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Service Records

Service records document an individual’s involvement with the military and can be used for proving military service, or as a valuable tool in genealogical research. Some service records are available online. See the service records pages for each of the individual wars for links to these records.

Compiled Service Records

The federal government has compiled military service records for soldiers serving in volunteer units in wars between 1775 and 1902. These records, on cards, have abstracts of information taken from un-microfilmed original records at the National Archives such as muster rolls, pay lists, hospital records, record books, orders, and correspondence found in Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s–1917. For a description of the contents of this record group, see:

A card was made for each soldier and put in an envelope along with some original documents. These files are arranged by state, then by military unit, then alphabetically by the soldier’s name. The cards usually provide a soldier’s name, rank and unit, the state from which the soldier served, the date enlisted, and length of service. You may also find the age, residence, physical description, and date of discharge or death.

Official Repositories for Service Records

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository for Federal military service records.

  • Older military personnel records, from the Revolutionary War to 1917 (depending on the service branch), are on file at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Service Records (Revolutionary War to 1917)

Older military personnel records, from the Revolutionary War to 1917 (depending on the service branch), are on file at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Military Records Holdings in Washington, D.C.:
Branch of Service Dates of Holdings
Volunteers Military service performed by persons serving during an emergency and whose service was considered to be in the Federal interest, 1775 - 1902
Regular Army Enlisted personnel, 1789 - November 1, 1912
Officers, 1789 - July 1, 1917
Navy Enlisted personnel, 1798 - 1885
Officers, 1798 - 1902
Marine Corps All Personnel, 1798 - 1904
Coast Guard Persons who served in predecessor agencies to the U.S. Coast Guard: the Revenue Cutter Service (Revenue Marine), the Life-Saving Service, and the Lighthouse Service, December 31, 1897 and prior
Confederate States Persons who rendered military service for the Confederate States government in its armed forces, 1861 - 1865
Veterans Records Claims files for pensions based on Federal military service, 1775 - 1916 and
Bounty land warrant application files relating to claims based on wartime service, 1775 - 1855

To order military service records from Washington, D.C., order online or the NATF Form 86.

Copies of military pension claim files for military service from the American Revolution up to before World War I and bounty-land warrant applications for Federal military service before 1856 can now be ordered online, as well as through NATF Form 85.

Or write: National Archives & Records Administration, Old Military and Civil Records (NWCTB-Military), Textual Services Division, 700 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20408-0001.

Service Records (WWI to the present)

Military service records from WWI through the present (depending on the service branch) are held at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis.

Military Service Records in St. Louis, MO:
Branch of Service Dates of Holdings
U.S. Army
(includes Army Air Corps and Army Air Forces)
Officers separated from July 1, 1917 - September 30, 2002
Enlisted personnel separated from November 1, 1912 - September 30, 2002

Please Note: Many Army and Air Force records were destroyed by fire in the St. Louis Center in 1973.

Personnel records of Army members discharged/retired after October 1, 2002, are retained in electronic format by the Army. NPRC has access to the Army's electronic system and will respond to requests for those records.
U.S. Air Force Officers and enlisted personnel separated from September 24, 1947 - September 30, 2004

Please Note: Many Army and Air Force records were destroyed by fire in the St. Louis Center in 1973.

Personnel records of Air Force members discharged/retired after October 1, 2004, are retained in electronic format by the Air Force and are not transferred to NPRC.
U.S. Navy Officers separated from 1902 - December 31, 1994
Enlisted personnel separated from 1885 - December 31, 1994

Personnel records of Navy members discharged/retired after January 1, 1995, are retained in electronic format by the Navy and are not transferred to NPRC.
U.S. Marine Corps Officers and enlisted personnel separated from 1905 - December 31, 1998

Personnel records of Marine Corps members discharged/retired after January 1, 1999, are retained in electronic format by the Marine Corps and are not transferred to NPRC.
U.S. Coast Guard
(including: Revenue Cutter Service (Revenue Marine), the Life-Saving Service, and the Lighthouse Service)
Officers and enlisted personnel separated from January 1, 1898 - present

To order records from the National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis:

  • Written requests (using Standard Form 180, or letter) should be mailed to: National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

Access to Military Service Records is limited. See Services for Veterans, Next-of-Kin, or the Veteran's Representative for more information.

Please note: The service records of all former active military service personnel who were discharged, retired, or who had died in service, prior to 1949, are now open to the public. These archival records are treasured by family members, historians, researchers, and genealogists.

State Records of Service

Each state keeps service records for its own militia, volunteer regiments, or national guard units. These are usually available at state archives, state historical societies, or state adjutant general’s offices. If a state unit was mustered into federal service, the federal government may have sent copies of records to the office of the state adjutant general.

The Family History Library has microfilmed state military records in many states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia. Many early militia and state records have also been published and indexed. These are described in the state Wiki pages.

National Guard Records

Serivce records of former National Guard members who were not called into active Federal military service are held by the state. Contact the Adjutant General of the state in which the member served.

Service Records by Conflict


 

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  • This page was last modified on 15 April 2012, at 23:06.
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