Using Revolutionary War Records
Locating and using Revolutionary War records for U.S. genealogy
If your ancestor was a man living in the United States from 1775-1783, he may have served in the Revolutionary War. There were records created for the Revolutionary War that can give genealogical information about your ancestor. Many of the records kept were kept at a local level, so they can often be found in various places.
Daughters of the American Revolution records
One of the easiest ways to determine if your ancestor served in the Revolutionary War is to do a search on the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) website. The D.A.R. is a lineage society where people can join it if they can prove their ancestry to a Revolutionary War soldier. They have an online database that lists the known soldiers in the war. In the database, soldiers are listed, as well as when and where they served and their genealogical information. From the database, you can also see proven lines to the soldier and can order copies of the documents that were submitted by others that proved their lineage to that particular soldier, which are useful when you are working to prove your lineage to a particular soldier.
When men enlisted in the Revolutionary War, there were often enlistment records kept. The information on these lists varies, but you can generally see the regiment in which they served, the place they enlisted from, the age of the person, and sometimes a birthplace. Looking at others that appear near a man on the list can help you to locate potential family members and neighbors. Enlistment records are found on Fold3.com, Ancestry.com, and FamilySearch.org.
Pension and Land Warrant files
One of the most valuable Revolutionary Ward records that give genealogical information are the pension records. In 1780 the Continental Congress passed a pension act for widows and orphans of soldiers. In 1818, Congress passed a law allowing former soldiers and their widows to apply for a pension.
When someone applied for a pension, a person sent in many pages of information to the government that certified the war service of the soldier, including details about his service and other details. Often relatives and neighbors wrote affidavits verifying the soldier's service. Often there are clues in the pension files that can help to identify a soldier's family members. The pension files are found on Fold3.com.
There are a variety of Revolutionary War records available for various states and areas. Ancestry.com has a large collection of searchable Revolutionary War records, as does Fold3.com.
Need help finding more records? Try our genealogical records directory which has more than 1.3 million sources to help you more easily locate the available records.
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