Tracing Immigrants Arrival Military Records
Many immigrants served in the military of their new countries. Thousands served in the United States' army during the nineteenth century. As a result, some military records provide clues to immigrant origins. The following are especially helpful:
Pension Application Papers. These may include name; rank; military unit; period of service; residence; age; place and date of birth, marriage, and death; and the nature of disability or proof of need.
Service records. Service records document a soldier's involvement in the military. Descriptive rolls or enlistment papers may also list the birthplace. For an online service record index see Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System.
Census records may indicate that the immigrant served in the military. For example, the 1910 United States census identifies soldiers who served in the American Civil War. Sometimes a separate schedule (that may not show birthplace) was taken of veterans, such as the 1890 United States census.
Other records that could list birthplaces include unit histories with unit rosters, veteran organization records (such as the Grand Army of the Republic), cemetery records, and old soldiers' home records.
Immigrants honorably discharged were usually eligible for citizenship based on their military service. The naturalization process was often simplified for them, and separate records of soldier naturalizations may have been kept.