Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Summit of Excellence Track Highlight: Military Records

The UGA Summit of Excellence has officially opened for registration. This exciting conference, held virtually September 15-18, 2021, is a four-day event with multiple tracks that offers a premier educational opportunity. Each track features a different record set or research area such as legal records, methodology, technology, or DNA.

Let's take a deep dive into one of these exciting tracks: military records. Military records are an exciting area of genealogy rich in both vital data and enriching stories. From draft and service records to pension and land, the types of records available from our military are vast and varied. It is hard to know what you will find in these amazing documents.

Because military records can be such a rich and important tool for a genealogist, it is exciting to be able to listen to these engaging experts.

Here is even more detail on each of these classes:

Records of Military Service from the Colonial Era to Vietnam with Michael Strauss, AG

Vital to any military ancestor is their service records, which define when an individual was mustered in and out of service. This lecture examines records from the colonial era to Vietnam.

Michael L. Strauss, AG®, is a professional Accredited Genealogist® and a nationally recognized speaker. A native of Pennsylvania and a resident of Utah, he has been employed as a Forensic Investigator for nearly 30 years. Strauss has a BA in History and is a United States Coast Guard veteran. He is a qualified expert witness in the courts in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and is a faculty member at SLIG, GRIP, and IGHR where he is the Military Course Coordinator. Additionally, he is involved with both Civil War and Mexican War reenacting for more than 25 years.

The Smoking Bullet: Military Pension Records - Revolution through Civil War with Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, CGL

The term "smoking gun" is a metaphor for an object that serves as conclusive evidence. Rarely in genealogy do we find a single document or file that lists an ancestor's birth, marriage, and death, but that is exactly what we may find in military pension records. This lecture will discuss how to dissect and understand pension records in their historical context, compared to pension laws, and the conflicts they served, pension records served to identify whole families and even communities in many instances.

Rebecca Whitman Koford holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist® and as a Certified Genealogical Lecturer. Her focuses are Maryland and military records at the National Archives, especially those of the War of 1812. Rebecca has been taking clients and lecturing since 2004. She has spoken for the National Genealogical Society Conference (NGS), Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (FGS), Association of Professional Genealogists Conference (APG), RootsTech, webinars for Legacy and APG, and the Maryland State Archives. She has published articles in the NGS Magazine, APG Magazine, SAR Magazine, and the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal. Rebecca is also the Course I coordinator for The Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) and has been an instructor at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburg (GRIP) and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). She is a graduate and former mentor of the ProGen Study Group, an online peer-led study program based on the book Professional Genealogy by Elizabeth Shown Mills; and served as the ProGen Administrator from 2015–2020. Rebecca currently works as Executive Director of the Board for Certification of Genealogists® and as Director of the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed) held annually at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Bounty Land Records - As good as a pension! with Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA

Bounty lands were awarded by the federal government from 1788 to 1855 to encourage and reward service in the military. Nine individual states (Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Caroline, and Virginia) also award land as part of Revolutionary War compensation, Eligibility for military bounty lands varied by the criteria in the authorizing legislative act. The award of bounty lands did, in fact, motivate some veterans to move west. The effect was considerably diluted because many individuals sold or assigned their bounty land warrants. often these warrants were purchased by land speculators. Regardless, the applications for bounty land are often as available as pensions as it relates to funding kinship information. Also, Many more veterans were eligible for bounty land benefits as opposed to pensions. The presentation will cover the application process, the location of records, and the best way to access the records. the expected kinship information will be identified. Also, related records such as the land entry file will be described.

Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, a retired colonel who served 31 years in the U.S. Army, is a long-time researcher and instructor in genealogical topics. Rick is the current secretary and immediate past president of BCG. He coordinates the Advanced Land course and the Using Maps in Genealogy course offered by the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), and he instructs in several other courses at SLIG. Rick co-coordinates with Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL, the Law School for Genealogists course at Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) and the Family History Law Library course at SLIG. He also lectures at national conferences and presents nationwide seminars. His areas of expertise encompass records of the National Archives, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, including military records, land records, using maps in genealogy, urban research, and government documents. Rick specializes in the localities of western Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The Draft and Selective Service System with Michael Strauss, AG

Draft records are invaluable to genealogists as they provide documentary evidence of men of eligible military age who served during periods of war. These records also account for men required to fill out the registration forms, but who might not have been mustered into service. The first national conscription passed by Congress was in 1863. Since then, congressional legislation through the passage of several Selective Service Acts in 1917, 1940, 1948, and 1967 have accounted for men who would have served between the Civil War and the Vietnam War. Also, the class will examine the draft that affected the Confederates during the Civil War between 1862-1865.

see full bio above.

Learn more about the conference at or register to attend the UGA Summit of Excellence at