California Military Records

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Template:Adoption CA State Genealogical Alliance

Many military records are at the Family History Library, the National Archives, and other federal and state archives. The United States Military Records Wiki article provides more information on federal military records and search strategies. For California the following sources are especially helpful:


800px-Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point 2009b.jpg

War of 1812

Gibson, Nancy Brigham California State Society lineage book : National Society, United States Daughters of 1812 ( Culiman, Alabama:  Gregath, c 1991) pages 271 FHL Book 979.4 D2

Mexican War (1846-1848)

The Mexican War was caused by the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845. Most volunteer regiments were from southern states. Records of Mexican War veterans might exist in a state where the veteran later resided.

  • Mexican War Index to Pension Files, 1887–1926. (NARA T317). FHL films 0537000–13 Alphabetically arranged and includes the veteran’s name, rank, and unit; names of dependents; date of filing and application; certificate numbers; act filed under; and state from which application was made. Also available at:

Civil War (1861-1865)

Fort Point, San Francisco, California

See California in the Civil War for information about California Civil War records, web sites, etc. with links to articles about the California regiments involved in the Civil War.

The regimental pages often include lists of the companies with links to the counties where the companies started. Men in the companies often lived in the counties where the companies were raised. Knowing a county can help when researching more about the soldiers and their families.

The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System allows name searching for soldiers. The result set gives the regiments for the soldiers. Then you can check the Wiki regiment pages to determine counties. Often knowing the counties that had men in a regiment will help you determine if a soldier was your ancestor.

Indian Wars (1780s-1890s)

  • Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During Indian Wars and Disturbances, 1815-1858 (Family History Library films 882753-94).
  • Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798-1914 (beginning on Family History Library film 350307).
  • Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926 (Family History Library films 821603-09).
  • Pension Index Files, Indian Wars, 1892-1926 (Family History Library films 821610-21).

Spanish-American War (1898)

The California State Archives has military records from the California Adjutant General's office dating from 1849 to 1945. These include records of California volunteers in the Spanish-American War. (FHL film 981554-55)

World War I (1917-1918)



Draft Records

  • United States. Selective Service System. California. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1509. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1987-1988. (Beginning on Family History Library film 1530652) These cards have been digitized and are searchable online. See WWI Draft Records for more information.

Service Records

  • California, WWI Soldier Service Cards and Photos, 1917-1918 (Ancestry) ($) - Service cards may include service number, name, address, birthdate, race, years in California, birthplace, father's name and birthplace, mother's maiden name and birthplace, wife's maiden name, date of marriage, children, nearest relative, branch of service, place and date of registration, and place assigned. The biography on the next image also asks for the the signature, date and address of the person writing the biography.
Note - A brief biography of the individual is usually included on the next image. Also, photos were not indexed and the collection only has photos for surnames beginning with BAL-BON. The complete photo collection is available in the collection below.

World War II (1941-1945)

Additional Records

The California State Archives has military records from the California Adjutant General's office dating from 1849 to 1945. These include papers of the California Militia from 1850 to 1916, registers of California Volunteers in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars, records of California National Guard Units, and enlistment records from World War I and World War II. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of some of these records from 1858 to 1923 (FHL various film numbers) (35 rolls). Records from World War I that include name, biographical, geographical, and newspaper card files are on the last 17 rolls of this set.

Web Sites


  • Encyclopedia of Indian Wars Western Battles and Skirmishes 1850-1890. by Gregory F. Michno. Mountain Press publishing Co., Missoula, Montana C. 2003 ISBN 0-87842-468-7

California. (originally published as a research outline.)Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2003.