The history of bureaucracy (now there's a fascinating topic for you) can probably best be traced by studying war. Military operations are huge undertakings, and have been for millennia. Armies need to keep records for logistics management, operational planning, awarding honors, and most importantly -- for the soldiers! -- to distribute pay.
Happily, for family researchers, many records from these military bureaucracies are finding their way online. We've covered many free Military Lookups here at Free Genealogy Tools, but there are always more coming to our attention.
ANZACS with pipes, during the Great War
Here are some of the latest that, due to their size or sheer interestingness, are well worth a look.
Australian ANZACS in the Great War, 1914-1918. These cover the Australian half of the WWI records of the Australian-New Zealand Army Corps Service (ANZACS), and include about 330,000 service records from the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).
Moving ahead a generation, Australia's Nominal Roll for WWII includes over a million service records.
Bet you never thought you'd find military records from Cuba online, but here they are! The Cuba Database of Officers of the Ten Years War 1868-1878 (several thousand records), and almost 70,000 records of the Cuban Liberation Army ('Mambi' Army) 1895-1898.
There are, sadly, millions of records in the German War Graves lookups. (Grabernachweis des Volksbundes). You can view the site more or less in English thanks to Google Translate.
Lastly, two pretty unusual finds for military medals and honors.
The Medals of Saint Helena (Les medailles de Sainte-Helene) include about 200,000 records awarded in 1857 by Napoleon III, to soldiers who served under Napoleon I, 1792-1815. Mostly French, but there are records from all over Europe as well.
The Polish Order of the Virtuti Militari and its Cavaliers 1792-1992, Poland's version of the Medal of Honor, includes 26,500 records. The site is free to search, but registration is required.
Visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools.
And don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchive.com. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.