If you are conducting World War I research for an Indiana ancestor, your task just became a lot easier.
The Indiana Archives and Records Administration is digitizing their collection of World War I Military Service Cards and making them available for free online. The project, which is part of the Indiana Archives and Records Administration Virtual Volunteer Program, has digitized and transcribed all service cards with surnames from A-E. Additional cards which are not fully transcribed are available for surnames through ‘FOY’. You can view the current collection online at https://fromthepage.com/indianaarchives/indiana-wwi-service-record-cards
If you’re not familiar with World War I Service Cards, these items are the gateway record to conducting research into your ancestor’s Great War military experiences. When a fire destroyed about 18 million military service records at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973, many researchers gave up trying to conduct research for World War I, World War II, and Korean War ancestors.
But that’s where state service cards save the day.
As most military personnel were organized from state national guard units before they were placed in federal service, individual US states kept records of each volunteer and enlisted person, including women if they served as military nurses or Navy yeomanettes. These cards provide a vital shortcut to uncovering your ancestor’s military details, and while these cards are not as robust as a traditional service record, they provide nearly all vital information needed to bolster your research.
Here’s an example service card from the Indiana collection:
In this one document a researcher can account for the following details:
- Age and Place of Birth
- Military Serial Number and Rank
- Induction Place and Date
- Company/Unit/Regimental Information
- Discharge Camp
- Overseas Service
- Discharge Date
What makes the Indiana project page so amazing is the typed information which makes browsing for a veteran easy and convenient. I can’t wait for additional options such as downloading and sharing items on social media sites. Here’s a screenshot of the service card next to the transcription information:
This amazing collection, as with any volunteer-based initiative, is made successful by the people who provide their skills and talents to push the project forward. At the time I’m writing this blog, it’s August, and the weather is lovely and warm. I know there are a lot of outside things you could be doing. I feel you. No one wants to think about winter yet. But I want to encourage you to put some of those thoughts aside and remember that Armistice Day is coming.
Sunday, November 11 marks the centennial ending of the Great War. Most people remember November 11 as Veterans Day, which is a date set aside to remember both living and fallen American veterans of all wars and conflicts. Before 1954, November 11 was a solemn day of remembrance for all the men and women who had died during the war, and it is still a wide spread tradition in many countries around the world.
Given the importance of the World War I Centennial, I encourage anyone with transcription experience or someone interested in getting started with transcribing genealogy records to give some of their time to the Indiana World War I Service Record Cards project. Imagine the feeling of ensuring the service and sacrifices Indiana’s Great War veterans will be available to everyone, and how these records will open new avenues of research to genealogists for generations to come.
For more information, visit the Indiana Service Card Project at https://fromthepage.com/indianaarchives/indiana-wwi-service-record-cards
And if you need some help with your World War I genealogy research, check out our five free webinars and handouts on the ‘Webinars’ page of our site. Scroll down the page a bit and you’ll find a all five of them. Press the play button and you’re in business! These webinars are free through 2020 from the World War I and America project.
Hope to See You in the Transcription Queue!