Remembering World War I: Timeline, Photos, and Records

November 12, 2018  - by 
Soldiers in World War 1

From 1914–1918, millions of brave men and women around the world left their homes to fight for their countries in the Great War. It’s likely that somewhere along this WWI timeline, someone in your family tree was among these soldiers. Do you know their story? Draft and service records from World War I can be a rich source of information about your ancestors, including physical descriptions, vital information, and details about their involvement in the war. Discover the part your ancestor played in the war to end all wars, preserve their legacy, and find out how it lives on in you.

Search Word War I Records


WWI Timeline: A Brief History

ww1 timeline

World War I began on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Russia and Germany soon joined the conflict, followed by Britain, France, and Italy. On April 6, 1917, the US declared war on Germany, and 2.8 million men were drafted to fight.

Over the course of the next eighteen months, more sixty million troops worldwide and 4 million US troops were involved. By the end of the Great War on November 11, 1918, the violence across Europe resulted in an estimated thirty-seven million casualties and more than sixteen million deaths (including both civilians and military personnel).

Armistice Day and the End of WWI

girls hold newspaper signaling end of WWI, a significant event in ww1 timeline

November 11, 2018 is the centennial of armistice, which marked the end of World War I.

The Significance of Poppies in WWI

ww1 poppies

Poppies are a symbol of respect and remembrance of those who died in World War I.

WWI Records and Genealogy

You can discover where your family was on this WWI timeline through searching records on FamilySearch.

There are plenty of records available to help you learn about your ancestors who fought in World War I, including draft and service records, local newspapers, burial registers, and more. If you know where your ancestor was from or what unit they served in, you can look for them in United States World War I State and Local Histories or United States World War I Unit Histories. Dive into FamilySearch’s collections to see what you can discover. Or, help others find their ancestors by helping to index WWI records.

Find more information about United States World War I military records. Discover your relative’s WWI draft card. Learn more about major WWI timeline events and where your ancestors were in the articles below.

Find Your Ancestors in WWI Records

Find out how to uncover and share your WWI ancestors’ stories with records on FamilySearch.

WWI and Indexed Records

Military records can provide insights into your ancestors’ lives and the lives of those around them.

Access US Soldiers’ Records from WWI

Learn about some of the most valuable WWI records with this presentation from RootsTech 2018.

The Harlem Hell Fighters

Learn about the lives of African American soldiers in WW1.
One group of men who served on the front lines was the 369th infantry of the 93rd division, a group of African American soldiers better known as the Harlem Hellfighters and Men of Bronze, nicknames given to them by the French. These men were known for their fierce combat, fighting longer and harder than any other infantry. The tenacity and toughness of the Harlem Hellfighters continue with us today as we remember and honor their lives and the lives of all who valiantly served in the military.

Continue reading . . .

Military Dogs in the War

More than 50,000 military dogs served in World War I, including the famous Sergeant Stubby. World War I was the first war in which military dogs were mobilized on a massive, organized scale.

Continue reading . . .

WWI Files to Download and Print

You can download and print this poster and rack card to spread the word and invite others to honor and remember those impacted by WWI.

Download and share WW1 heritage cards.

Download here
Download and share ww1 heritage banner.

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  1. My mother was born in Germany in 1910. My father’s parents were born in Germany in the 1800’s. I know one of my first cousins belonged to the Hitler Youth. This was not voluntary for him. How do I find out about the other side of the story? About any of my family that might have fought on the side of the Germans?

  2. I am grateful for any information I can get on my relatives, this is sure to help in finding some of my family that might have been in or effected by the war, since all of my family is mostly in one or more of the military our heritage seems to reflect the military so much. Thank you again.

  3. Hello, any suggested sources or individuals with strong familiarity and knowledge of the Gorrells History of WWI records to seek consultation or advice research would be appreciated. I have obtained a number of documents although looking to obtain insight on interpretation and/or other means to retrace relative’s assignments, actions in WWI. Thanks in advance.

  4. I was glad to find my father’s draft card, but disappointed that there was no information that we could use to help in our search.

  5. My grandson, who is visiting Washington, D.C., sent me a text asking me the name of my two uncles who served in WWII. One of the uncles was Harvey O. Lunt. I didn’t know I had another uncle who served in WWll. Can you help me?

  6. My uncle, John Alexander McLean, born in Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1898, bantamweight champion of the Canadian Army killed in France on October 28, 1918.

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