This recently reported by intrepid genealogy blogger Dick Eastman: The American Legion digital archives has added the full run of their monthly newspaper The National Legionnaire, which ran from about January 1935 November 1948. The part about this announcement that surprised me was, who knew The American Legion had a digital archives? Well, they do, and the American Legion Digital Archive is worth a look.
If you have any ancestors who served in the armed forces, particularly if they were officers in the American Legion organization, you will want to take a look at this database, especially the Magazines, Newsletters and Bulletins collection. Anyone who served in the armed forces was eligible to join the American Legion and may have been written about in their publications. You will find notices of reunions of men who served on the same ship or in the same unit, which can be helpful for making contacts with people who may have known your ancestor. You may find a brief “Post note” about an activity your ancestor’s post (and perhaps your ancestor) took part in. Servicemen’s names are listed when they gain a life membership, which will locate them in a time and place for further research.
Perhaps surprisingly, non-military folk show up in these publications as well. I found an article about a young girl who won an oratory contest sposored by the local American Legion post in Freeport, Long Island. So try searching on any ancestor’s name.
A few more searching tips: You can search by name, town, or post number, or a combination of these terms. Make sure to use quotations around phrases and try different combinations for different results. Search results are displayed as an entire publication in PDF format, which is not searchable. When you download a publication, make sure to open it in Adobe Reader, which has a good search feature so you can find the term you searched on.
When it comes to searching for our military (and non-military) ancestors, we must use any sources available. The American Legion Digital Archive is another great tool to put in your toolbox.