As my blog followers know, I have been rather lax at keeping my posts even close to up to date. I could give those logical excuses: Lots of writing obligations with stringent deadlines, I had to renew my Certification (BCG - and it was renewed), I have taken on the responsibilities of Director of the Corona Family History Center, I have been elected as an incoming member of the Board of Directors for APG (Assoc. of Professional Genealogists), etc., but that won't explain this latest delay.
I was working on the microfilm reviews regarding military tombstones (see earlier blog post) and I received a very interesting email from my friend and colleague, Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL of Melchiori Research Services, L.L.C. Marie sent me the links to three websites (a couple of these links are brand new - or they were when she emailed me last month!) and it took me until today to visit them (see paragraph above for reasons for that delay, please forgive me, Marie).
In examining the materials at these websites, it seems especially necessary for me to pass along the information to anyone in my reading audience; a quick check of these may eliminate a lot of unnecessary busy work, only to get you to an on-line source for NARA microfilm information you are seeking.
Microfilm Publications and Original Records Digitized by Our Digitization Partners.
This links you directly to the NARA website where it lists the micropublications that appear elsewhere on the Internet in digital form. For example, were I to wish information on some of the military headstone card records (series M1845), I can look on this page to discover that the publication is on-line at Ancestry.com. Clicking the link for the series takes me directly to Ancestry and, if I am doing this at the National Archives, it will bring up the site for NARA's institutional subscription to Ancestry (very convenient for those who do not subscribe to this database). Material from the Information Publication, along with options to search or browse the collection are provided.
Why examine the collection? Headstone cards in this series (covering 1879-1903) include the military unit, cemetery name and location, and date of death associated with the veteran. If you suspect an ancestor served in the military and may be buried with a military headstone to mark the grave (placed at time of burial or later), it may give additional information to lead you to his/her military records.
A similar experience occurs when you use that NARA database to locate a film series that is posted on Fold3 - you are directed to the Fold3 site (if at a National Archives, it will direct you to the institution's subscription site), but the search may be more general (instead of listing just the collection you have selected, it may give you a broader search of all related records).
You may also find it helpful to search just the specific website (Ancestry.com or Fold3) instead of doing it through the NARA site. For Ancestry's "Records from the National Archives" searchable collection, go directly to http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/nara.aspx. For Fold3's "NARA Titles Available on Fold3" index (with links to the respective images), go to http://www.fold3.com/page/285692818_nara_titles_available_on_fold3/. In both cases, a full Table of Contents is provided with the listings given in Film Series numerical order. If you prefer to search by series title, you need to use the listing from the NARA website.
On the NARA website (see link above), you have the option of re-sorting the contents by Film Series titles (alphabetically - Click "NARA Film Titles" once for descending - A through Z - and a second time for ascending - Z through A), film numbers (starting with Film Series "A", then "M," then "T"; or backwards - click heading a second time - for T, M, A order), "Partners" (Ancestry and Fold3 - though one still lists the latter as "Footnote"; that will probably be updated soon), and Record Group (e.g., the Record Group I have been discussing is 92, dealing with military deaths, not necessarily during service, however). In this last option, you can also create an ascending or descending list, as preferred, just by clicking the heading.
Suggestion: check on the NARA list first before taking time searching Series-by-Series on the other two sites. It's just a little more efficient.
So there are some ways to locate the elusive veteran ancestor (among other NARA records). If yours was honorably discharged but did not get a government-issued tombstone or memorial marker, consider making that a good New Year's resolution. As we approach Veterans Day 2011 (11-11-11), it's a good time to look into the particulars. Military.com provides links to the forms and other pertinent information to accomplish this.
Finally, let us take some time to make this Veteran's Day a meaningful one. We spend so much time to decorate and create an atmostphere to make Hallowe'en and other secular holidays fun and memorable, but so little to connect to veterans (both gone and still living) and our service personnel on duty today . . . let 11-11-11 be the year to change that!
Thank you, Marie, for your help in getting me up to snuff on the particulars of these links. It is greatly appreciated.