Jewish Military Records
|Jewish Genealogy Research|
Military records identify individuals who served in the armed forces or who were eligible to serve. Evidence that an ancestor served in the military may be found in family records, biographies, census returns, probate records, civil registration or vital records, obituaries, records of veterans’ organizations, and church or synagogue records.
In some countries military service or military registration was mandatory. Russia and Austria used the military as a way to assimilate Jews. Most people served for only a short period of time while others made it their lifetime career. Officers usually came from the upper classes while soldiers usually came from the general population. Jews were able to serve as military officers in many countries.
All military organizations (army, navy, coast guard, marines, militia, fencibles, yeomanry, and territorial armies) kept records. These records contain details about a person’s military service including conduct, duty assignments, military schooling, pay, pension, and promotions. They also include genealogical information such as age or birth date, birthplace, occupation and residence prior to joining, physical description, and sometimes information about other family members. Military conscription rolls in countries such as Denmark and Germany listed all males from the time of their birth until they reached the age of service (about 18–21) or were too old to be eligible for military service (about 34–40).
To use military records, you must first find out the country, province, or state your ancestor lived in at the time he or she may have served in the military. Then learn what branches of the armed forces were found in these localities. Finally, determine what records were generated by the military, when they begin, and where these records are located.
United States Military Records provides extensive information about federal and other military records and search strategies. Also search this Wiki for "Military Records" and the state or country where your ancestor lived.
The library has extensive military records for countries such as Austria and the United States but little for others. Look in the Locality Search (by country, state, county, and city where your ancestor lived) of the FamilySearch Catalog under the topic Military Records.
Information on people who served in the military may also be found on the Internet. For example, there is a searchable database of Jewish veterans of the American Civil War taken from an 1895 Jewish directory. To find this database go to:
Austrian Military Records
The Library has more than 1500 Austrian military records, mostly for the years 1740–1870. These contain valuable genealogical information.
The Austrian Empire began universal conscription in 1868. Military records from the Austrian Empire include documents from parts or all of present-day Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Rumania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
Documents are divided into two large collections, the records of the Central Command and those of individual military units. Many types of records are found in both these categories, some including more genealogical information than others.
The Central Command records include the following types of records:
Military Commissions. Lists officers’ appointments, commissions, and instructions.
Nobility Grants. Includes land or property grants awarded for valor.
Vital Certificates.Records births to and marriages and deaths of military personnel.
Army Rank and Regiment Schematics. Lists military personnel by rank and unit.
Pension and Assistance Records in four areas:
a) Pension records
b) Invalid Office records
c) Orphans’ Commission records
d) Soldier Orphans records
Payment Books. Records wages and salary data and includes some biographical information.
Marriage Bonds. Lists family members’ names and occasionally has spouse’s place of origin.
Military School Records. Includes biographical information.
Military Court Records. Includes probate information for military personnel.
Records of individual units include:
Muster Rolls. Lists soldier’s name, birthplace, age, religion, occupation, marital status, and names of dependant children.
Foundation Books (muster rolls compiled locally). Summarizes soldier’s career, including age, postings, and marriage information.
Service Records. Supplements and muster rolls with information about a soldier’s actual service record. Includes name, rank, birth date, marriage information, religion, education, place and date of induction, and decorations.
Religious Vital Registers of Individual Units. Lists birth, marriage, and death information.
For more information about Austrian military records at the Family History Library, see:
Blodgett, Steven W. Great-grandfather was in the Imperial Cavalry: Using Austrian Military Records as an Aid to Writing Family History. Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President, 1980. (FHL book 929.1 W893 1980 v. 7 pt. 4; fiche 6085770.)