Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Military service refers to the service of an individual in the armed services of his or her country, whether the result of voluntary enlistment or involuntary draft (conscription). Accounts of battle have been recorded since ancient times. In the U.S., military service records date back to the Revolutionary War. The study of a country's military history should indicate its record keeping practices and the availability of records.
The knowledge of an ancestor's military service is important to genealogists, as considerable information of genealogical interest may be contained in service records, in addition to information of when he or she served, where and under what circumstances. In the United States, military service records are maintained by the National Archives in Washington D.C. Some types of military service records are held at the state rather than federal level. Other countries service records are similarly archived. Many military service records have been digitized and are now available online.