How to trace ancestors who fought in the American Revolution
Were your relatives in America during the War of Independence?
If your family lived through the American Revolutionary War, there's likely to be an amazing story in your past that should be passed down generations. Findmypast has family records and resources that you can use to find those stories.
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This handy guide will delve into different ways to explore your Revolutionary ancestors on Findmypast. We'll show you the resources we have, some amazing things found in them, and how to use them to shape your family story.
Start with censuses
If you haven't traced your family tree as far back as the 1700s yet, you can make amazing progress and get back several generations using only US censuses. This census-by-census guide tells you everything you need to know and before you know it, you'll know the names of family members who lived around the American Revolution.
If you have located your family's household in the 1840 census, go to the digitized image of the original record on Findmypast and click the "next image" button. In some cases (assuming the page survived - not all did), you'll find a second page with some interesting details, and a listing of the names of all Revolutionary War pensioners in that household. We've gone one step further to make that search even easier by creating the 1840 United States Census, Revolutionary War Veterans record.
Explore military records
Even if you don't know for sure that an ancestor served, it's still worth searching Revolutionary War records to see if you find a candidate who could be a match. You may be able to confirm that they're a member of your family through details found in the records. Here are some of the highlights found on Findmypast:
These early 19th century records capture the story of each American who was granted a pension for service during the American Revolution. Among the 90,000-plus records, you can uncover details like rank, service state, and next of kin information. If the record includes original images (some have more than one), always check them for extra color and context. You will also find a small number of pensions granted for service during the Barbary and Indian wars.
The Periodical Source Index is an enormous collection of genealogy and history publications from local societies around the world. There are thousands of titles in this index, and many issues have digital images that make searching and viewing them online a breeze. Regardless of whether you use it to find war hero relatives, here's why PERSI is an essential family-tracing tool.
There are over 1,200 articles about the Revolutionary War on PERSI that you can view online today. Subjects range from first-hand accounts of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere to statistics on pensioners to abstracts of long-lost record sets. You'll also come across detailed descriptions of battles, regimental histories, indexes, extracts and transcripts of county-level records and stories of local men's service in the conflict.
Make sure you understand how to make the most of what PERSI has to offer. Our tips & tricks will help you succeed.
This collection includes dozens of publications that tell the story of the American War of Independence. Covering the thirteen colonies and beyond, you could discover your ancestor's amazing military past, their role in this pivotal conflict, and more.
You'll also find some local collections on Findmypast that can reveal the story of your family's role in the Revolutionary War. Try searching Alabama, Revolutionary War Soldiers, Pennsylvania, Revolutionary War Military Abstract Card File or Virginia, Revolutionary War Soldiers 1775-1783 if you have roots in those States.
Did your ancestor serve in the American Revolution? How has Findmypast helped shape those family stories? We'd love to hear what you've uncovered. Use #FindmypastFeatured on social media to be in with a chance of having your discoveries shared.