2018 June – U.S. Military Research

In-depth Sources for U.S. Military Research

Coordinator: Michael Jefferey Hall (Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer, FamilySearch)

Additional Instructors:
Rebecca Koford, CG,  and Michael L. Strauss, AG, Licensed PI

Held June 24-29, 2018, at La Roche College, Pittsburgh, PA. Registration Information.

This intermediate-level course will be an in-depth examination of the various military records that are highly used in conducting Family History research. These records include Compiled Service Records, Pensions, Bounty Land Warrants, Muster Rolls, Ships Logs, etc. Key military terminology words and phrases will be identified, examined and discussed as a preparation for the in-depth study of the before-mentioned records. Understanding the patterns associated with each of the records, will give the student a working knowledge of each record type, and its importance. In addition, a practical application and critical thinking workshop will follow each class which will give the student a “hands on” experience with mentors to assist. The workshop, and case studies regarding the use of these records, will provide an in-depth knowledge that will enable the student to conduct family history research using military records and/or records associated with the military. Each workshop will conclude with answers to the research questions and where the documents many lead to further research.

MONDAY

Overview and Research Fundamentals (Michael J. Hall)

An overview of the classes within, and the objectives of the course will be discussed. The Instructors will be introduced, and a discussion of the tools needed for the course; such as military terminology lists. A discussion of how the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) can and should be applied in conducting military research.

Understanding the Basic Organizational Structure of Past and Present U.S. Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force Units (Michael J. Hall)

The basic military organization of units within each branch of the United States military forces will be identified, examined, and discussed. A small practical application and critical thinking workshop will follow. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application, and where the documents may lead to further research.

Lunch Break

Compiled Service Records (CSR), Part I (Michael L. Strauss)

The CSR is the core of an individuals’ military service. This class will focus on the CSR located in the National Archives (NARA) in Washington, DC. The CSR will be identified, examined, and discussed in-depth in how it relates to the military service of an individual.

Compiled Service Records (CSR), Part II (Michael L. Strauss)

The class will start with a short review of the prior class; which will be followed by a hands on experience reading, analyzing, and evaluating a CSR. This practical thinking exercise will allow the participant to understand and use CSR’s. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application, and where the documents may lead to further research.

Optional end of Monday: A one-on-one opportunity to discuss a student’s personal military research problem(Michael J. Hall)

TUESDAY

Dissection of a Pension, Part I (Rebecca Koford)

A short history of pension laws from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War will begin the class. The evolution of the pension process, and pension fraud will be discussed and examined. The class will conclude with a discussion on the basic differences between the pensions from the different wars and where those may be obtained, both online and off.

Dissection of a Pension, Part II (Rebecca Koford)

In this session, students will discuss and examine the various documents associated with pensions for their genealogical and narrative value. These documents will include types of applications, certificates, doctor’s reports, affidavits, family bibles, vital records, lawyers correspondence, marriage records, and widow’s records, just to name a few.

Lunch Break

Dissection of a Pension, Part III (Rebecca Koford)

This class will be a hands on experience in reading, analyzing, and evaluating pension records. This practical critical thinking exercise that will allow the participant to understand, and use pension records. Participants will explore pension samples to solve research goals. Pension files will be provided; these will consist of Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War documents. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application, and where the documents may lead to further research.

United States Coast Guard and their Predecessor Agencies Including the Revenue Cutter Service, U.S. Life Saving Service, and the U.S. Lighthouse Service (Michael L. Strauss)

The focus of this class will be the organization and history of each service, and the methodology used to research their documents. A small practical application and critical thinking exercise will allow the participant to understand and use the various documents associated with each organization. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application, and where the documents may lead to further research.

Optional end of Tuesday: A one-on-one opportunity to discuss a student’s personal military research problem(Michael J. Hall)

WEDNESDAY

Bounty Land, Part I (Rebecca Koford)

The class will start with an introduction to the concept of bounty land for military service. A review of the history of bounty land origins will follow. Federal bounty land records of the Revolutionary War period will be discussed, examined, and analyzed; such as allotted lands, types of records created, and where those records can be located. In addition, military bounty lands offered during the Revolutionary War period by individual states will be explored, including where those lands were located, and where the record can be currently found for each state. Finally, the difference between regular army and militia awards will be examined.

Bounty Land, Part II (Rebecca Koford)

Federal bounty land records for the War of 1812, and the Spanish-American War periods will be discussed, examined, and analyzed; such as allotted lands, types of records created, and where those records can be located. The history of military bounty lands will then be discussed. The class will conclude with a discussion and examination of land speculators and the difficulties in the patent process.

Lunch Break

Bounty Land, Part III (Rebecca Koford)

This class will be a hands on experience in reading, analyzing, and evaluating bounty land records. This practical critical thinking exercise that will allow the participant to understand, and use bounty land records. Participants will review and explore bounty land applications, warrants, and patents with guided questions regarding a series of research goals derived from the bounty land record examples provided. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application, and where the documents may lead to further research.

The Value of Unit Histories and Movement (Michael J. Hall)

A discussion and understanding of the importance of tracing the movements of an ancestor’s military unit, and the wealth of genealogical related resources generated thereof. The importance of the United States Army Heritage & Education Center (USAHEC) will discussed and examined. A small practical application and critical thinking exercise will allow the participant to understand and use the various documents associated with each organization. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the small practical application, and where the documents may lead to further research.

Optional end of Wednesday: A one-on-one opportunity to discuss a student’s personal military research problem(Michael J. Hall)

THURSDAY

US Naval and Marine Corps Records and a Few Diplomatic Records, Part I (Michael J. Hall)

The records associated with the Naval Historical Foundation: Preservation, Education, and Commemoration of Naval History, the U.S. Marine Corps History Division, and Diplomatic Records and Consular dispatches will be discussed and examined. These records will also include muster rolls, and rendezvous documents.

US Naval and Marine Corps Records and a Few Diplomatic Records, Part II (Michael J. Hall)

This class will be a hands on experience in reading, analyzing, and evaluating Naval, Marine Corps, and diplomatic records. This practical critical thinking exercise that will allow the participant to understand, and use these records. Participants will review and explore various documents associated with Naval, Marine Corps, and Diplomatic records with guided questions regarding a series of research goals. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application, and where the documents may lead to further research.

Lunch Break

Researching Your WWI Ancestors (Michael L. Strauss)

The focus of this class will be on the records, and the methodology used to research World War One documents. The effects of the 1973 fire and the possible loss of WWI service files, and the resources that can be used to reconstruct destroyed/missing files (including state and local) will be identified, discussed, and examined. A small practical application and critical thinking exercise will allow the participant to understand and use the various documents associated with WWI. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application and where the documents may lead to further research.

Researching Your WWII Ancestors (Michael L. Strauss)

The focus of this class will be on the records, and the methodology used to research World War Two documents. The effects of the 1973 fire and the possible loss of WWII service files, and the resources that can be used to reconstruct destroyed/missing files (including state and local) will be identified, discussed, and examined. A small practical application and critical thinking exercise will allow the participant to understand and use the various documents associated with WWII. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application and where the documents may lead to further research.

Optional end of Thursday: A one-on-one opportunity to discuss a student’s personal military research problem(Michael J. Hall)

FRIDAY

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 1933-1942 (Michael L. Strauss)

The focus of this class will be on the organization, history, persons, and records associated with the CCC. In addition, key historical and genealogical material, the methodology used to research CCC documents will be discussed. The Bonus Army men (WWI veterans), CCC boys, Government Civilian Employees, and US Military personnel will be identified, discussed and examined. A small practical application and critical thinking exercise will allow the participant to understand and use the various documents associated with the CCC. The class will conclude with a discussion of the answers to the practical application and where the documents may lead to further research.

Review of Objectives and Classes. Q&A (Michael J. Hall)

A review of the objectives and the classes of the course will be discussed and evaluated. A Question and Answer period will follow.

Military Survival awards, and Completion Certificates will be distributed before lunch.