Minnesota Military Records

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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Minnesota Family History Research series.
History of Minnesota
Minnesota Vital Records
Census Records for Minnesota
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Minnesota Land Records
Minnesota Probate Records
Minnesota Court Records
Minnesota Tax Records
Minnesota Cemetery Records
Minnesota Church Records
Minnesota Military Records
Minnesota Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Minnesota Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Minnesota Immigration
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Ethnic Groups of Minnesota
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Map of Minnesota


Initial research on a Minnesota volunteer in the Civil War should include the two-volume Board of Commissioners on Publication of History in Civil and Indian Wars’ Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861–1865 (St. Paul: Pioneer Press Co., 1890–93 and 1891–99). The first volume includes regimental rosters and narratives. The second contains reports and correspondence. Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars: An Index to the Rosters was compiled in 1936 for the Minnesota Historical Society by the WPA and is available on microfilm at the society.

The society’s reference library has an incomplete file “in progress” of veterans of these periods of warfare, including those who moved to Minnesota after the wars. The information, which may include residence, death date, widow’s name, pension file number, regiment, and company, has been accumulated from a variety of sources, including the 1890 Federal Census of Veterans, pension registers, names of participants in GAR parades, the reports noting deaths during the years, and a few biographical sketches.

The Minnesota Historical Society Research Center holds numerous diaries of Civil War veterans, some regimental records, Grand Army of the Republic records, microfilms of service cards for Minnesota State Militia in federal military service in the Civil War, and Civil War Pension Registers of letters sent from the Adjutant General for 1877 through 1949. The name of the veteran, date of the letter, and amount awarded is included on the cards. Board of Auditors files at the research center includes minutes and registers of claims and certificates relating to the Dakota Conflict (Sioux uprising) of 1862. World War I military service cards for people who entered the service through the Minnesota National Guard are also at the research center along with photographic copies of original draft lists, induction lists, and soldiers’ bonus records. This file includes over 120,000 bonus applications for Minnesota soldiers, marines, sailors, and medical personnel who served in World War I. It is not indexed, but the fifty-one questions on the application include name, place and date of birth, names and residence of nearest relative, draft information, present residence and occupation, name of employer, business address, name and address of parents at time of enlistment, length of residence in Minnesota, and marital status. The Minnesota Historical Society also has bonus records for World War II on microfilm.

The Public Safety Commission Gold Star Roll Records at the Minnesota Historical Research Center pertain to men and women from Minnesota who died in World War I. The four-page form includes biographical information and may include family photographs, letters, and clippings.

Other military records at the Minnesota Historical Society Research Center include Camp Ripley records for 1842 to 1843, Mexican border service payroll records from the early twentieth century, Minnesota soldiers’ home records beginning in 1891, membership applications for the Sons of the American Revolution, and information from the Mexican-American and Spanish American wars.

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