If you read the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine
article on Civil War ancestors, you know Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) records are a promising resource—some 40 percent of Union veterans joined their local GAR posts.
But you also know the GAR wasn’t a centralized organization, and post records are dispersed among state archives and historical societies (sometimes with microfilmed copies at the Family History Library
), with sporadic indexes.
GAR help is here: Missouri historian Dennis Northcott is compiling a book series transcribing information from GAR death rolls
. The three books he’s published so far include name, military unit and rank, death date, and post information for 90,000 GAR members in several Midwestern states: Illinois; Indiana; and Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. (Note if your ancestor moved, he would've joined a post in his new state, not the state from which he served.) Now Northcott's working on Ohio and Pennsylvania.
He's posted all the names from the series on his Web site
. If you think you've found your ancestor, you can order the book ($30) or look for it at your library.
Armed with the GAR post location and information from the bibliographies in Northcott’s books, you can start your search for GAR rosters, meeting minutes and other records.
For more research resources, see our online Civil War genealogy roundup