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Military Service Records Research: Overview

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MNHS has many useful records documenting military service.  Most of these are in the State Archives collection under the records of the Adjutant General and the Department of Military Affairs.

The Adjutant General is a constitutional officer appointed by the governor. The function of this office is to manage the state militia (the National Guard) and the various armories and support facilities for it.  

The Department of Military Affairs was created after World War II. It administers a variety of veterans programs.

This guide will give you an overview on how to find records from the following wars:

Civil War

US-Dakota War

Spanish American War

World War I

World War II-

Pension Registers and Indexes, 1878-1949
Registers of pension claims filed by veterans of military service, or their dependents, who resided in Minnesota at the time the claim was made. The entries are mainly for veterans of the Mexican War (1848), the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War; however, some claims from World Wars I and II are also included. The presentation and completeness of entries varies somewhat, but generally includes class of claim (e.g., original, arrears, increase, restoration to rolls, bounty, widow, father, mother, Mexican War), pension number, date filed, claimant's name and address, "account of" (veteran for whose service the pension was being claimed), service unit and rank, details (sometimes considerable) on the nature of the claim and/or proofs offered, and a record of administrative actions taken on the claim.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
Veterans Grave Registration Reports, 1930-1975
In 1927, the Minnesota Adjutant General was given responsibility to maintain a permanent registry of the graves of all persons who served in the military or naval forces of the United States and whose mortal remains were buried in Minnesota. In 1943, this responsibility was transferred to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. In 1947, the funeral director overseeing the burial was required to complete the form and forward it to the state. In 1969, this graves registration program was eliminated from the duties of the Veterans Affairs Department, although some counties' officials—mainly Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Ramsey, and Swift—and the Fort Snelling Cemetery continued to submit reports until about 1975. The extant records total approximately 70,000 forms. This set of reports contains records of military veterans buried in Minnesota cemeteries, as reported to the Minnesota Adjutant General and then the Minnesota Department of Veteran's Affairs.  
MNHS call number: Click here for instructions on how to search for Veterans Grave Registrations in PeopleFinder. 

Research Options

Video Tutorial

Watch this quick video tutorial about Military Service Records at the MNHS library. 

Related Research Guides & Webpages

Guide Author

Hamp Smith
Reference Archivist 

MNHS Reference Staff

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