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Military Records

4 Posts authored by: Jason Atkinson Expert

On August 9, 2019 the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) entered into an agreement to digitize the Vietnam-era US Navy and Coast Guard deck logs from 1956 through 1978. On 28 September 2020, the VA announced the completion of the digitization of declassified Vietnam era deck logs. The project generated an estimated 23.5 million images. All of these images will be retained by both NARA and the VA. Data contained in the digitized images is already being used by the VA to assist veterans in resolving claims.

 

Although the scanning is complete, the work is not finished for NARA. We are still receiving images and prepping them for upload to the National Archives Catalog. Since April, NARA has added over 5.4 million Navy deck log images to the National Archives Catalog. More will be uploaded in the coming weeks and months.

 

We are unable to provide specific details, estimations, or time tables on when any particular ship's logs will be made available on our online Catalog. We also cannot expedite the processing of any specific log. Deck Logs after 1970 will take longer to add to the National Archives Catalog because the digital images must first be reviewed line-by-line for information protected under the Privacy Act of 1974.

 

At this time, no Coast Guard deck logs have been uploaded to the National Archives Catalog.

 

Some of the Navy deck logs already available using the Catalog are listed on the web page Navy Deck Logs Available in the National Archives Catalog. This list is arranged by name of ship and thereunder by year. Clicking on the hyperlinked year will take you to the digitized deck logs for that ship and year.

 

Other Navy logs are available in the Catalog, but are not listed yet on that web page. To locate these logs, go to the Catalog description for Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941 - 1983 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) (National Archives Identifier 594258). Click  on the blue “Search within this series” button.  In the menu that comes up, type in the name of the ship into the upper left hand search field, without using “USS” as a prefix. You may wish to include the hull number as well, especially if there were multiple ships with the same name. After you typed in the name, click on the magnifying glass search button. This should link you to the deck logs for the ship.  Please note that the Catalog does not always list files in chronological order. To see a specific log, click on the title.

 

 

When viewing logs for each month, you may have the option to click on a PDF icon under the “Documents” heading. This will allow you to view the entire month’s logs as a single file. Once you have done so, you may use the blue download button to download the PDF.  Due to the size of the files involved, it may take a little while for them to download in full. Please be patient.  If the files do not download to your PC, please email Catalog@nara.gov.

 

  

Under normal circumstances, you or your representative could view Navy deck logs, to include post-1971 deck logs, in the Textual Research Room (Room 2000) at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. You could also hire a researcher to conduct research on your behalf. However, visiting is not an option at this time. All National Archives research rooms have been closed since at the end of business on March 13, 2020 as a public health precaution due to COVID-19. For updates on the status of research rooms, please visit https://www.archives.gov/coronavirus.

 

Questions about Navy deck logs may be asked here on History Hub or emailed to the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at Archives2reference@nara.gov. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

Introduction

The records below are the main series used for documenting military service in the US Army prior to the time period just before World War I. Questions about the records listed in this blog as well as other pre-World War I Army and War Department records may be directed to the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at Archives1reference@nara.gov or posted on History Hub in the Military Records community.

 

Depending on the time period and individual circumstances, soldiers also may be documented in other types of records such as land grant files, pension files, medical files, casualty records, Military Academy records, prisoner lists, and unit records that are not listed in this blog.

 

For enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and for officers of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after June 1917, there may be an Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs are not included in this blog. For more information about these records, see About Military Service Records and Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs, DD Form 214).

 

Any surviving records of pre-Revolutionary War service in colonial militias as well as service in state militias and National Guard units that were not called up for federal service may be in state archives. State archives may have additional records documenting the service of soldiers in state volunteer units that are also documented in records at the National Archives. The nature and availability of state military service records varies greatly from state to state.

 

Compiled Military Service Records

Compiled military service records (CMSRs) did not originate during the wars they document, but were compiled by the War Department beginning in the 1890s to produce a centralized record of enlisted men and officers whose military service was performed during an emergency and whose service was considered to be in the federal interest. CMSRs were created for the Continental Army and many Revolutionary War-era state units, as well as volunteer forces from the post-Revolutionary period through the Philippines Insurrection. CMSRs were not constructed for officers and enlisted personnel of the Regular Army.

 

Compiled service records consist of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. The exact information included varies from war to war and from individual to individual. They typically provide age at enlistment, rank, unit, date mustered in and mustered out, and basic military information. They may list a person's place of birth, where they enlisted, and a basic physical description. They sometimes note when a person was sick, absent, or deserted. If a person died while in service, that will be noted. The CMSR may contain an internal jacket for so-called “personal papers” of various kinds. These may include a copy of the soldier's enlistment paper, papers relating to his capture and release as a prisoner of war, or a statement that he had no personal property with him when he died.

 

NOTE: The CMSR does not identify parents or next-of-kin, and rarely indicates battles in which a soldier fought. Family information, where it is documented, is more likely to be in pension records.

 

Revolutionary War (1775 - 1784)

See The American Revolution: Research our Records for more information.

 

Service Records: Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records (Record Group 93)


Index: Indexes to Revolutionary War Compiled Military Service Records in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records (Record Group 93)


Post-Revolutionary Period (1784-1811)

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Units During the Post-Revolutionary War Period in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Post-Revolutionary War Period in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


War of 1812 (1812-1815)

See War of 1812 Resources in NARA for more information.

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the War of 1812 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the War of 1812 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Indian Wars (ca. 1815 - 1858)

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Indian Wars in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Indian Wars in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Mexican American War (1846 - 1848)See Mexican War: Search Records Online and Other Resources for more information.
Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Mexican War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Mexican War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Civil War (1861 - 1866)

Only Union records are listed in this blog. See Civil War for more information.

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the American Civil War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94) [includes Veteran Reserve Corps and U.S. Colored Troops as well as state volunteer units]


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Civil War, 1899 - 1927 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


See Also
Carded Records Relating to Civil War Staff Officers in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: Not all records have been digitized
    • National Archives Catalog - Only a single record has been digitized and is available through the Catalog.


General Orders Announcing Brevet Rank Appointments of Volunteer Officers, 1861 - 1868 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Generals' Reports of Service, 1864 - 1872 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Letters Received, 1863 - 1894 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94): This series contains letters, reports, and related papers concerning the recruiting, organization and service of organizations in the U.S. Colored Troops, their officers, and servicemen. These records are in addition to the USCT records in the Carded Records series listed above.

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: Not all records have been digitized
    • National Archives Catalog - 15 documents have been digitized and are available through the Catalog.


The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) is a database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Other information on the site includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records, which will be amended over time. The CWSS is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and several public and private partners.

 

Spanish American War (1898-1898) and Philippine Insurrection (1899-1903)

See Spanish American War and Philippine Insurrection for more information.

 

Spanish American War

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Spanish American War and Philippine Insurrection

 

Service Records: Carded Records Relating to Staff Officers of Volunteers in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, 1899 - 1927 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Philippine Insurrection

 

Service Records: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Philippine Insurrection in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: Most records have not been digitized. As of August 2020, only a single record has been digitized and made available through the National Archives Catalog. No digitized records are available from digitization partner websites.


Philippine Insurrection Index: Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Philippine Insurrection in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Philippine Insurrection Service Records (Puerto Rico): Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Served in the Puerto Rican Regiment of U.S. Volunteers During the Philippine Insurrection in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


Regular Army (1798 - ca. 1917)

 

Officers

 

Pre-1863: There are no consolidated service records for Regular Army officers before 1863. One may examine the various correspondence series of the Adjutant General's Office in Record Group 94 and other military records for documentation relating to these officers.

 

1863 - 1917: Letters Received, 1863 - 1917 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94) in additional to recording relating to officers of the Regular Army, these records also includes files for officers of Volunteers in the Staff Corps commissioned by the President, and officers commissioned by brevet appointment in the Regular Army and Volunteer organizations.


See also: Statements of the Foreign Service of U.S. Army Officers, 1914 - 1915

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online: This series has not been digitized.


1789-1969: Regular Army Officers are listed in the Official Army Register which is available through Fold3 as Army Registers, 1798-1969. Some editions are available free on HathiTrust.

 

Enlisted

 

1798 - 1912: Enlistment Papers, 1798 - October 31, 1912 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)

  • Microfilm Publication: This series has not been microfilmed.
  • Digitized Records Available Online:
    • National Archives Catalog - Only 2 records have been digitized.


1798 - 1914: Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798 - 1914 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94)


Accessing Pre-World War I Army Service Records

 

National Archives Catalog
Many of the records listed above may be viewed using the National Archives Catalog. If you require assistance locating a particular file, you may ask about it on History Hub or email RDT1. If the Catalog is not working for you, please email Catalog@nara.gov.

 

In-Person Research
All of the records listed above as well as all the microfilm publications are located at the National Archives in Washington, DC. For some records, researchers may access the original papers. For other records, researchers must use the microfilm or the digital images of the records rather than the originals.

 

Some microfilm publications are available in one or more of our regional facilities in addition to the DC facility. You may use the Microfilm Catalog to look up information about additional microfilm publications, to include a list of locations where they are available.

 

Please be advised that as of August 2020, all NARA locations remain closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Archives will decide when to begin reopening our facilities based on guidance from the Federal Government, including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). We are working diligently on our plans for the gradual reopening of our facilities across the country.

 

Please check NARA website for the latest information before planning a trip to a NARA facility. We also recommend that you email the staff at the location you are visiting prior to planning your trip.

 

Ordering Copies of Pre-World War I Service Records
To order copies of service records (except for OMPFs) not already available in the National Archives Catalog, please fill out a NATF Form 86 for the service records and mail the completed form to the address listed on the form. For more information see Requesting Copies of Older (pre-WWI) Military Service Records. There is a reproduction fee for this service.

 

Please note that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has suspended reproduction and digitization services until further notice due to COVID-19. Orders will not be serviced until operations can resume safely. NARA has also temporarily suspended the option for placing online orders using eservices.archives.gov. Once operations resume, document reproduction requests will be filled in the order in which they were received. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

Accessing Records on Digitization Partner Websites
FamilySearch may be accessed with a free account. Ancestry and Fold3 both have options for free accounts, however most data collections on these websites are behind a paywall. The National Archives provides free access to AncestryInstitution and Fold3 at all NARA locations. As mentioned above, all NARA locations remain closed to the public due to COVID-19. Many public and university libraries also provide access to these websites to their patrons.

 

Over time, many of the digitized records currently only available on partner websites will be uploaded into the National Archives Catalog and made available to all for free.

Links for Additional Information about Pre-World War I Service Records

The bulk of the records relating to individual regiments of the U.S. Army are in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1917 (Record Group 94).  Some of these major series include:


National Archives Preliminary Inventory 17: Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Adjutant General's Office by Lucille H. Pendell and Elizabeth Bethel is available on the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center website.

 

The National Archives also has 724 series related to various regiments in the Records of U.S. Regular Army Mobile Units (Record Group 391) and 290 series in the Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands (Record Group 393).

 

Records pertaining to Confederate units are in the War Department Collection of Confederate Records (Record Group 109).  Some of the series that contain records pertaining to specific units include:


Depending on the unit, there may be additional information in various other series. Please note that because of the circumstances of the war, not all Confederate records survived the conflict and not all of those that did came into federal custody.

Preliminary Inventory 101: Preliminary Inventory of the War Department Collection of Confederate Records (Record Group 109) by Elizabeth Bethel  is available on the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center website.

 

Researchers may email the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at archives1reference@nara.gov or post inquiries here at History Hub to request more information about the various records in NARA custody relating to Civil War units.  Please be as specific as possible about which units you are researching and what type(s) of information you are seeking.

 

The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) is a database containing information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Other information on the site includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles, and selected lists of prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records, which will be amended over time. The CWSS is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and several public and private partners whose goal is to increase Americans' understanding of this decisive era in American history by making information about it widely accessible.

 

For both Union and Confederate volunteer units raised by states, there may be additional information in the custody of the relevant state archives and state libraries. Also, the staff of some Civil War related museums and U.S. state historical societies and museums may be able to assist you with your research.

 

Many histories have been published about various Civil War units, ranging from books written soon after the war by veterans of the units to works by recent authors. We suggest searching libraries (to include the Library of Congress) retailers, and online sites such as Google Books, the Internet Archive, and HathiTrustWorldCat and Social Networks and Archival Context can sometimes be used to locate institutions with relevant books and manuscript collections. 

 

For additional resources and research advice, please see: