New WWI Records on FamilySearch for Armistice 100th Anniversary

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (7 November 2018)— On Veterans Day 2018, the world will look back a century to the victory of Allied forces and the signing of the Armistice that marked the end of World War I. With that signing, on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” 1918, the world rejoiced. In memory of those who served, FamilySearch has added millions of new, free historical records to help families discover more about their WWI veteran ancestors. Search the WWI collections at

In many allied nations, Armistice Day is a national holiday coinciding with Veterans Day and Remembrance Day to celebrate the endings of both World War I and World War II. In the warring nations of World War I, millions registered for war and millions served. Twenty-one million were wounded and 20 million died.

As countries pause to remember, families seek to document their ancestors’ war-time stories. The stories from WWI are no longer first-person memories, but they do exist on documents, in pictures, and as memorabilia. The era’s records supply rich ancestral details including physical characteristics, vital information, service details and more.

FamilySearch has a large, constantly expanding, free collection of World War I records to help remember World War I soldiers. Governments on both sides of the conflict, Allied nations (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia, and Italy) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire) created a treasure trove of documents useful to genealogists.

Some records are unexpected today. For example, American women married to non-American men lost citizenship. Many created citizenship papers to be re-naturalized. Nearly everyone who had a male ancestor aged 21-30 that lived in the U.S. during WWI can find a record of that ancestor.

Jennifer Davis, a family historian, found all four of her great-grandfathers in the WWI Draft Records online—even though none of them served active duty. “The only picture I have of my great-grandpa Figgins is in black and white from a copy of a newspaper clipping,” said Davis. “In his draft record, it gives a physical description of him and says his eyes are brown. That’s a cool discovery, because I never would have known his eye color.”

The draft records can be the perfect springboard to searching other records, because they often give hints about the registered individual, such as clues to family members listed in the “closest living relative” section or employment clues.

Among World War I records are draft cards, cemetery records, and statement of service cards. The armed services kept military records that name the names and describe the work of those who served in any capacity.


About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.


One very interesting group of WWI records involves the YMCA. At that time, the armed forces had not yet developed the specialized services they now have in order to provide things like the post exchanges, servicemen’s clubs, books, newspapers, entertainment, and other support services to the troops in the field. During WWI these kinds of services were organized and fulfilled by the YMCA, which sent hundreds of workers overseas to support our troops as they were fighting on the front lines.

Also, check the immigration records to see if you can find your relatives who served in WWI returning home from Britain and France. Whole shiploads of servicemen and support workers were recorded at Ellis Island at the end of both WWI and WWII. I found my father, his brother and several of their friends and neighbors from the old neighborhood where they grew up. I especially remember one of them, a boy whose parents brought him to the US from Italy when he was still a very little boy. The father started out as a manual laborer, but became a tailor. The family spoke only Italian until the children started school. Two of the boys grew up to become a doctor and a lawyer. Their sister became a schoolteacher. Both the boys were drafted in WWII, and served in Italy, where their fluent Italian turned out to be of tremendous value to the US Army. Seeing the doctor.’s name recorded at Ellis Island among the members of a medical unit being repatriated at the end of the war, made me wonder how many American soldiers owed their lives to the little immigrant boy who got off the boat with a mother and father fleeing poverty all those years ago. Would anyone looking at him then have ever dreamed of what he wiould become and what this one family would give back to the country that adopted them? Even in hindsight, with the evidence of how it all turned out staring me in the face, such a thing was still difficult to imagine. What goes around, comes around.


Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: