Today’s post is written by T. Juliette Arai, a reference archivist who works at Archives I. Along with M. Marie Maxwell, she will be joining us as a regular blogger.
“What records do you have here?” is a common question we are asked everyday at Archives I. This post — Part 1 of a 3-part series — provides a brief description of the army records one can find at our facility in Washington, DC. Additional posts about records at Archives I pertaining to navy/maritime (Part 2) and civilian agencies (Part 3) will follow shortly.
Textual records at Archives I (AI) for both the U.S. Army and the War Department range in date from 1775 to 1917 – basically from the Revolutionary War (1775) up to, but not including, World War I (1917). Of course, as with anything in life, there are some exceptions with a few series which fall outside of this. Overall, however, the 1775-1917 date range is the general rule of thumb for army records at AI.
We have a number of records from various offices within the War Department. The following list contains all of the army record groups [RG] a researcher can currently find at AI:
- RG 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs (AI, Regions—only records for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers)
- RG 77, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers (AI, AII, Regions)
- RG 92, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (AI, AII, Regions)
- RG 93, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records (AI)
- RG 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office (AI)
- RG 98, Records of U.S. Army Commands (AI)
- RG 99, Records of the Office of the Paymaster General (AI)
- RG 105, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (AI)
- RG 107, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War (AI, AII)
- RG 108, Records of the Headquarters of the Army (AI)
- RG 109, War Department Collection of Confederate Records (AI)
- RG 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War) (AI, Regions)
- RG 111, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer (AI, AII)
- RG 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army) (AI, AII, Regions)
- RG 153, Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (AI, AII)
- RG 156, Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance (AI, AII, Regions)
- RG 159, Records of the Inspector General (AI, AII)
- RG 192, Records of the Office of the Commissary General of Subsistence (AI)
- RG 203, Records of the Office of the Chief of Finance (AI)
- RG 217, Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury (AI)
- RG 231, Records of the U.S. Soldiers’ Homes (AI)
- RG 249, Records of the Commissary General of Prisoners (AI)
- RG 391, Records of Regular Army Mobile Units (AI, AII)
- RG 393, Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands (AI)
- RG 395, Records of U.S. Army Overseas Operations & Commands (AI, AII)
As you may notice, some record groups are entirely at AI, like RG 94, RG 109, and RG 217, while others are split between AI and Archives II (AII), such as RG 111, RG 153, and RG 391. Additionally, some record groups are split between AI, AII, and our regional archives, like RG 77 and RG 156. In an instance such as this, records found in one of NARA’s regional archives usually consist of files created by a specific field office, like the Providence, Rhode Island, Engineer Office.
Because of our location near the National Mall, many of the records we have here are genealogical in nature. The types of records at AI with which researchers are most familiar include:
- Military service: compiled military service records; enlistment papers, and enlistment registers
- Carded medical records
- Courts-martial case files
- Burials/grave locations
We also have records related specifically to regiments for both Volunteer and Regular Army units, to a particular war or conflict, to fortifications or military reservations, and so on. Depending on one’s research interests, there can be a number of different possibilities and topics to pursue!
The regular bloggers for AI records hope to include posts that provide more detailed information about the various army records available, i.e., looking at a specific record group or type of record. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us via our email at firstname.lastname@example.org.