For more than 350 years, millions of Americans have been involved in military service, both at home and abroad. Consequently, military records are one of the most fruitful resources for biographical and genealogical research.
In order to facilitate your investigation, you'll need to become familiar with the various types of military records in existence (such as muster rolls, bounty-land warrants, pensions, etc.) and the information they contain. It is equally important to understand what resources exist on the county, state, and federal levels, and where such documents can be found.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a major collection of military unit histories, bibliographies, indexes, memoirs, and related publications. Our collections document wars from the colonial period through World War II.
The following is a small sampling of resources available at HSP, including personal papers of soldiers; papers from families affected by war; accounts kept by commanders, medical personnel, and provisioners; and published resources.
Please refer to our online catalog for more information about the books, images, journals, manuscripts, maps, and other items in HSP's collection. You can also contact a Reference Librarian for further assistance.
French and Indian War; Other Pre-Revolutionary Wars
HSP also has a large number of published resources related to the Revolutionary War. Search in our online catalogfor terms like "revolutionary," "revolution," "Continental Army," "battalions," "provincial," "loyalist," and other related topics to explore HSP's published holdings. Resources include:
American State Papers: Military Affairs [7 vols.]. (Ref J 33 .A48 FOLIO)
Berg, Fred A. Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units: Battalions, Regiments and Independent Corps. (Ref E 259 .B47 1972)
Blair, John, et al, eds. Pennsylvania in the Revolution: Battalions and Line: 1775-1793. (Ref E 263 .P4 L75 1880)
DAR Patriot Index [3 vols.]. (Ref E 202.5 .D38 1990)
Greene, Robert E. Black Courage 1775-1783. (Ref E 269 .N3 G74 1987)
Hessiche Truppen [or the Hetrina List in 5 vols.]. (Ref E 268 .M37 1972 FOLIO)
Katcher, Philip R.N. Encyclopedia of British Provincial and German Army Units 1775-1783. (Ref E 267 .K37 1973)
Minority Military Service 1776-1783 [New England]. (Ref E 263 .C5 M56 1988)
HSP also holds a large number of published resources related to the Civil War. Try searching in our online catalog for subject terms like "Civil War," "Union," "Confederate," "Confederacy," and other related terms. You can also contact a Reference Librarian for further assistance.
The Knepper brothers letters discuss U.S. naval operations during the Spanish-American War and the U.S. conquest of the Philippines that followed. The diary of Alfred H. Whitaker includes detailed information about his military service in San Francisco and the Philippines in 1898 and 1899, including a handful of photographs.
Various published holdings can be found in HSP's online catalog by searching for terms like "Spanish-American War" and "Philippines."
The U.S. Army Military History Institute has an extensive military history library, and its collection relates to the history of not only the U.S. Army, but also the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, reserve components, and foreign militaries.