Massachusetts Military Records
This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG, for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Armed conflict was as much a part of Massachusetts history as religious dissension. Military sources are just as plentiful as for church records, but great quantities of them have been published. Original extant records, with card file index of service records (1643–1783), are at Massachusetts Archives, as well as some materials related to Shays’ Rebellion, the War of 1812, and the Spanish American War. The Massachusetts Military Museum and Archives, 44 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA, 01609 holds documents of the Massachusetts National Guard from 1636, material related to Massachusetts Volunteer regiments in the Civil War, archives of the Office of the Adjutant General, and military records of Massachusetts’s soldiers and sailors (1775–1940). Military records of Massachusetts’s veterans (1941–present) are at the Office of the Adjutant General, Military Records Branch, 239 Causeway St., Boston, MA 02114.
The records in print for earlier periods of conflict are covered in George M. Bodge’s Soldiers in King Philip’s War (1896; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967). There are also five volumes jointly published by the Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and New England Historic Genealogical Society: Mary E. Donahue, ed., Massachusetts Officers and Soldiers, 1702–1722 (1980); Myron O. Stachiw, ed., Massachusetts Officers and Soldiers, 1723–1743: Dummer’s War to the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1980); Robert E. Mackay, ed., Massachusetts Soldiers in the French and Indian Wars, 1744–1755 (1978); Nancy S. Voye, ed., Massachusetts Officers in the French and Indian Wars, 1748–1763 (1975); and Doreski, Carole, ed., Massachusetts Officers and Soldiers in the Seventeenth Century Conflicts (1982).
Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War (Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1896–1908) is comprised of seventeen volumes. An additional twenty thousand names were found after publication and entered on cards, which are on microfilm at Massachusetts Archives and New England Historic Genealogical Society. A fully searchable CD-ROM version is available through www.ancestry.com. Each listing is alphabetical by occurrence of the name in a muster roll, report, or pay file, etc., along with a town residence of the individual if it was obvious in the original record. No attempt was made to determine whether more than one record for the same name, in either the volumes or on cards, is actually for the same person.
Numerous materials are available for Loyalist research in Massachusetts. One of the many comprehensive biographical studies is David E. Mass, ed., Divided Hearts: Massachusetts Loyalists, 1765–1790, A Biographical Directory (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1980).
For the War of 1812, see Records of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Called Out by the Governor of Massachusetts to Suppress a Threatened Invasion during the War of 1812–14 (Boston: Adjutant General’s Office, 1913). For the Civil War, see Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War (Norwood, Mass.: Norwood Press, 1932).
In addition to the Adjutant General’s Office, many towns have memorials to their residents who served in later wars. Records are generally kept at the town or city clerk’s office.