Course #5: They Marched from Boys to Men: Nineteenth Century Military Research

Instructor: Sandra Rumble
Dates offered: Thursdays, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27, and Nov. 3 (optional)
Time: 10:00 am PT to 2:00 pm PT
Cost: $300
Registration: 8 August-14 August

Course Description:
Military records contain firsthand information documenting service, post-war  life, family, and those all-important FAN club members. Join us in delving into  the 18th and the 19th-century treasure trove of United States military records  that reveal the details of your ancestor’s service. Examine the records that  reveal military life hardships, battles, promotions, illness and injury, prisoner of-war, and courts-martial. Revelations in pension records identify the events  that resulted in a life-altering disability, impacting the soldier’s ability to earn a  living and support his family. 

With the experience gained through lectures, hands-on exercises, scavenger  hunts, and course project, students will learn where to search for extant  military records and uncover and assemble the story of their own ancestor  soldier’s service. There is no need to bring your “own” soldier to class. Each  student will be assigned a soldier and all of his records for their course project.  Each week’s homework assignment will add additional information found in  the discussed records to the soldier’s profile. Interested students will have the  (optional) opportunity to present their soldier’s service story by the end of the  course.

Skill Based Requirements:
Intermediate to advanced researchers with a working knowledge of a variety of genealogical sources. Knowledge of or familiarity with the genealogical proof  standard (GPS) and FAN club will be helpful. Military record knowledge is not  required.

Course Materials:
A laptop (or tablet) with access to a spreadsheet and word processing  program is required. PowerPoint or equivalent program will be needed for  students wishing to present their project soldier’s story. • Fold3 subscription (, part of Ancestry All Access subscriptions, or  $7.95/month as of Mar 2022)

Recommended Resources:

  • Christine Rose, Military Bounty Land 1776-1855, (San Jose, California: CR  Publications, 2011).
  • John P. Deeben, Genealogy Tool Kit, Getting Started on Your Family History  at the National Archives, (Washington, DC: Foundation for the National  Archives, 2012).
  • Trevor K. Plante, compiler, Military Service Records at the National Archives,  Reference Information Paper 109, (Washington, DC: National Archives and  Records Administration), online at:

Course Outline

Session 1:

  • Introductions and Overview of the Course 
  • Lecture: “Compiled Military Service Records & Carded Medical Records”
  • In-class scavenger hunt 
  • Lecture: “Unit Records” 
  • In-class activity 
  • Demonstration & in-class activity
  • Introduction of Course Project

Session 2:

  • Q&A Class 1 Homework 
  • Lecture: “Congress Takes Action” 
  • In-class scavenger hunt 
  • Lecture: “Just for You!” 
  • Lecture: “The Commissioner of Pensions” 
  • In-class exercise 
  • Homework: Adding the Pension

Session 3:

  • Q&A Class 2 Homework 
  • Lecture: “Show Me The Battlefield” 
  • Lecture: “The Adjutant Generals Office (AGO)” ▪ In-class scavenger hunt 
  • Lecture: “Headed to Court” 
  • In-class scavenger hunt
  • Homework: Add the Shine

Session 4:

  • Q&A Class 3 Homework 
  • Lecture: “Federal Bounty Lands” 
  • In-class scavenger hunt 
  • Lecture: “General Land Office” 
  • In-class exercise 
  • Demonstration of google maps
  • Homework: Map it!

Session 5 (optional one hour):

  • Q&A Project Wrap-Up
  • Optional student presentations for interested students