Research in Michigan Military Records Research

The benefits and importance of Michigan military records in genealogical research for ancestors who have been veterans are evident but Michigan military records can also be beneficial to researchers whose primary ancestors were not soldiers in any war. Mainly because of the amount of genealogical facts covered in several Michigan military pension records they ought to not be ignored throughout the research process.

Michigan's military records are held at the State Archives of Michigan, which can be contacted by e-mail or through the regular postal service. Some of the Descriptive Rolls of Michigan Units (1838–1919) can be found there. Although, others are missing. The archives files also include records from Spanish-American War and Civil War fraternal organizations of veterans. Organization muster rolls list member names and their military backgrounds. Census records from the census of Civil War veterans taken in 1888 are also available there. They list important details about each veteran, such as their address, rank, and military unit. Records from the Soldier and Sailors' Home, later renamed the Veterans' Facility, can also be found at the State Archives of Michigan. It still exists today and serves all veterans from any war involving the United States. The records of that institution available at the State Archives of Michigan date from 1885 to 1986. Veterans, widows or wives of veterans, and ex-nurses at the institution are all listed in those records, along with mothers of veterans and a few other useful details, such as family relationship and military history information.

No Civil War pension records are available at the State Archives of Michigan. However, the Civil War Centennial Observance Commission created a listing of grave registrations, which is available there. Those forms are organized by county and alphabetically by soldier name. They list birthplaces, places of death, cemetery locations, service records, and other useful information. Grand Army of the Republic Post muster rolls can also be found at the State Archives of Michigan. Civil War Soldier portraits are also available there. They are indexed according to the surnames of the soldiers.

The “Civil War Manuscripts” collection at the State Archives of Michigan contains discharge papers, letters, diaries, journals, certificates, and other useful documents. Each of the following reference materials may also include helpful information:

  • Archival 1, Records of the Michigan Military Establishment, 1838–1941
  • Archival 15, Records of the Grand Army of the Republic, Michigan Department
  • Archival 17, Records of the Michigan Veteran’s Facility
  • Circular No. 20, Civil War Manuscripts

The State Archives of Michigan website also lists indexes of its holdings.

Many Civil War soldier records can be found in the Burton Historical Collection. Within that collection is a register of soldiers who were sick and wounded and taken to St. Mary's. Harper, or the Detroit Post Hospital. That collection is called U.S. General Hospital (1864–65).

Michigan Soldiers and Sailors (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Ihling Brothers and Everard, 1903–15), which is also known as Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861–1865 was published by Adjutant General George H. Brown. It is a 46-volume collection that is indexed alphabetically. Alphabetical General Index to Public Library Sets of 85,271 Names of Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Individual Records (Lansing, Mich.: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck, Crawford, Co., 1915) contains an index of Civil War soldiers who were from Michigan.

Unpublished indexes from the Spanish-American War, as well as World War I, are available at the State Archives of Michigan as well.

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