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Military Service Records Pathfinder
The New York State Archives holds many records that document the service of individuals during military conflicts from the colonial era through World War I (and limited records relating to service in World War II). These records contain summary service information, usually taking the form of claims for financial compensation, land grant documentation, or short abstracts recorded on cards or in registers. The State Archives does not hold service, pension, or bounty land warrant case files for individual soldiers along the lines of those held by the United States government.
This pathfinder will direct you to the best sources of military service information found in the New York State Archives. References to resources beyond the State Archives are provided at the end of the pathfinder. Choose a conflict or a time period below to begin investigating State Archives resources.
Military Service Records created by the Colonial and State Government of New York
Muster rolls of provincial troops and local militia units were filed in the records of the New York Provincial Council (Series A1894), but most were destroyed or damaged in the 1911 New York State Capitol building fire. The muster rolls were published in the Annual Report of the State Historian, 1895-1896 (Albany: 1896-1897). Other rolls are published in "Muster Rolls of New York Provincial Troops 1775-1764," New-York Historical Society Collections, 1891 (New York: 1892).
State Archives Series A0447 consists of records of land grants by letters patent for military service. Grants were made, pursuant to a royal proclamation of 1763, to demobilize officers and private soldiers of British regiments that served in North America during the Seven Years' War. An online index to this series is available. Series A4016 includes applications for land grants submitted by a number of the veterans of British regiments who are documented in Series A0447. An online index to this portion of Series A4016 is also available.
Most state records relating to Continental Line and militia service were damaged or destroyed in the 1911 New York State Capitol building fire. Revolutionary War Accounts and Claims (Series A0200), the largest set of these records, were abstracted and indexed prior to the fire in New York in the Revolution as Colony and State, 3d ed., 2 vols. (Albany: 1904).
State Archives Series A0447 consists of records of land grants by letters patent for military service. The series includes records of bounty lands granted to New York officers and soldiers who served in the Continental Line, or their assignees. An online index to this series is available. Related documents are found in the Applications for Land Grants (Series A0272), which is abstracted and indexed in Calendar of N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts Indorsed Land Papers, 1643-1803 (Albany: 1864).
The State Archives has created online name indexes to several additional series that contain Revolutionary War service information:
Series A0174, Certificates Submitted by Disabled Revolutionary War Veterans Claiming Pensions and Audited Accounts of Pensions, 1779-1789
Series A0870, Copies of Accounts Audited by the Auditor for Bills Presented to the State, 1780-1794
Series A1846, (Manuscript) Index to Council of Appointment Minutes, 1777-1786
Series A1363, Outgoing Correspondence Replying to Inquiries About Records of Soldiers of the Revolutionary War, compiled 1904-1909
Series A0870 and A1846 (pending publication) have been digitized and are available in the State Archives Digital Collections.
War of 1812
A major source of service information on soldiers of the War of 1812 is Series B0810, War of 1812 Abstracts of Payrolls for New York State Militia ("Payroll Cards"). The series has been digitized by Ancestry.com and is available for free to New York State residents through the Ancestry.com New York portal.
War of 1812 Certificates of Claim and Related Records (Series A0020) and the related Claim Applications for Service in the War of 1812 (Series A3352) document the process by which veterans submitted claims for reimbursement of cost of clothing, arms, and equipment furnished by themselves. An online index (pending publication) to this series is available. Names and claim numbers are also published in Index of Awards on Claims of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 (Albany: 1860; repr. 1969).
Entry Documentation Relating to Pension Claims, First New York Regiment of Volunteers, Mexican War (Series A1254) contains detailed military service information including claimant's rank, company, battles in which he was engaged, and any wounds he received. An online index (pending republication) is available. Series A1254 also has been digitized and is available in the State Archives Digital Collections.
Muster Roll Abstracts of N.Y. State Volunteers, U.S. Sharpshooters, and U.S. Colored Troops (Series 13775) and similar abstracts for U.S. Navy (Series B0803), U.S. Marine Corps (Series B0804), and N.Y. National Guard (Series B0800) contain service data on over 500,000 men. Online indexes are available for Series 13775 and B0800 (pending publication).
Registers of Officers and Enlisted Men Mustered into Federal Military or Naval Service During the Civil War (Series A0389) include sub-series pertaining to volunteers in service when the records were compiled, volunteers formerly in service, and volunteers who had died while in service. Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War (Series 13774) provide military service data and biographical information on men furnished by individual towns and cities (not all localities are included). Post descriptive books filed in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Records (Series B1706) are arranged by post number and contain vital information about each member: name; age; birthplace; current residence; occupation; date of entry into service; rank; company; regiment; final discharge date; length of service; cause of discharge; and date of membership in the GAR. Earliest admission cover sheets in New York State Veterans' Home Resident Case Files (Series A0710) contain service data on numerous Civil War veterans.
Series 13775, 13774, A0389, B1706 (post descriptive books only), and A0710 (admission cover sheets only) have been digitized by Ancestry.com and are available for free to New York State residents through the Ancestry.com New York portal.
Photographs of veterans found in Series B1706 have been digitized and are available in the State Archives Digital Collections.
For a comprehensive discussion of Civil War records in the State Archives, see The Union Preserved: A Guide to Civil War Records in the New York State Archives (New York: 1999).
Spanish-American and Early 20th Century Wars
The State Archives holds nearly 30,000 cards containing military and naval service abstracts and basic personal data for New Yorkers who fought in the U.S. Regular Army, Navy, and Marines during the Spanish-American War, 1898; Philippine-American War, or "Philippine Insurrection," 1899-1902; and China Relief Expedition, or "Boxer Rebellion," 1899-1901 (Series B0809). Related Series B0801 consists of abstracts of muster rolls for National Guard and Naval Militia units mustered into federal service during the Spanish-American War. Additional muster roll abstracts are available for National Guard units mustered into federal service during the 1916 Mexican Punitive Campaign (Series B0802).
Series B0809 and B0802 mentioned above have been digitized by Ancestry.com and are available for free to New York State residents through the Ancestry.com New York portal.
World War I
Series B0808 consists of abstracts of military service for over 800,000 New York residents (men and women) who enlisted or who were inducted into the armed forces of the United States from 1917 through 1919. The abstracts, (also known as service cards), document Army officers and enlisted men; Navy personnel; Marines; and Nurses. Cards provide data on each veteran's residence, induction into military service, organizations served with, overseas service, and discharge from the service. The complete series has been digitized by Ancestry.com and is available for free to New York State residents through the Ancestry.com New York portal.
The State Archives holds an addition collection of World War I veterans' service data and photographs (Series A0412). This series is arranged by county and municipality therein, and contains personal information, service data, newspaper clippings, and photographs of New York State veterans of World War I. No name index exists. The series is available in microfilm format through inter-library loan as well as in digital format through the Ancestry.com New York portal.
Service abstracts (Series 13721) and muster rolls (Series B0814) of members of the "Harlem Hellfighters" (369th Infantry, formerly 15th Infantry New York National Guard) have been digitized and are available in the State Archives Digital Collections. See 13721 and B0814. A sample of documents and photographs from Series A0412 is also available in the State Archives Digital Collections.
World War II
Service Cards for New York National Guard Members in Federal Service during the Second World War (part of Series B2001) have been digitized by Ancestry.com and are available for free to New York State residents through the Ancestry.com New York portal. An online index is available from the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs. The series is also available on microfilm at the State Archives.
An online listing of U.S. Army and Air Force dead and missing; and U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard dead, missing, prisoners of war, and wounded is available from the State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
The National Archives maintains an online database containing summary enlistment data for World War II service personnel.
New York State Militia/National Guard (Peacetime)
The State Archives holds registers of Militia and National Guard commissioned officers for the period 1800-1899 (Series 13729) and National Guard muster rolls for the period 1878-1954 (Series 13726). Muster rolls from prior to 1878 were destroyed in the State Capitol building fire of 1911. These muster rolls only provide lists of organization members (by rank) present at time of muster and lists of members added or lost since pervious muster. No index exists.
Series B2001 includes service cards for National Guard members discharged prior to World War II. These service cards have been digitized by Ancestry.com and are available for free to New York State residents through the Ancestry.com New York portal.
Inquiries regarding records of National Guard personnel discharged after 1954 should be directed to the Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
The State Archives holds no military service records of New Yorkers in conflicts after World War II.
Forms and instructions for requesting federal military service records from World War I and later conflicts are available from the National Archives. Forms and instructions for requesting federal military service, pension, and bounty land warrant records from prior to World War I are also available from the National Archives.