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Genealogy: Military Genealogy

A guide to the Genealogy resources at the Alvin Sherman Library

Civil War Genealogy

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System: The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System database contains basic facts about servicemen who served on both sides during the Civil War. The initial focus of the CWSS is the Names Index Project, a project to enter names and other basic information from 6.3 million soldier records in the National Archives.

Finding Military Genealogy Records

The National Archives divides the location of U.S. Federal military personnel record holdings as follows:

The National Archives, Washington, D.C., holds records relating to:


  • Volunteer enlisted men and officers whose military service whose service was considered to be in the federal interest, 1775 to 1902
  • Regular Army enlisted personnel, serving 1789–October 31, 1912
  • Regular Army officers, serving 1789–June 30, 1917
  • U.S. Navy enlisted personnel, serving 1798–1885
  • U.S. Navy officers, serving 1798–1902
  • U.S. Marine Corps enlisted personnel, serving 1798–1904
  • Some U.S. Marine Corps officers, serving 1798–1895 
  • Those who served in predecessor agencies to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Life-Saving Service, and the Lighthouse Service, 1791–1919

The National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri, holds military personnel files of:


  • U.S. Army officers separated after June 30, 1917, and enlisted personnel separated after October 31, 1912
  • U.S. Air Force officers and enlisted personnel separated after September 1947
  • U.S. Navy officers separated after 1902 and enlisted personnel separated after 1885
  • U.S. Marine Corps officers separated after 1895 and enlisted personnel separated after 1904
  • U.S. Coast Guard officers separated after 1928 and enlisted personnel separated after 1914; civilian employees of Coast Guard predecessor agencies such as Revenue Cutter Service, Lifesaving Service, and Lighthouse Service, 1864–1919


NOTE: On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at National Personnel Records Center destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files. 

Destroyed Official Military Personnel Files
Branch Personnel and Period Affected Estimated Loss
Army Personnel discharged November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1960 80%
Air Force Personnel discharged September 25, 1947, to January 1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.) 75%

Other Resources


  • Fold3 provides convenient access to US military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served. Fee based. 
  • Arlington National Cemetery