Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Collection Highlight : Virgil White Books Essential to U.S. Military Research

With the addition of Index to Volunteer Soldiers in Indian Wars and Disturbances 1815-1858 (2 volumes), the Local History Collection rounds out its final acquisition of United States military records abstracts by Virgil D. White. 

Other titles already in the collection include:

  • Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files (4 volumes)
  • Index to Medal of Honor Recipients 1863-1978
  • Index to U.S. Military Pension Applications of Remarried Widows 1812-1911
  • Index to War of 1812 Pension Files (2 volumes)
  • Index to Old Wars Pension Files 1815-1926
  • Index to Volunteer Soldiers 1784-1811
  • Index to Pension Applications for Indian Wars Service Between 1817 and 1898
  • Index to Revolutionary War Service Records (4 volumes)
Each of these titles, published by the National Historical Publishing Company, consists of abstracts & indexes meticulously transcribed from records in the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA).  In the case of pension files, an entry typically will consist of:
  • name of person who provided service
  • NARA file number
  • branch & state of service
  • pension application date
  • age
  • spouse's name & death information
  • birth date and/or place
  • residences
  • death date and/or place
  • marriage date and/or place
  • list of children & birth
In many cases, there is additional information...usually enough so that you may deduce whether it is the person you seek, and to enable you to make a request to the NARA for a complete file copy.

To my knowledge, these books are not represented in any online environment, so be sure to seek them out in a genealogical collection near you.  Most of them are probably not attainable by inter-library loan, but I did note that a couple of them are available to Michigan libraries through MelCat.

I would recommend these books highly to any library looking for quality reference books for their genealogy collections.  They don't come cheap however...Index to Revolutionary War Service Records is $335.00 plus shipping for the four volumes.  In our case, we acquired them through a series of memorials for the following individuals:
  • Margaret (McCain) Mullin
  • Joanne (Briggs) Breed
  • Bernard Breed
  • Shirley (Schultz) Probst
We also have a Buy-A-Book program whereby Nina Consolatti of Paw Paw has purchased volumes for the collection.

From a research standpoint, these titles should be on your permanent checklist of sources for any U.S. family history.  Even if you believe that your individuals provided no military service, information that can be gleaned from these volumes pertaining to collateral lines can be invaluable.  And, who knows, perhaps you have yet to discover your ancestors' service.