Unique Archives for Your Military Ancestors

Finding unique military records in Pennsylvania for genealogy and family history at Gettysburg and Valley Forge.

Unique Archives for Your Military Ancestors
Photo by John Kostyk / Unsplash

Several battles of the Revolutionary War and one of the Civil War took place in Pennsylvania. If you had ancestors who participated in those wars, you want to look into searching the archives located at Pennsylvania historical sites. Here’s two sites and links to what they have.

Valley Forge Historical Park

Valley Forge is the site of soldiers’ fight to stay alive during the winter of 1777–1778. It was one of the low points in the Revolutionary War. To mark the experience, replica log cabins were rebuilt for the Bicentennial in 1976. The redoubts, built in case of battle, remain. If you had an ancestor who lived through this event, you can easily imagine it through park ranger tours.

Valley Forge National Park is also the home to its own library and archives. Over 5,000 books and materials about the encampment are available, along with personal objects of the soldiers. Go here to view finding aids.

From home you can read history of the park written when the park went from PA state park to national park status here.

Gettysburg National Military Park

The Battle of Gettysburg is often called the turning point of the Civil War. It was the deadliest battle of the war and the site of President Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg Address. The anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is July 1st-3rd and annual events commemorate it.

On site in the Research Center are collections of soldiers’ remembrances of the battle, organized by unit. If you had an ancestor involved in this massive event, could be a unique record here. Check out the finding aids and details here and here.

Visting a historical site gives us a tangible understanding offer ancestor’s life. It is also a possible opportunity to view documents they created, in whole or part. Pennsylvania has many more historical sites which you can find here. One never knows what is in an archive unless we take the time go look and see what they reveal!