Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Civil War Records Project

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was an organization of honorably discharged Union veterans of the American Civil War, who organized to promote the principles of “Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty.” Applicants for membership had to prove that they were honorably discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service (predecessor to the U.S. Coast Guard), who had served between April 1861 and April 1865.

The great majority of GAR records were maintained by the officers of the local GAR chapters (Posts). Many records were kept in the homes of key officers such as the Post Adjutant (secretary) and the Post Quartermaster (treasurer). Other records were stored at the post headquarters or were kept by the Post Commander. Because of this, the records for a particular Post may not all be archived at the same location.

As the veterans died or the local chapters voted to disband, the records were supposed to be sent to the GAR Department headquarters. This often didn’t happen. Many records were given to other organizations. A few were simply destroyed. Private collectors or the families of the last Post officers also still hold some records.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Records Project is an ongoing project sponsored by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) to document the location of repositories of records of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War. The organization tries “to assist in every practicable way in preserving, and making available for research, documents and records pertaining to the Grand Army of the Republic and its members.”

The primary feature of the GAR Records Project is an online catalog listing all known GAR Posts and associated records. This is an ongoing project, and there is still much more information that needs to be gathered. Locating the repositories of surviving records for over 10,000 GAR Posts is a massive effort, and many records are yet to be found. Your tips will help the SUVCW improve this project as it moves forward.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Records Project does not hold or make available records about individual veterans. Instead, it is a catalog of where such records may be found. In most cases, an in-person visit will be required to view the records.

For instance, the records of the Bangor, Maine post of the GAR, known as the B. H. Beale Post, are located at the Maine State Library’s University of Maine Orono Special Collections, 64 State House Station (230 State Street), Augusta, ME 04333.

The GAR Records Catalog can be accessed two different ways:

  1. You can explore GAR Posts by State, where you can select a state on the clickable map to explore detailed historical information, open related GAR Records Catalog pages, and find links to related websites (including SUVCW sites) for that state.
  2. You can Go Directly to the Catalog, which will open a new window in your browser and launch the stand-alone catalog.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Records Project may be found at http://www.garrecords.org.

6 Comments

I am a volunteer indexer aiding in preparing records for online access for FamilySearch. Recently I have been entering GAR post records which give the name of the veteran member and his GAR post. Some have death dates as well as other data a researcher would be pleased to uncover. When the project is completed it will be added to the Family Search catalogue of collections and researchers can search by name as with other collections. It should tie in with this GAR Records Project very nicely. Just tho’t your readers with an interest would be pleased to know this collection will be available before too long. I am sure its not all encompassing but its a start for those seriously researching Civil War era targets.

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    This is in reference to the indexing being done at the Family Search Library, as referenced above by J. Close. I would like to know if the records for the Nebraska posts have yet been included in this project. Thank you.

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The UW-Whitewater Archives is preparing a databse of the Civil War veterans who lived in Whitewater, Wisconsin. One of our base sources is the “Personal Reminiscences and Burial Records” of the Charles Curtice GAR post. Wisconsin has an excellent published guide to all of the known GAR posts.

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David Paul Davenport December 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm

The records of many California posts are held by the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall at 1816 S. Figueroa Street in Los Angeles (or so I’ve been told).

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See: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=13099762
I believe the last surviving vet of the Civil War in Oneida County and the Skillin Post was Joseph Chisam of Rome, NY who lived to be 101. I knew him and when I was home on furlough from WWII he greeted me as a fellow soldier and said he was in the Army nine months before he had a horse.

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I have an etching of Abe Lincoln that was given to Elbridge L Hawk commander in chief G.A.R. By Marybel Ross national president Ladies of G.A.R. September 18/1928 copyright 1902

Thomas Johnson is the artist .signed twice by Thomas Johnson and once by Josephine Johnson

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