Genealogists and family historians get excited about finding veteran ancestors because this means there will be many sources available for research and potential clues. My time spent at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has certainly exposed me to the sheer size of possibilities for records relating to military research and genealogy. At times, it can be complicated to conduct this type of research. The more I’ve learned about it, the more I realize how challenging it is for beginners to sort out the administrative hierarchy and record groupings at NARA.
In the genealogy world, most of us have been introduced to the Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR), Pensions, and Bounty Land Warrant Applications. Even as these important collections are bountiful in number and usefulness for genealogists, this two-part post intends to shed light on other original records that are not talked about as much to help with military research. This post is themed around medical records and records related to disabled veterans. In all, it demonstrates the enormous possibilities for mining genealogical information in military records.
Carded Medical Records – The National Archives holds a separate series of hospitalization records for regular and volunteer soldiers. They look a lot like the cards used in CMSRs. Only in some cases has this information been extracted by the War Department and included on a soldier’s CMSR, so these should be consulted for additional information about your ancestor’s experience while serving. These medical cards include the hospital or station where they were admitted, cause of admission, and treatment. They are filed with Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, RG 94 and are dated 1821-84 and 1894-1912. These are only available at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. and can be requested if you know the soldier’s name, company, and regiment.
Records of United States National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers – The National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers were established by Congress in 1866 [14 Stat.10] to provide residence to needy veterans. The National Archives has records of homes from 1866-1938 in Records of The Veterans Administration, RG 15. Most of the historical home registers survive which include a lot of genealogical information including birth place, physical description, religion, residence subsequent to discharge, name and address of nearest relative, medical history, date of death, place of burial, military service, and remarks by the administration. These records are indexed and can be viewed on FamilySearch.org.
Home Register for Michael J. McDonnell, Togus Branch (Togus, ME), National Home for Disabled Volunteers. 
Records of the U.S. Soldier’s Home – Before National Homes for Disabled Volunteers in 1866, Congress established the first institution for taking care of needy veterans of the regular army in 1851 with the United States Military Asylum, later known as the U.S. Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home. Records of these homes are grouped under Records of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, RG 231. Amongst the sources that hold the most genealogical value are case files for deceased inmates, death records, hospital records, burial registers and admission registers. Most records are dated from the establishment of the Soldier’s Home in 1851 up to 1943. These are only available for research at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. When researching records of veteran homes, researchers should know the soldier’s name, home to which they were admitted and approximate date of admission or discharge.
Records of Artificial Limbs Provided To Civil War and Later Veterans – The Civil War would result in the performance of amputations on about 60,000 soldiers. In 1862, Congress authorized the Army’s Surgeon General to purchase artificial limbs for soldiers and seamen. Records related to artificial limbs for veterans are in Records of the Veteran’s Administration, RG 15 and include registers of persons furnished artificial limbs and commutation, as well as letters sent to veterans, physicians, and manufacturers. Most series are self-indexed and date from 1862-1927. These records are not online and only available at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C.
Disabled Soldier with Artificial Arm Working in Shop. 
Medical Registers of Examinations of Recruits and Substitutes – In 1862, the U.S. War Department established the post of Provost Marshal General, a year later becoming a separate government bureau. The Provost Marshal was responsible for making sure the Union met enlistment quotas for the armed forces. To make sure recruits were fit for service, each person underwent a medical examination and these results was recorded by the Provost Marshal. You may have searched Civil War Draft Registrations on Ancestry.com, but these medical examinations are actually a separate series and not available in this online collection. Most are still in original form at branches of the National Archives. The most interesting pieces of information are found under the Provost Marshal’s remarks for each recruit who described any illnesses or physical ailments and would subsequently note if the recruit was accepted or rejected. The medical examinations are in Records of the Provost Marshal’s General Bureau, RG 110 and volumes are organized by congressional district. To find what congressional district your ancestor’s county belonged to, consult the Congressional Directory for the Second Session of the Thirty‑eighth Congress of the United States of America. Draft registrations and medical examinations for the Civil War are dispersed throughout NARA’s regional facilities. For ancestor’s who served after the Civil War, Records of the Adjutant General, RG 94, contains a separate collection with reports of medical examination of recruits, 1884-1912.
1890 U.S. Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War – The regular population schedule of the 1890 U.S. Census was destroyed by fire, but if your ancestor served in the Union, you may be able to bridge the gap. The government fortunately did a special population schedule for Union veterans and widows, which survived in the states of Kentucky through Wyoming. The census questions include name and service information such as company, unit, time of enlistment, time of discharge, length of service, Post Office address, and disabilities incurred, which can be helpful in understanding your ancestor’s life post-war. This particular source was helpful in proving the kinship of my second great-grandparents because both their fathers appear next to each other on this particular census. The 1890 Union Veterans Census is fully available on FamilySearch.org.
These sources should be used in conjunction with the soldier’s CMSR and pension/bounty land applications to obtain the most complete set of documentation of a veteran’s personal experience in the war and after. To inquire with the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. about finding your veteran ancestor in collections that are not online, contact the Old Military and Civil Reference Department at [email protected]. As you can tell, there are many possibilities for researchers to flesh out the details of their veteran ancestor’s life. Next post will focus on government publications and other personnel records. Stay tuned!
 Except for miscellaneous returns, the census pages for Alabama through Kansas do not survive.
 Image Source: FamilySearch.org
 Image Source: "Internet Archive Book Images," Flickr.com
Jake Fletcher is a professional genealogist, educator and blogger. Jake has been researching and writing about his ancestors since 2008 on his research blog. He currently volunteers as a research assistant at the National Archives in Waltham, Massachusetts and is Vice President of the New England Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG).