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Researching Forts at Archives I

by on July 15, 2011


A common research topic concerns information on military installations, i.e., forts, camps, depots, barracks, etc.  Generally, the bulk of the records we have relate to permanent installations, but we do have a few records pertaining to some temporary posts.

Records relating to military installations can be found in a number of different record groups in our custody at Archives I.  The materials range from information about the buildings within a fort to data about the lands surrounding it.  There are also records dealing with Army administrative functions; activities at an installation; and troops stationed at various forts.  As you will see below, there are a number of avenues you may wish to take in pursuing your research.

The following records serve as good resources for research with regard to forts, camps, and other installations.  Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and as such, there may be a number of other series that could potentially provide supplemental information. 

  • Record Group [RG] 77, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers
    • Land Papers, 1794-1916 (RG 77, NM-19, entry 171, ARC ID 612240)
      • Arranged by State, thereunder by installation
    • DeGrange Index, 1789-1889 (RG 77, NM-19, entry 291, ARC ID 613604)
      • Arranged alphabetically by name of installation or subject
    • Correspondence
      • Letters Received, 1826-1866 (RG 77, NM-19, entry 18, ARC ID 603510)
        • Arranged by time period, thereunder alphabetically by initial letter of correspondent’s surname, thereunder numerically
      • Letters Received [re: fortifications], 1866-1867 (RG 77, NM-19, entry 33, ARC ID 604343)
        • Arranged alphabetically by initial letter of correspondent’s surname, thereunder numerically
      • Letters Received Relating to Fortifications, 1886-1887 (RG 77, NM-19, entry 76, ARC ID 606302)
        • Arranged by year, thereunder numerically
      • General Correspondence, 1890-1892 (RG 77, NM-19, entry 96, ARC ID 606328)
        • Arranged by year, thereunder numerically
      • General Correspondence, 1894-1923 (RG 77, NM-19, entry 103, ARC ID 589600)
        • Arranged by file number
  • RG 92, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General
    • Consolidated Correspondence File, 1794-1890 (RG 92, NM-81, entry 225, ARC ID 300350)
      • Arranged alphabetically by name or subject
    • Records relating to Construction and Repair, Barracks and Quarters, 1819-1912 (various series, mainly entries 1037-1081)
      • Various arrangements
  • RG 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office
    • Reservation File, early 1800s-1916 (RG 94, PI-17, entry 464, ARC ID 610175)
      • Arranged alphabetically by name of fort
    • Returns of Military Posts, early 1800s-1916 (Microfilm publication, #M617)
      • Arranged alphabetically by name of post
    • Medical Histories of Posts, 1868-1913 (RG 94, PI-17, entry 547, ARC ID 655764)
      • Arranged by volume number
    •  “Historical Information Relating to Military Posts and Other Installations, 1700-1900” (Microfilm publication #M661)
      • Arranged alphabetically by name of post
  • RG 153, Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General
    • Reservation File, 1809-1942 (RG 153, PC-29, entries 56 and 56A, ARC ID 599520)
      • Arranged by State, thereunder by name of post
  • RG 156, Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance
    • Records relating to Ordnance Property, 1808-1939 (various series, mainly entries 98-119)
      • Various arrangements
  • RG 393, Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands
    • Part 5, Military Installations (Established forts)
      • Arranged alphabetically by name of fort
    • Part 4, Military Installations (Temporary forts)
      • Arranged by type of installatio

Additionally, there are two published resources that researchers should consider consulting.  They are:

  • Forts of the United States: An Historical Dictionary, 16th through 19th Centuries, by Bud Hannings
  • Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, by Robert Roberts

For more information, researchers can contact the Archives I Reference Section via our email address at archives1reference@nara.gov.  Please note that while our small reference staff cannot perform extensive research for interested researchers, we are always happy to provide guidance about these and other records.


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