Pre-1917 Army Records at the National Archives
The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives 1), houses records relating to soldiers and military units from the Revolutionary War up to (but not including) World War I. Other records cover administrative aspects of the War Department, military departments and commands, and veterans’ benefits. We also house records of the Freedmen's Bureau.
We house military service records for:
- Soldiers of the Continental and Regular Army from 1775 to 1916
- State volunteers raised for federal service (Revolutionary War through the Philippine Insurrection)
We also house regimental records for:
- Regular Army units (Mexican War through the Philippine Insurrection)
- State volunteer units (Mexican War through the Philippine Insurrection)
We house historical records of the Veterans Administration, including:
- Pension and bounty-land applications for Army veterans from 1775 to 1916 (and their widows and dependents)
- Registers of residents of national soldiers’ homes
- Registers of residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (formerly the U.S. Soldier’s Home) in Washington, DC
We also house settled accounts of the War Department for claims from various wars.
Military Departments and Commands:
We house the following records related to military departments and commands:
- Administrative records of the Secretary of War and War Department
- Administrative and operational records of geographical military departments, districts, sub-districts, commands, and installations (camps and forts)
- Operational records of overseas commands (Spanish-American War to the Mexican Punitive Expedition)
We also house the Papers of the Continental Congress and captured records of the former Confederate government.
We house records of the Freedmen's Bureau, the post-Civil War military agency that managed abandoned lands and dealt with refugees and freedmen in the South.
These records contain information about former slaves, including:
- Educational opportunities,
- Marriages, and
Many of these records have been digitized and made available online.
Commonly Requested Series:
Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Record Group 77: Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers
Record Group 92: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General
Record Group 93: War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records
Record Group 94: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s–1917
Record Group 98: Records of United States Army Commands, 1784–1821
Record Group 99: Records of the Office of the Paymaster General
Record Group 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
Record Group 107: Records of the Office of the Secretary of War
Record Group 108: Records of the Headquarters of the Army
Record Group 109: War Department Collection of Confederate Records
Record Group 110: Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War)
Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer
Record Group 112: Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army)
Record Group 153: Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Army)
Record Group 156: Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance
Record Group 159: Records of the Office of the Inspector General (Army)
Record Group 192: Records of the Office of the Commissary General of Subsistence
Record Group 203: Records of the Office of the Chief of Finance (Army)
Record Group 217: Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury
Record Group 231: Records of the Armed Forces Retirement Home
Record Group 249: Records of the Commissary General of Prisoners
Record Group 360: Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention
Record Group 365: Treasury Department Collection of Confederate Records
Record Group 391: Records of United States Regular Army Mobile Units, 1821–1942
Record Group 392: Records of U.S. Army Coast Artillery Districts and Defenses
Record Group 393: Records of United States Army Continental Commands, 1821–1920
Record Group 395: Records of United States Army Overseas Operations and Commands, 1898–1942
Some pre-World War I Army records are available online through Ancestry, Fold3, and FamilySearch. These records include:
- Revolutionary War Service and Pension Files
- Confederate Service Records
- Civil War Draft Registration Lists
- Applications for Military Headstones
National Archives Catalog
You can search the National Archives Catalog to find descriptions and digitized images of some pre-World War I Army records.
Search the National Archives Catalog
Looking for WWI and Later Army Records?
For U.S. Army personnel files for World War I or later:
- For personnel files older than 62 years, request these records from the National Archives at St. Louis.
- For personnel files more recent than 62 years, contact the National Personnel Records Center.
For World War I or later unit-level records for the U.S. Army:
- Contact the National Archives at College Park.