Military Records

Background Reading and Lists

  • The Source: a Guidebook of American Genealogy. Chapter 11. Good essay on military records. Social Science and History Department (SSH) 929.1072 So84a2.
  • Genealogist's Companion & Sourcebook. Good section on military records and a useful bibliography. SSH 929.1072 C882g.
  • Ancestry's Red Book. Lists military records by U.S. state. SSH 929.1072 An21r2.
  • U.S. Military Records. The best one volume book about military records. SSH 929.3097 N249u.
  • Research Guide to Loyalist Ancestors. SSH 929.1072 B884r.
  • The Genealogist's Address Book. Lists lineage and hereditary societies by war and historical period. SSH 929.1025 B444g.
  • American and British Genealogy and Heraldry. Lists "classic" military resources and pension lists. SSH/STX 016.9291 F472a.
  • Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research in Pennsylvania. SSH/STX 016.9748 H671g3.
  • Pennsylvania Area Key. Has a section on wars and military records in Pennsylvania. SSH 016.9748 C617p2.
  • Clint's Pennsylvania County Series, a series of books that list genealogical resources by Pennsylvania county. For example, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Area Key. Each area key lists some military records by PA county. SSH/STX 929.3748 C617bu.
  • Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Woodroofe Series. To see individual issues, get a call slip at the SSH reference desk. Lists Historical Society of Pennsylvania holdings for PA counties as of the 1980s. A good source for military records by Pennsylvania county. SSH/STX A929 G28.
  • National Archives guides, listed below, are also essential resources.

Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP)

  • Researching your Family History at the Central Library. Handout. SSH.

To make FULL use of the FLP collection, you must be able to use the online catalog, especially the subject and keyword functions. If you have difficulties with the catalog, ask for assistance from a librarian. The books listed below are only SOME of the military references available at FLP.

  • Bibliography of Pennsylvania History with suppls. 016.9748 P3843b. Good for histories of PA military organizations. (For materials after 1970, see the America: History and Life database, available only at the Parkway Central Library.) SSH/STX and Government Publications Department (GPD).
  • Complete Army and Navy Register of the United States of America, from 1776 to 1887. SSH/STX R355 H171 and GPD W 3.12/a: 776-887.
  • Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1789-1903. SSH 923.5 65h2 and GPD/STX W 3.11: 789-903.
  • Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Army. SSH/STX R923.5 H1713 (1883), R923.5 P87 (1890).
  • A Compilation of the Registers of the Army of the Unites States from 1815 to 1837. SSH/STX 353.6 G65.
  • Official Army Register, 1831, 1842-1976. GPD/STX D 102.9.
  • Army List and Directory, 1893-1941. GPD/STX W 3.10.
  • Official Army National Guard Register, 1922-1975 with gaps. GPD/STX 12.9.
  • Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point..., and suppls., 1802-1900. SSH/STX R923.5 C89.
  • Register of Graduates and Former Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1912-1991. SSH 923.5 R263o.
  • Register of Alumni, United States Military Academy, 1845-1980. SSH 359.0071 Un3r.
  • Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., 1846-1961. GPD/STX D 109.7.
  • Alphabetical List of Battles, 1754-1900. SSH 973 St81a.
  • List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900. SSH/STX 923.5 C13.
  • The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. SSH/STX R923.5 H17 (1870), R923.5 H1711 (1878), R923.5 H1714 (1890), R923.5 H1712 (1898).
  • Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 1949-1984. GPD/STX D 208.12.
  • Naval Reserve Register, 1963-1984. GPD/STX D 208.12/2.
  • Annual Register of the United States Naval Academy, 1865-1970 with gaps. GPD/STX D 208.107.
  • Abstracts of Service Records of Naval Officers, 1829-1924. An alphabetical list of officers whose service records have been abstracted and microfilmed. GPD/STX AE 1.119:M 1328.
  • Register of the Officers, Vessels, and Stations of the United States Coast Guard, 1915-1982. GPD/STX TD 5.19.
  • United States Navy & Marine Corps Bases, Domestic. SSH/STX 359.7097 Un3sd. Overseas 359.7097 Un3so.
  • Index of the Roll of Honor, Daughters of the American Revolution, vols. 1-160. 369 D2611. The Roll of Honor, vols. 1-166, has the same call number. Errata for vols. 1-112 are in the back of vol. 112. SSH/STX 369 D2611.
  • National Register of the Society, Sons of the American Revolution, 1902. SSH/STX 369 So63.
  • Pennsylvania Society Sons of the Revolution, Centennial Register, 1888-1988. SSH 369.13 C333r.
  • For other patriotic organizations, search the online catalog using the name of the organization as a subject heading. Names and descriptions of many of these organizations are in The Hereditary Register of the United States of America. SSH 369.1 H42r.
  • Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army. SSH 973.3 65h2.
  • Pierce's Register. Paymaster General certificates for the American Revolution. SSH 973.34 Un36p.
  • Index of Revolutionary War Pension Applications. SSH/STX 929.3 N213i.
  • Letter from the Secretary of War.... American Revolution pension list as of 1818. SSH/STX 973.34 Un381.
  • Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions. SSH 929.3 Un35r.
  • The Pension Roll of 1835 (vol. 2 only). Gives pensioners from Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. SSH 929.3 Un38p.
  • Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania, 1700-1809, GPD P38-7, and Laws of Pennsylvania, 1806-1963, GPD P38-21, contain some state military pension information.
  • A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services.... GPD 929.34 Un34c. American Revolution pension information from the 1840 U.S. census. Should be used in conjunction with A General Index to a Census of Pensioners or Revolutionary or Military Services.... GPD 973.34 G286g.
  • Revolutionary America, 1763-1789: a Bibliography, 2 vols. GPD/STX LC 1.12/2:R32/4/763-789/.
  • Summer Soldiers: a Survey & Index of Revolutionary War Courts-Martial. SSH/STX 973.34 N249s.
  • The Pennsylvania Navy. Good bibliography for research. SSH/STX 973.35 J135p.
  • Marines in the Revolution. Good bibliography for research. SSH/STX 973.35 Sm53m.
  • Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution, Battalions and Line, 1775-1783. SSH/STX R973.34 L64.
  • Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments. Shelved with 929.3 P. SSH 973.34 B631r.
  • Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organizations and Operations. Pennsylvania units in the American Revolution. GPD/STX STATES P38-5360.
  • Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units. SSH 973.34 B452e.
  • Encyclopedia of British, Provincial, and German Army Units, 1775-1783. SSH 973.34 K155e.
  • Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 9 vols. GPD/STX D 207.12:1-9.
  • Journals of the Continental Congress, 34 vols., with index. GPD/SECOND BALCONY LC 4.5.
  • Index, the Papers of the Continental Congress, 5 vols., with chronology. GPD/STX GS 4.2: C76/3/v.1-5. The Papers of the Continental Congress are available on microfilm at National Archives, Record Group 360: M247, M40, M61, M332, M866.
  • Pennsylvania Archives. Guide to the Published Archives of Pennsylvania is shelved with Pennsylvania Archives. SSH 974.8 P3823a. Another way to get an overview of this massive set of books is to see Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research in Pennsylvania, pp. 87-96. Especially important for American Revolution and War of 1812 research. SSH/STX 016.9748 H671g4.
  • Soldiers of the American Revolution, Philadelphia City, Pennsylvania. (Shelved with 974.81 in Local History section.) SSH 973.3448 W675s.
  • Soldiers of the American Revolution, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania including Montgomery County. (Shelved with 974.81 in Local History section.) SSH 973.3448 W675sm.
  • Quasi War with France, 8 vols. GPD/STX N 16.2:Q2/.
  • Barbary Wars, 7 vols. GPD/STX N 16.2:B 23.
  • Pennsylvania and the War of 1812. SSH 973.52 Sa67p.
  • Known Military Dead During the War of 1812. SSH/STX 973.52 P442k.
  • A Brief Sketch of the Military Operations on the Delaware During the Late War.... SSH 973.522 B765s.
  • A History of Philadelphia with a Notice of Villages.... Contains Muster Rolls for Philadelphia units in the War of 1812. Rare Books Department (RBD) R974.81 B67.
  • "A Guide to Pennsylvania Soldiers in the Mexican War," in Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, all 4 issues, vol. 36, 1989/90. SSH/STX A929 G28.
  • The Mexican American War: an Annotated Bibliography. SSH/STX 016.9736 T8815m.
  • Index to Mexican War Pension Files. SSH 016.9736 W585i but shelved at 929.3097 N249.
  • History of Pennsylvania Volunteers. Lists members of Pennsylvania units in the Civil War. SSH 973.7448 B319h.
  • Officers of the Army and Navy (Regular and Volunteer) Who Served in the Civil War. A923.5 Of2. Many photos. (Oversize) SSH A923.5 Of2.
  • Official Army Register of the Volunteer Forces of the United States Army for 1861-1865. GPD/STX W 3.12: 1-8. Pennsylvania is in vol. 3.
  • The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. GPD/STX W 45.5. Use with The Official Records of the American Civil War: a Research Guide. SSH/STX 016.9737 Ai58o. Also see Military Operations of the Civil War: a Guide-Index to the Official Records.... GPD/STX GS 4.21:1-5.
  • Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. GPD/STX N 16.6.
  • Military Bibliography of the Civil War, 3 vols. Good for regimental publications and personal narratives. SSH/STX 016.9737 D735r.
  • Personnel of the Civil War, 2 vols. SSH 973.74 Am13p.
  • A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. SSH/STX 973.7 D988c2.
  • Compendium of the Confederate Armies. 10 vols. SSH/STX 973.742 Si21c.
  • Record of the Federal Dead Buried From Libby, Belle Isle, Danville, and Camp Lawton Prisons.... SSH/STX 973.76 Un38r.
  • Civil War Books: a Critical Bibliography, 2 vols. SSH/STX 016.9737 N417c.
  • Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War. SSH/STX 016.9737 M923g.
  • Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America. SSH/STX 016.9737 B392g.
  • History of the Philadelphia Brigade. Lists many Civil War dead from Philadelphia. SSH 973.74 B22.
  • Philadelphia in the Civil War, 1861-1865. Gives the designation of Pennsylvania units with significant numbers of Philadelphians. SSH/STX 973.748 T21.
  • Pennsylvania's Soldier's Orphan Schools. Great lists. GPD/STX States P38-746.
  • Annual Report of the Pennsylvania Commission of Soldier's Orphan Schools for the year ending..., 1876-1918. Lists of faculty and students. GPD/STX States P38-63.
  • Proceedings of the Annual Encampment of the Department of Pennsylvania Grand Army of the Republic..., 1872-1935. Lists department officers and others. Later volumes list death dates of veterans who died during the previous year. GPD/STX States P38-56.
  • Record of Changes in Membership of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1878-1919. GPD/STX War 986.
  • List of Pensioners on the Roll, January 1, 1883. GPD/STX I 24.6:883 v.1-5.
  • Record of Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Spanish-American War. GPD States P38-667.
  • Pennsylvania in the World War. SSH/STX A940.91 St22.
  • Soldiers of the Great War. Casualty lists of WWI. Many photos of individual soldiers. SSH/STX A940.91 So4.
  • The Twenty-Eighth Division, Pennsylvania's Guard in the World War. SSH/STX OVERSIZE A940.91 M36.
  • World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing. 46 of the 48 states. Army. GPD/STX W 107.13: (State).
  • Combat Connected Casualties WWII, by States. Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. GPD/STX N 1.34/2:1-2.
  • American Military Casualties and Burials. Lists National Archives record groups relating to WWII. GPD/STX AE 1.124:82.
  • World War II: Books in English. Good for unit histories. SSH/STX 016.94 Z62w.
  • For lists of the dead for WWII and the Korean War see Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints section, below.
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Directory of Names. This list gives the names and other data for those whose names appear on the Washington, D.C. memorial. For a list of the names on the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial, see SSH - Philadelphia Vertical File. Another list of the Vietnam War dead is at LDS; see below. SSH/STX 959.7043 V678ve.
  • List of Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Miscellaneous Units, 1801-1947. GPD 4.7:44.
  • Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863-1994. SSH 355.1342 L252m.
  • Jewish League of Valor. SSH/STX 296 G953j.
  • American Military Cemeteries. SSH 353.0086 H742a (shelved as 929.5025).
  • How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military. SSH 355.0025 J636.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP)

To make full use of the HSP collection, you must be able to use all of their catalogs.

There is an outstanding military reference book section at HSP. Many of their most important military reference books and indexes are placed here for browsing.

National Archives - Mid-Atlantic Branch (NARA)

  • Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives. GPD 016.9291 Un3g.
  • The Archives: a Guide to the National Archives Field Branches. SSH 016.973 Sz71a.
  • Guide to the National Archives of the United States. SSH 027.573 Un3g.
  • Military Service Records: a Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. SSH and GPD 016.3556 Un3m but shelved at 929.3097 N249.
  • Records of military agencies relating to African Americans from the Post-World War I period to the Korean War. A listing of records at NARA. GPD/STX AE 1.1241052006. Also available onlineNARA records - PDF version
  • Military Service Records at the National Archives. GPD/STX AE 1.124:109.

Ask the archivist for specialized guides and bibliographies that describe NARA holdings by war. Don't forget to ask about WWI draft registration records.

Military records in NARA from the 20th Century are located at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. Earlier records are located at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.. Forms for requesting veteran's records from both locations are available at NARA and online.

All special requests that do not fit into the categories described on these forms should be sent to The National Archives, Civil Reference Branch, NNRC, 8th & Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., 20408. For best results, talk over your request with the archivist at the Mid-Atlantic Branch.

Pennsylvania State Archives (PAA)

  • Guide to Genealogical Sources at the Pennsylvania State Archives. SSH 016.9293 P384g2.
  • Pennsylvania Military Records. Before going to Harrisburg, however, check at FLP to see if the needed records have been published in the Pennsylvania Archives. SSH 974.8 P3823a.

Philadelphia City Archives (PAR)

  • Descriptive Inventory of the Archives of the City and County of Philadelphia. SSH 016.9748 P53d.

David Library of the American Revolution (DAV)

  • Guide to the Sol Feinstone Collection of the David Library of the American Revolution. SSH 016.9733 F83g.
  • The David Library has a special collection encompassing the period 1755-1800. Very strong in microfilm holdings. For a brochure, write or call 1201 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA 18977. (215) 493-6776.

United States Army Military History Institute (USAMHI)

A vast special collection of U.S. and foreign military material. To make an historical inquiry or for research assistance email or call (717) 245-3949. You can also search the online catalog.

Civil War Library and Museum (CWLM)

A special collection including unit histories, manuscripts, and correspondence of civil war soldiers. Call or write for a brochure. 1805 Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. (215) 735-8196.

Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum (GAR)

A special collection with some interesting one-of-a-kind material. Call or write for a brochure. 4278 Griscom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124. (215) 289-6484.

National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)

Before requesting military records from this location, see the pamphlet U.S. Military Records in the Free Library's SSH vertical files, The Source SSH 929.1072 So84a2, and How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military SSH 355.0025 J636. Forms for requesting veteran's records are available at NARA.

Veterans Administration (VA)

Before requesting records from this location, see The Source: a Guidebook of American Genealogy, Chapter 11. SSH 929.1072 So84a2.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS)

  • U.S. Military Records. Available at Family History Centers.
  • The LDS collection is the largest collection of genealogical material in the world and is worldwide in scope. Numerous microfilm reels of military records are available for loan for a nominal fee.
  • Lists of American service personnel killed in the Korean and Vietnam War are available here.
  • WWI Draft Registration Records for Philadelphia, on microfilm, are available here.