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American History & Jewish History Blog
Vonnie Zullo’s childhood home, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
March 10, 2022

Meet Vonnie Zullo, Professional Historical Document Researcher

Vonnie Zullo has been a professional historical document researcher at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Library of Congress (LOC), Smithsonian Libraries, and other DC institutions for over 30 years. In addition to working with the Shapell Roster team, other clients she has worked with include historians at national parks and battlefields, universities, and historical societies; nationally and internationally known authors; national and public TV and radio stations including the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?; nationally known auction houses; collectors and dealers of military artifacts and Americana, and family genealogists.  

Vonnie’s family owns a Civil War artifact store in Gettysburg, The Horse Soldier, and she runs the research department of the business. Vonnie was born in Gettysburg, and raised on the battlefield not far from Pickett’s Charge and Devil’s Den. 

We asked Vonnie about herself and her work with the Shapell Roster. This is part of a series of interviews with the Shapell Roster research team. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I’ve been a researcher my entire career, but before I moved to the DC area, I was a Marine Biologist for the Virgin Islands National Park for eight years. NPS research and resource management projects included coral reef and fisheries management, marine and terrestrial baseline studies, and sea turtle nesting. My passion will always be tropical marine biology. 

What is your current role with the Roster Project?

I am the onsite researcher at NARA who searches the Compiled Military Service Records (CMSRs) and pension files of soldiers in the database who have not been previously researched or who need additional work. While NARA has been closed as a result of the Covid pandemic, I’ve done online genealogical research on Union and Confederate Army officers and enlisted men, and U.S. Navy sailors in the database, and I’ve searched for new soldiers to add to the database.

What are some of the rewards of your work?

Some of the rewards of the work are being my own boss, having a variety of clients and projects to work on, and being successful in my endeavors. It feels great when I find a historical document that puts together all the pieces of the puzzle to solve the objective of the research.  Whether it’s a genealogical link to a soldier and his family, or the content of a historical document that explains the narrative, I often feel like a detective while working on projects. 

What are some of the challenges of your work?

Some of the challenges are being my own boss and having my own business.  There’s always work to do – it never ends and takes long hours to build the business.

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