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GAR Records
The Grand Army of the Republic in Michigan

The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was the first truly national veterans organization in the country. Membership was limited to veterans of the American Civil War who served as soldiers, sailors or marines during 1861-1865.

The structure included the National Organization, State level organizations known as Departments and local units known as Posts. All members belonged to a Post. The Post usually met twice a month. Delegates represented the Post at annual meetings of the Department known as Encampments. The Department Encampment elected delegates to attend the annual National Encampments.

Those seeking membership completed applications stating their background and military service. Upon acceptance this information was recorded in a Post Descriptive Book. Financial records, including payment of dues and other related information were kept. Many Posts purchased, or were presented, large bound volumes known as Memorial Books. A page was provided for each member and contained personal background information and the reminiscences of the member about his military service and his closest friends in the service and obituary comments upon his death. Minute Books contain the history of the actions and activities of the Post.

All of the above noted materials are “one of a kind” records. The Post was not required to file copies of this material elsewhere.

Each Post filed Quarterly Reports (later semi-annual, and finally annual reports) of new members, suspensions, drops, transfers and deaths of their members. The Department copies of these reports are found at the State of Michigan Archives. Department headquarters were located in the Capitol Building in Lansing from 1897 to 1956.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is the heir and successor organization to the Grand Army of the Republic. We are chartered by Act of Congress and are one of the five Allied Orders of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Among the charges given to us by the GAR was that we were to preserve and make available, for research, the records of their Order and information on all who served during the Civil War. In this fashion we would keep alive the memory of the sacrifices they made to secure the future of the country and keep green their memory in the eyes of the nation.


Among the key objectives of this committee is to do a complete county by county search for materials of the type described. 

The results of this activity will lead to the development of a definitive list, by Post, of the surviving records by type, their location and information on a contact person for research purposes. 

It is hoped that whenever possible that we will be allowed to make copies of these “one of a kind” materials to assure that the contents of the records are not lost. Copies can then be placed in several locations for preservation. There is no way that these materials could be reconstructed if the originals are lost.

We need to create awareness that in those instances where the holders of these records decide to dispose of them, that they call us first. They need to know that someone is interested in maintaining this important portrait of our history for future generations.

Anyone having information on the location of GAR records, or questions about the project are asked to contact the Chairman:

Gary L. Gibson, PDC


G.A.R. Records Officer

Department of Michigan, SUVCW


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Grand Army of the Republic Links



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  Last updated on December 22, 2009 6:32 PM - webmaster