The Spanish American War is most likely the last of the conflicts where National Archives Records Administration (NARA) microfilm records on those who served is readily available. The two main films are the "General Index to Complied Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War with Spain, 1898-1901" (M871); and the "Index to Compiled Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Philippine Insurrection" (M872).
The first microfilm series, M871, contains 126 rolls and is a comprehensive index that identifies volunteer soldiers regardless of their military units. These are films of index cards and each card lists the person's name, rank and unit in which they served. You will also find a separate index for each state and for special units that participated in the Spanish American War.
The second microfilm series, M872, contains 24 rolls and includes many miscellaneous records. Some are news clippings and there printed reports as well as original documents.
Additional pertinent information can also be found in pension records for time period. Spanish American War pension files are listed in the "General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934" (T288) and contains 544 individual rolls of microfilm. This too is a film of index cards; but it is arranged alphabetically by the surname of the veteran. In addition to the person's name, you will find if they registered a dependent, which could be a spouse, parent or children. Service dates are included as well as application numbers; and, if a claim was approved there will also be a certificate number.
Once you have that application number, you can contact NARA for photocopies of the file. The cost will depend on the number of pages in the file; but, I always recommend you get a copy of the entire file. You can now go online to order copies of records from NARA:
If your local library does not have copies of these microfilm rolls, contact your nearest Family History Center (FHC) operated by the Church of Latter Day Saints. If they do not have it on hand, they will order it from one of their other centers and the cost is usually very small for the rental.
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Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2004.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
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