Saturday, February 18, 2023

My Veteran: National Guard or Army / Navy Reserve: How to Research?

President Day 
Did you know 31 of the 46 American Presidents served in the Military? Many served in the state militia. Those records are held at the state level so researchers will want to reach out to their State Archives or Secretary of State archival records. 

Few of our American presidents served in the National Guard, or Army Reserve. Although like Millard Fillmore, the 13th U.S. President, born in 1800, served in units that melded into the National Guard or Army Reserve. Too old to fight, but seasoned enough, Fillmore commanded the Buffalo (NY) Union Continentals, a "corps of male home guards" over the age of 45. Did your ancestors join Fillmore's efforts in the Civil War? 

Perhaps your ancestor, like the following Presidents served in the National Guard: 
George W. Bush, Texas Air National Guard. 

President Truman served in both the Missouri National Guard and received his commission as a Major in the Officers’ Reserve Corps (1920), Colonel: Field Artillery Reserve (1953). 

Or did your ancestor served in the US Reserve, as did the following U. S. Presidents?
  1. Harry S. Truman, Colonel, US Army Reserve
  2. John F. Kennedy, Lieutenant, US Navy Reserve
  3. Lyndon B. Johnson, Commander, US Navy Reserve
  4. Richard Nixon, Commander, US Navy Reserve
  5. Gerald Ford, Lieutenant Commander, US Navy Reserve
  6. Ronald Reagan, Captain, US Navy Reserve
  7. George H. Bush, Lieutenant, US Navy Reserve
Finding your veteran's US Navy/Army Reserve and National Guard records, starts with understanding the history of both. 

Where Are the Records?
Learning the record group and it's history, can help the family historian uncover their ancestors' national guard and army reserve records.

The Army National Guard was established 13 Dec 1636.  The oldest Army National Guard was established in Massachusetts from militia regiments. The Massachusetts Army National Guard. 

As you already know, the National Archives - St Louis, commonly referred to as the National Personnel Record Center (NPRC) houses the records of our  ancestors called into active Federal military service post Civil War.  It is here that you will use the SF-180 form to uncover your veteran's active Federal military service.

However, if they were not called into active Federal military service, your veterans' records are held at the State level.  Each state has an Adjutant General. These state records include both the Army and Air National Guard units not on active duty. 

For these state records, we suggest starting with the State Historical Society or Secretary of State websites. Following are both examples: 

Kansas National Guard Records

We have found it best to just use a search engine for "adjutant general" plus the state in your search bar. Many will be listed on the Secretary of State website or a State Historical: 

Missouri State Guard Records by Unit, 1812 -  WWI

New Jersey is an example where early guard units merged with state's militia. Again, these records, with the finding aids, are mentioned on the NJ State Department. 
New Jersey National Guard records

If all else fails, contact the Adjutant Generals' office. They can guide researchers to the archived records.   

The Army Reserve began 23 Apr 1908 under the Congress' named auspices Medical Reserve Corps. These records are held in St. Louis.  Like other military records, use the SF180 form to obtain copies of your veteran's Army Reserve records.

The New York Times, New York, New York, 30 Nov 1908,

Here is a quick synopsis of the historical formation of present-day  Army Reserve. 

Initially, in 1908 Congress created the Medical Reserve Corps, the official predecessor of the Army Reserve. Subsequently, using its constitutional authority to “raise and support armies,” through the National Defense Act of 1916 and the sweeping changes to that law in the National Defense Act Amendments of 1920, the federal government created the Organized Reserve. Redesignated as the Organized Reserve Corps in 1948, the new force served into the 1950s to provide a peacetime pool of trained reserve officers and enlisted men for use in war. This manpower reserve existed as the officer cadre for as many as 27 reserve infantry divisions and 6 reserve cavalry divisions located across the nation. It also included the Officers’ Reserve Corps, Enlisted Reserve Corps, and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. (Army Reserve: A Concise History)

We know the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) presently are state -driven community based units. This is NOT the federal Organized Reserve Corps. However, the Medical Reserve Corps was a highly touted service organization.  Be sure to search the local newspapers for your ancestors' name. 

       The Burlington (VT) Free Press, 15 Dec 1917, pg 11

Looking for a More Robust History of the Army Reserve? 
Visit the US Army Reserve Official Website

Other Resources

Army Reserve: A Concise History

I Am the Guard: A History of the Army National Guard, 1636-2000

National Guard

Kathleen Brandt
Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

No comments:

Post a Comment