Family Tree Friday: Personal papers in compiled service records reveal important clues.

img017In my last blog post I explained how to decipher the information contained on a volunteer soldier’s compiled military service record envelope or “jacket.”  Those jackets also indicate whether or not the service record includes any personal papers.  Personal papers are individual documents such as an original enlistment paper, a casualty sheet, discharge certificate, or an inventory of personal effects.  War Department clerks filed these papers with their respective service records when the information in the document clearly pertained to one specific soldier. 

The example shown here is an inventory of personal effects from the compiled service record of Pvt. Robert Martindale, Co. B, 20th Connecticut Volunteers.  If you watched the recent TV program “Who Do You Think You Are?” you would have seen this document featured on the episode with Matthew Broderick.  Martindale was Broderick’s great-great-grandfather, and this document produced Matthew’s “wow” moment onscreen when it revealed that his ancestor died in the war from a “musket ball through the head.”  Personal papers in compiled military service records thus offer important details about a soldier’s experience that might not be documented elsewhere.

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4 Responses to Family Tree Friday: Personal papers in compiled service records reveal important clues.

  1. Jacqueline says:

    I came across a us army(all black)booklet about the all black 372nd infantry.It is dated 1944. The booklet is called On Guard. I would say it is a 9×12 original magazine or yearbook. In side it tells the history of the 372nd, companys A thru M, along with pictures of each man in each company. “words from the black commander, regimental history and colors”,regimental staff etc. Ihad no idea there were so many black doctors from howard university at that time. (2nd world war) Some articales date back to the 1930’s. Is this a valuable magazine, should I keep it? there are lots of names and pictures in excellent condition. What do I do with this?


    • John says:

      Hi Jacqueline,

      It sounds like you have an interesting find. I can’t speculate on the value, but if you are interested in vintage publications as well as the subject matter, then by all means hang onto the magazine. If not, I’m sure a local library might be interested in receiving it as a donation; or, as Ron suggests, the African American Military History Museum would be another good option. Either way, the choice is yours to make. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Ron says:

    If you have no luck here, contact the African American Military History Museum at:


  3. Judy says:

    Jacqueline have you found out any further information since Ron’s last post? If so, please let me know. Thanks – Judy


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