Thursday, March 23, 2017

Women's History Month 2017: Searching for Her in His Military Records

Have you ordered the military records for your World War I soldier? You may be surprised at who else shows up in those records.

There are some surprises in my paternal great-grandfather's military records; he served in the Navy right after the end of World War I. Yes, his service is documented in those records but the names of three women in his life also appear.

He entered the service while living with his parents. Not surprisingly, his mother is listed as the next of kin and the beneficiary of his insurance. Both of his parents were alive at this time but his father's name does not appear on these records.

What other women appear on these records? While my great-grandfather was in the Navy, he met and fell in love with my great-grandmother and they married.

But her name does not appear in these records. Information about their marriage does, but not her name.

However, when it came time to be discharged he wanted to be discharged in California, where his new wife and her family lived. So he wrote a letter to his commanding officer explaining the situation. He also included a statement from two witnesses who verified that his wife lived in California and they had established a home there. The two witnesses? His wife's mother and sister.

Always get the military records. There is often information that you didn't expect to find. If you're lucky, that information may include the women in his life.

Additional Resources:

National Archives - Research in Military Records

FamilySearch - World War I United States Military Records

Library and Archives Canada - Personnel Records of the First World War

The National Archives (UK) - How to look for records of First World War

Schaefer, Christina K. The Great War: A Guide to the Service Records of All the World's Fighting Men and Volunteers. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing, 2006.

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