Records span 144 years and include those from the American Civil War and
the two World Wars
TORONTO, Nov. 10 /CNW/ - Over the course of two centuries, hundreds of thousands of Canadians have taken up arms with their U.S. neighbours by enlisting in the U.S. Forces, in battles including the Civil War and the two World Wars. Now, Ancestry.ca, Canada's leading family history website(1), honours those brave soldiers by providing free database access to 144 years of U.S. military records, from the 11th to the 13th of November.
The U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914; U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 and U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, collectively represent the registration and enlistment records for more than 193,000 Canadian-born men who fought bravely alongside their American comrades.
Whether it was to help friends and family against a common enemy, to seek adventure, to answer a moral calling or, in some cases, simply the pursuit of financial riches, there are many reasons why so many Canadians fought with the U.S. military over the years. Some reasons were noble, some misguided, and some purely selfish.
Many of the soldiers listed in these records were Canadian-born but children of one or more American parents. Others were born in Canada but lived in the United States at the time of enlistment. Either way, many may have felt duty-bound to serve in the armies of their parents' homes, or to defend their new homes.
For many, money was clearly a motivating factor in their enlistment. For example, during the Civil War, wealthy Americans who did not wish to serve in the Forces could hire substitutes to enlist on their behalf. In spite of the inherent danger, fighting in the war during this time could yield far greater riches than heavy labour and was, perhaps sadly, a preferred way of life for some.
Some of the soldiers joined in search of adventure, but many joined for moral reasons, be it to fight Nazi Germany or defend the Union and support the fight for the abolition of slavery. In fact, many of the United States Colored Regiments during the Civil War found their squadrons bolstered by black Canadians who enlisted for this very reason.
Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, Ancestry.ca, comments: "To fight against racism, fascism, to escape poverty or discover adventure - many reasons led brave Canadian men to join the U.S. Forces, which these records help bring to life.
"These records also remind us that no matter which side of the border Canadians fought on, they all made a sacrifice fighting for freedom and democracy and so should be remembered for their courage."
In addition to the Canadians listed in these collections, millions of Canadians with U.S. heritage will be able to find American ancestors within these records. The three collections combined capture the records of almost 32.5 million enlistees.
By the numbers:
U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
- This database is an indexed collection of the draft cards from the
Fourth Registration, the only registration currently available to the
public. It contains 7.1 million records, 93,844 of which are for
US World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
- Between 1917 and 1918, around 24 million men aged 18 to 45 in the
United States were required by law to register for war service. Of
these, 78,551 stated that they had been born in Canada.
U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914
- Canadian-born men account for 6,985 (nearly 5 per cent) of the total
of 148,844 records of registrants in the American Civil War who
enlisted between 1861 and 1865 - a significant percentage considering
that there was no official involvement by the government in the war.
The content will be available for free beginning Remembrance Day, November
11 through November 13 at www.ancestry.ca/remember.
Ancestry.ca has 125 million Canadian family history records in such collections as the complete Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1916, Ontario and British Columbia vital records from as early as 1813, Quebec Vital Records (The Drouin Collection), 1621-1957, Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, and U.S. / Canada Border Crossings, 1895 -1956.
Ancestry.ca was launched in January 2006 and belongs to the global network of Ancestry websites (wholly owned by Ancestry.com Operations Inc.), which contains four billion family history records. To date more than 11 million family trees have been created and over one billion names and 22 million photographs uploaded. 8.2 million unique visitors log on to an Ancestry website every month (comScore, June 2009).
The Ancestry global network of family history websites - www.ancestry.ca in Canada, www.ancestry.com in the US, www.ancestry.co.uk in the UK, www.ancestry.com.au in Australia, www.ancestry.de in Germany, www.ancestry.it in Italy, www.ancestry.fr in France, www.ancestry.se in Sweden and www.jiapu.com in China.
(1) comScore, October 2009
For further information: For further information: Patrick Erlich, Rachel Thexton, Media Profile, (416) 504-8464, (604) 609-6153, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org