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Genealogy: Military & Wars

This guide will help you with the genealogical resources we have here in Murphy Library and direct you to other places and links for further information.

UW Digital Collections Center

 Wisconsin Goes to War : Our Civil War Experience

Wisconsin Goes to War: Our Civil War Experience is a collection of first person narrative accounts of Wisconsin soldiers and citizens. Through their letters, diaries, poems and other records, we learn about the state's contributions to the Union victory that cost the lives of over 12,000 of the state's men. The collections were originally selected for digitization among those of the Wisconsin Historical Society for use by Civil War history courses taught at UW Oshkosh. These records were chosen based on the subject matter and legibility of the documents. The original UW Oshkosh digital project has now been reconceived and enhanced by the UWDC to provide for greater operability and discovery.

Many of the included documents are handwritten while others consist of a typed transcription for which originals may or may not be available. 

The first phase of the collection consists of 630 pages of materials dating from the years 1861 – 1866. When the entire project is completed it will consist of over 2600 pages of original Civil War documents.

 Wisconsin Goes to War

Wisconsin Goes to War brings together primary and secondary materials which highlight the history of the people of Wisconsin during wartime, including of stories of those serving at home or overseas, and also how it affected life back home. The materials included in this rich collection are the result of UW–Madison Libraries' partnerships with public libraries and historical societies throughout Wisconsin, some funded by federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants administered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with the preservation and documentation of government and historical records. It is also tasked with increasing public access to those documents which make up the National Archive. Click here for genealogist resources, tips, and assistance for a start to your family history. 

  • Access to Military Service and Pension RecordsThe National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository for records of military personnel who have been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard. Paper copies of military service and pension records can be ordered by mail from the facility which holds the records.
  • Military Personnel RecordsThe National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) is the repository of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century. (Records prior to WWI are in Washington, DC.) NPRC (MPR) also stores medical treatment records of retirees from all services, as well as records for dependent and other persons treated at naval medical facilities. Information from the records is made available upon written request (with signature and date) to the extent allowed by law. This site is provided for those seeking information regarding military personnel, health and medical records stored at NPRC (MPR).

Wisconsin Historical Society Civil War Resources

Wisconsin's Involvement in the Civil WarThe Wisconsin Historical Society offers extensive historical research resources including help for researching topics, primary documents, essays, battle summaries, regimental stories, and veteran census enumeration information. 

Wisconsin's Civil War Roster and Regimental Descriptive Rolls: The Wisconsin Historical Society provides assistance and tips for researching soldier ancestors with alphabetical and regimental indexes. 

Wisconsin Veterans Affairs

The Wisconsin Veteran's Museum, located in downtown Madison, WI, has the mission to acknowledge, commemorate, and affirm the role of Wisconsin veterans in the United States of America's military past and present.  The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is an educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, and has special research resources, tools, and assistance. 

Other online resources

Find A Grave: Find a Grave is a site to look for burial and other final disposition information for family, friends and other people. The site provides tools that let people from all over the world work together, share information and build an online, virtual cemetery experience.

This site gives details about cemeteries and individual memorials for people buried in those cemeteries. Memorials generally include birth, death and burial information and may include pictures, biographies, family information and more. 

The National Park Service offers research assistance for service records of soldiers, North and South, contained in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System contains just an index of the men who served in the Civil War with only rudimentary information from the service records (including name, rank and unit in which they served). The full service records are housed at the National Archives and Records Administration. For information about obtaining copies of those records, click here using the film number listed in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System record.