As the few remaining veterans of World War I reach the end of their lives, interest in their heroism and in family history in general, appears to be increasing. Many people can remember an older relative who served in one of the two World Wars, but to the younger generations, this is now history. About 24 million men registered for the draft in the United States in 1917 and 1918, but not all who registered were called to serve. Searching for people who served in WWI has never been easier, largely because the Internet has made records more accessible.
Gather as much information as you can about the individual or regiment you want to research. If you know the person you are looking for came from a particular town or area, try the local library or war memorial to see if his name appears. This can be a painstaking way of gathering information and is not easy if you live a distance from the area.
Look at GeneologyBranches.com, where all the draft cards have been indexed, digitized and put online. Remember that not all those who signed up actually served. Men who registered will be on the site if they were born between Sept. 11, 1872, and Sept. 12, 1900. Write down the person's surname, first name or initial before you start your online search.
Research the American Battle Monuments Commission website for more detailed information on a soldier's experiences. The commission was set up by Congress in 1924 to care for foreign military cemeteries. You also can find the stories of various regiments and campaigns on this site.
Look at Ancestry.com, which has databases containing 16 million names. On this site you can research death and casualty lists, draft records, pension records and registration cards. You also can view duty rosters and service records.
Utilize the U.S Department of Defense website. The DOD manages millions of military personnel records, some of which go back to World War I. Relatives can access records for a nominal fee.
- Expect to pay a fee, when doing research on these sites.
Noreen Wainwright has been writing since 1997. Her work has appeared in "The Daily Telegraph," "The Guardian," "The Countryman" and "The Lady." She has a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Liverpool Polytechnic and a postgraduate law degree from Staffordshire University.