of service cards.. The National Archives will have additional records of the American Expeditionary Forces.

The following publications will identify and discuss records that were created on soldiers and their military units.

Number of Soldiers Serving by Age from April 1, 1917 - December 31, 1919[edit | edit source]

Age Number Age Number Age Number
22 506,426 31 117,316 41 5,165
23 440,581 18 62,849 42 4,067
24 381,321 32 47,890 43 3,438
25 328,185 33 20,967 44 3,077
21 293,161 34 16,407 45 2,560
26 283,276 35 13,318 46 2,050
27 235,904 17 12,846 47 1,680
28 214,133 36 10,992 48 1,543
29 187,040 37 9,356 49 1,237
30 160,735 38 9,086 50 + 5,038
20 152,635 39 8,039 16 935
19 122,977 40 6,747 15 140
14 16

Source:The Medical Department of the United State Army in the World War V. 15, Pt 2 Statistics Washington, DC: GPO, 1921. Page 25, Table 6, Strength by Age....; Estimated from ages furnished by 3,683,133 applicants for War Risk Insurance.

Archives and Research Centers[edit | edit source]

National Archives at St.Louis

The National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri

Related Websites[edit | edit source]

Related FamilySearch Blog Articles[edit | edit source]

Reference[edit | edit source]

  • Edward A Gutierrez.. Doughboys on the Great War. How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military Experiences. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2014.
  • Richard Rubin. The Last of the Doughboys. The Forgotten Generation and their Forgotten World War. Boston:Mariner Books, 2013.

Recording Your Ancestor's Military Service

Articles[edit | edit source]

Prologue Quarterly Publication of the National Archives[edit | edit source]

NGS Magazine (National Genealogical Society)[edit | edit source]

  • Tina Beaird. Recreating a World War I Veteran's Service History. 42 #2 (April-June 2017):11-15.
  • Craig Robert Scott. Tracing the Movements of US Army Units in World War I. 42 #2 (April-June 2017):17-22.
  • David R. Hardin. Official Military Personnel Files of World War I Veterans. 42 #2 (April-June 2017):23-27.
  • Kathy Petlewski. World War I and the Hyphenated Americans on the Homefront. 42 #2 (April-June 2017):29-34.
  • Claire Prechtel Kluskens.Interment of Enemy Aliens During World War I. 42 #2 (April-June 2017):35-39.
  • Julie Miller. Enemy Alien Registrations during World War I. 44 #2 (April-June 2018):21-28.
  • John W. Graham.Gold Star Mother Pilgrimages of the 1930s. 44 #2 (April-June 2018):35-39.
  • Susan Goss Johnson.World War I Statement of Service Cards. 43 #3 (July-September 2017):42-45.
  • Jonathan R. Casey and Stacie Peterson. The National World War I Museum and Memorial's Edward Jones Research Center. 43 #3 (July-September 2017):46-48.
  • Theresa Fitzgerald. Auxiliary Records of World War I Veterans. NGS Magazine 43 #4 (October-December 2017):50-55.
  • John P. Deeden. Military Service in the 'War to End all War.' NGS Magazine 37 #2 (April-June 2011): 26-32.
  • Patricia A. Case. Don't Let Your Twentieth Century Veterans Fade Away."The Genealogical Helper (Jan-Feb., 1987):15-18.