United States, Union Provost Marshal's File of Papers Relating to Civilians (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.


Record Description

The collection was digitized from microfilm and is arranged alphabetically by the first two or three letters of the surname. It consists of correspondence, provost court papers, lists of transportation permits, claims for compensation for property used or destroyed by military forces, affidavits, oaths of loyalty and other lists. Although the records were kept by the Union Army, they primarily deal with information about confederate citizens and union citizens who were suspected of supporting the confederate cause. itary police of the Union army. They dealt with a wide range of individuals including those who were suspected of disloyalty or of giving aid to the enemy, who violated military orders, were prisoners, were authorized to travel in or to enter the Confederate states, and others. During the war each division, brigade, and corps of the Union Army had a provost marshal.

This collection covers the years from 1861 through 1866.

  • Provost marshals kept records of their activities as the military police
  • Provost courts were established to try civilians who violated military orders as well as military personnel suspected of committing civil crimes

These records are usually reliable.

For a list of records by document type currently published in the United States, Union Provost Marshal Files of Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866 collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

Record Content

The records contain a variety of facts which vary by the individual record. Those most often found in the collection are listed below:

  • Name of civilian
  • County and/or state of civilian’s residence
  • Reason why civilian was brought into question
  • Current residence
  • Occupation
  • Legal findings
  • Resolution of matter

How to Use the Record

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • Name of your ancestor
  • Residence
  • Occupation

Search the Collection

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the “Select a surname range" category which takes you to the images

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

Index for Missourians in the Provost Marshal's Records.

  • Film numbered referenced will tell which of the two records sets you will locate the file. Film numbers F1580-F1662 indicate that the file is located in United States, Union Provost Marshal Files of Two or More Civilians, 1861-1866. All other film numbers designate United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866. The files for individual citizens are arranged alphabetically. The files for two or more citizens are arranged by file number and date. Take note of the date in the Missouri index to more readily locate the file in the "two or more civilians" record set. 

Using the Information

When you have located a document about your ancestor, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example use the residence or locality listed to find the family in census, church and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Provost marshal records can be used to place an individual in a specific location at a specific time.
  • They can show how individual citizens were involved in the Civil War.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • These records may give initials rather than full names so you should use caution in determining if the record is for your ancestor.
  • If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
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Don't overlook FHL Place United States items or FHL Keyword United States items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see United States Archives and Libraries.

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Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box:

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

Citations for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

"United States, Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing NARA microfilm publication M345. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.


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  • This page was last modified on 7 November 2014, at 23:02.
  • This page has been accessed 5,084 times.