Research: Military

War Service Records and Searches

New York State Archives Information Leaflet #4

Military Service Records in New York State Archives. Military records in the New York State Archives document the service of many (but not all) individuals who served in the State's armed forces during conflicts prior to World War II. The records contain summary data on military service, usually taking the form of financial claims, cards, registers, or one-page abstracts. The Archives holds no military case files (service, pension, or bounty land warrant) like those created by the Federal government.

Access to Military Records. Military records in the State Archives are available to the public in the Archives' research room on the 11th floor of the Cultural Education Center in downtown Albany 9-5, Mon.-Fri., except state holidays. If records are available on microfilm, use of the original records is restricted. Selected military service records are available for free to New Yorkers at Ancestry.com New York.

Information about Military Records. Record series in the State Archives are searchable through Excelsior, the online catalog of the New York State Archives. Researchers may also search a database of New York soldiers who served in the Civil War, by name or by regiment. Detailed published guides describe records of New York's participation in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War I, and records of the State War Council during World War II. Visit the Guides to Historical Records section of the Publications area to obtain a PDF or print copy of these publications.

War Service Searches. The New York State Archives will search selected major record series for documents relating to the war service of a named individual. The Archives searches only those record series that are accessible by name and comprehensive in their coverage. The amount of data on an individual's service varies according to the war. You can request a war service search by printing out and mailing a War Service Records Request Form. You must send one form for each name to be searched. For each search request you must enclose a separate check or money order for the appropriate amount. (See below, Charges for Copies.)

Following are the types of searches available and the respective record series searched:

Colonial Wars. No searches conducted. Records of the colonial militia were destroyed in the 1911 Capitol fire. Colonial muster rolls are published in Annual Report of the State Historian, 1895-96 (Albany: 1896-97) and Collections of the New-York Historical Society for 1891 (New York: 1892).

Revolutionary War. Will search Military Patents (record series A0447) for bounty land grants to New York officers and soldiers who served in the Continental Line; and the related Applications for Land Grants (A0272), which are indexed and abstracted in Calendar of N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts Indorsed Land Papers, 1643-1803 (Albany: 1864; repr. 1987). Archives will not search for records of individuals who served in the New York militia. Records relating to Revolutionary War militia service were damaged or destroyed in the 1911 Capitol fire, but they were abstracted and indexed in New York in the Revolution as Colony and State, 3d ed., 2 vols. (Albany: 1904). Many documents relating to Revolutionary War officers and enlisted men from New York are published in Calendar of Historical Manuscripts, Relating to the War of the Revolution, 2 vols. (Albany: 1868); Berthold Fernow, ed., New York in the Revolution (Albany: 1887); and Collections of the New-York Historical Society, 48 (1915), 338-511.

War of 1812. Will search War of 1812 Abstracts of Payrolls for N.Y. State Militia (B0810) and Certificates of Claims (A0020, A3352). The certificates are indexed in Index of Awards on Claims of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 (Albany: 1860; repr. 1969). (A veteran's claim stated war service in order to obtain reimbursement for clothing, arms, and equipment furnished at the soldier's expense.)

Civil War. Will search Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts of N.Y. State Volunteers, U.S. Sharpshooters, and U.S. Colored Troops (13775) and similar abstracts for U.S. Navy, Marines Corps, and N.Y. National Guard. Summary data on officers and enlisted men who served in New York State units is available in Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York; Registers of New York Regiments in the War of the Rebellion, 43 vols. (Albany: 1894-1906); and Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of New York (National Archives Microfilm Publication no. 551, 1964).

Spanish-American War. Will search Abstracts of Spanish-American War Military and Naval Service (B0809). Series B0809 includes data on both regular U.S. Army and Navy and National Guard personnel. The National Guard data is summarized in New York in the Spanish-American War, 4 vols. (Albany: 1900-14).

World War I. Will search Abstracts of World War I Military Service [Army, Navy, and Marines] (B0808). Series B0808 includes data on Army nurses and Navy yeomen (female) and nurses. The data found in B0808 was abstracted from Federal records that were destroyed by fire in 1973. Summary data on deaths is found in Roll of Honor: Citizens of the State of New York Who Died While in the Service of the United States During the World War, comp. J. Leslie Kincaid (Albany: 1922).

World War II and Later Conflicts. The Archives holds no records of New Yorkers' service in these conflicts. See below, For Further Information.

N.Y. State Militia/National Guard. Archives holds registers of N.Y. Militia and National Guard commissioned officers (1800-1909) and National Guard muster rolls (1878-1954). The rolls give no personal data other than name and rank, and date of appointment or muster. The registers and rolls are not indexed; therefore Archives staff will not search them.

Charges for Copies of War Service Records. There is no charge for the search itself. If documents are found for a named individual, the charge for handling, mailing, and photocopies or abstracts of documents is either $3.00 (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War) or $1.00 (Spanish-American War, World War I). A separate check or money order must accompany each filled-out search request form. If a record of service is found, a photocopy will be sent by U.S. Mail. If no record is found for a named individual, the check or money order will be returned to the sender with a notice of the search results.

You can request a war service record search by printing out and sending a War Service Records Search Request Form. For each search request, you must enclose a separate check or money order for the appropriate amount.

Special Notes. 1) Because some documents are either too fragile or too faintly written to be photocopied, the New York State Archives may furnish a complete abstract, rather than a photocopy, of a record of war service. 2) Using available indexes and data provided by the requester, Archives staff will search for documents relating to war service of a named individual. However, the Archives is not responsible for positively identify documents relating to a particular person, especially if a common name is being searched. 3) Search requests containing incomplete information or incorrect payment will be returned to the sender.

For Further Information.

For a search of Federal military service and pension files prior to 1902 and land bounty warrant files prior to 1855, request search form NATF-80 from:

National Archives
Textual Reference Branch (NNR1)
7th & Pennsylvania Avenues NW
Washington, DC 20408

For a search of Federal military service records after 1902, request SF-180 from:

National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138

For a search of World War I draft registration cards, request search form from:

National Archives--Southeast Region
1557 St. Joseph Ave.
East Point, GA 30344

For N.Y. State National Guard personnel files (1920-current) contact:

Division of Military & Naval Affairs
330 Old Niskayuna Road
Latham, NY 12110

Archives holdings are searchable through Excelsior, the online catalog of the New York State Archives. Records in the State Archives may be used at the Archives' research room. Certain record series have been microfilmed by the State Archives, and the film may be borrowed on inter-library loan or purchased. For further information please contact Research Assistance