As Americans celebrate Independence Day this week, perhaps now is the time to focus on finding more information about your ancestors who took part in the war that brought independence to this great nation. Luckily, there are numerous online resources to help you get started.
I would suggest that you first read an excellent introductory article, Finding Your Patriot: Basic Sources for Starting Revolutionary War Research by Curt Witcher. Curt is the department manager for the Historical Genealogy Department of Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is a well-known and respected genealogy researcher. His excellent article can be found at http://tinyurl.com/hvn8q.
James C. Neagles has written an excellent article on how to find Revolutionary War service records.. The article Compiled Service Records: Revolutionary War Period, 1775-83 can be found at http://tinyurl.com/z38nl
Revolutionary War Sources by Kip Sperry also contains many excellent references. You can find Kip's article at http://tinyurl.com/e8w8b
Perhaps the best online resource available anywhere is the Revolutionary War Era Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files available on HeritageQuest Online. These are some of the most popular records for those researching 18th and early 19th century ancestors. Best of all, these are not transcribed records. This database allows you to view the original, hand-written records on your screen and to print them on a local printer. HeritageQuest Online is not directly accessible by individuals. If you want to access these online records, you must use the services of a subscribing library or perhaps a genealogical or historical society or museum. You may have to travel to that society or library although some do offer remote, in-home access to these records. Further information is available on the Encyclopedia of Genealogy at http://www.eogen.com/HeritageQuestOnline.
Here are other articles and online resources worthy of note:
Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants by Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck: http://www.genealogy.com/24_land.html
Revolutionary War Military Records by Myra Vanderpool Gormley: http://www.genealogy.com/genealogy/24_myra.html
Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestor by Jaime Simmons focuses on Virginia and West Virginia resources but has excellent background information of interest to all: http://www.wvculture.org/hiStory/revwarbi.html
The Revolutionary War Forum is an online message board containing discussions about many topics associated with the War, including researching of ancestors: http://genforum.genealogy.com/americanrev/
American Revolutionary War Soldiers & Their Descendants is an online "clearinghouse:" web pages containing the email and/or URL addresses of descendants or persons who can give you some background on many Revolutionary War veterans: http://www.rootsweb.com/~ars
Loyalist Genealogy is a web site about those Americans who remained loyal to the King and then paid a high price for that loyalty: most were exiled to Canada or to other places outside of the new United States. Those who went to Canada are discussed at http://www.royalprovincial.com/genealogy/gen.shtml