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SVCGG Military Records Seminar - “Lest We Forget1

On Saturday, 9 November 2013 the the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group (SVCGG) held an all day seminar designed to help researchers make the most of the military records available to us. Accompanying the seminar, the SVCGG published a new U.S. Military Records Casebook, which is unlike any other tool for understanding military records.

Created for the SVCGG November 2013 seminar “Lest We Forget,” the casebook was modeled after social science and technical casebooks. It illustrates how to make sense of records from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. With page-by-page explanations of how to extract information from pension and other military files, it makes a potentially baffling task manageable. It is designed to be helpful regardless of whether the reader attended the seminar or not, it is intended to help researchers who were not able to attend the seminar, as well as compliment what was learned during the seminar.

The seminar casebook includes help such as the advice to not to expect pages of a pension file to be in chronological order can help immensely as we try to glean information from files now available for download from sites such as Fold3.com. In fact, Fold3.com generously allowed SVCGG to use images from their website as the basis of the casebook illustrations.

Explanations about the contents of pension files and service records came from SVCGG experts, with verification from staff at the National Archives at St. Louis.

The book is available for $15 from this SVCGG website and can also be purchased at SVCGG monthly meetings. To order the book use the the link below. Website payments are made through PayPal, which accepts all major credit and debit cards. Payment at SVCGG meetings can be made with cash, check, and all major credit and debit cards, including the new PayPal payment card.

The official U.S. Military Records Casebook syllabus is available for purchase here.

military guards at seminar

The seminar was held at the same location as the monthly SVCGG meetings, in Santa Clara, CA just off Homestead Road, between Lawrence Expressway and San Thomas Expressway:

875 Quince Avenue
Santa Clara, California 95051

Keynote Speaker - Bryan McGraw, director, National Archives at St. Louis (National Personnel Records Center [NPRC]).

Mr. McGraw addressed the historical and genealogical value of military records, as well as the status of the long-elusive World War I and II records, many of which were damaged by fire and water. An extensive and ambitious project is underway at the St. Louis facility to restore millions of military records damaged by fire and water in a 1973 fire. As this restoration continues, family historians are able to access some of these more recent records, which can provide information about the military service of parents and grandparents of current generations.

Research Tool Instruction - Kathy Burrow, Fold3.com

A California genealogist, Ms. Burrow provided instruction in using Fold3.com, a popular records site owned by Ancestry.com. Records included at the seminar will be early Indian wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Korean War, and Vietnam War, in addition to World Wars I and II.


Speaker Biographies

Bryan McGraw

Bryan McGrawMr. McGraw is the director of archives for the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Mo., a large component of the National Archives and Records Administration. He heads up the largest archive in the United States outside of the greater Washington, D.C., area. He manages the archival program for the military, genealogy and family history records of the United States. The NPRC archives maintain custody of more than 500,000 cubic feet of records, most of which are personnel records of former members of the U.S. military. This collection is expected to grow to more than 1.5 million cubic feet by the latter half of the century. He oversaw the funding, construction and move of the NPRC to the new storage facilities outside Saint Louis.

Mr. McGraw graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in geography and minor in aerospace studies. He earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and has completed Ph.D. work in public policy at Saint Louis University. He was also a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC and received a regular appointment in the United States Air Force upon graduating. He served nearly eight years on active duty as a commissioned officer in the Air Force, followed by six years in the Air Force Reserve. He has also served as director of quality for Deutsche Financial Services in St. Louis and director of quality and process improvement for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Indianapolis, among other positions.

Addtional background information

Military records at the National Archives and the National Personnel Records Center


Kathy Burrow

Kathy BurrowMs. Burrow has over 40 years experience in genealogical research ; specializing in Southern, and Mid Western States, Data Entry, and community genealogy classes. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Oakhurst Family History Center (FHC) and has vast experience speaking for genealogical societies and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Regional Workshops throughout California. She has served as past editor of the Ash Tree Echo for the Fresno Genealogical Society and as a FHC Director.

Web presence

Press Coverage

Recent Classes: June 2013    Sept 2011


Purchase the seminar casebook syllabus here!

1 - Rudyard Kipling, "Recessional"