Military Records: Taking the BYU Course

Back in August I did a blog entry about “going back to school” as a genealogist by taking some online courses. Brigham Young University offers several free courses, and DearMYRTLE and I agreed we would take the one on Military Records.

This self-paced course can be completed in one day, as it has one lesson of 28 screens with several self-tests along the way. The tests not only give immediate feedback, but also explanations of why your answer was right or wrong.  It also has several appendices with resources and examples.

The best part about this course for me was Appendix A, the Sample Outline, which gives you a good roadmap to what, how, where and why to search military records for genealogical information.

The worst part about the course for me was the directions for using the Family History Library Catalog to locate an index of WWI records. It says:

“The Family History Library has the WWI Draft Records on microfilm. They may be located by:

  • Searching the Family History Library Catalog under the following locality: United States, Military Records, World War, 1914 – 1918, Draft
    Selecting the state, county, and city where your ancestor lived between 1914 and 1918 “

After much clicking I finally came to this page: http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titlefilmnotes&columns=*%2C0%2C0&titleno=371164&disp=Draft+registration%2C+World+War+I++.

It wasn’t easy.

The course also doesn’t note that some military records are available online, at least in transcribed form, from commercial sites such as Ancestry.com.  I was able to find my father’s WWII record, as below, using Ancestry’s search, and much faster than using the FHC technique above.

Dad’sMil

Still, I learned a lot about military records and a printout of the Appendix A will accompany me in my future search for ancestors’ military careers.

About Libbi

Writer for 30 years. Genealogy a hobby for about 40 years. Yes, I'm in my 50's, I learned about genealogy at my mother's knee!
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