Thursday, October 27, 2011

Research: Massachusetts National Guard Museum and Archives

Worcester Armory, 1891

Today I thought I might try to change the pace a little.  This will be my first of several posts devoted to research.  If you are looking for more information (as am I) about the 30th Massachusetts, or a relative who served with them, then this is a post that you might find very helpful.

Perhaps the best place to begin your search for more information on a relative is at the Massachusetts National Guard Museum and Archives.  This facility houses the better part (if not all) of Massachusetts' military documents pertaining to units and soldiers ranging from 1775-1940.  As they say, they have items from soldiers' live and material culture, and also the archives of the Office of the Adjutant General.

When I contacted the Museum about a year ago I was helped by a very friendly and knowledgeable staff.  The down side is simply that I live in Virginia, and the museum itself is in Worcester, MA.  This meant that at least for the time being I had to conduct all of my business through the phone and through email.  I know the staff there must be very busy, so I am quite grateful that they were able to send me so much useful information.  You should be advised that the fastest way to research would be to go there in person.

I have been told the following items are available concerning the 30th Massachusetts:

Box of Enlistments for the 30th.
Morning Report Book, 30th Inf 2 Dec 1861 - 9 Dec 1862
Regimental Order Book, 17 Nov 1861 - 22 Jan 1863
Muster in & Muster Out bound rolls
Routine correspondence for the 30th.

The box of enlistments will have all sorts of information that you will find helpful in researching an ancestor.  Usually it will contain the basics such as where & when the person enlisted, along with occupation, information on their mother, father, & sometimes a spouse.  You may also come across a physical description of the person here (or possibly in a separate descriptive roll).  Unfortunately in the case of my relative the original enlistment form is nowhere to be found, but some information does exist about his reenlistment.

The muster rolls of one form or another tend to cover the company business of who is present/absent and special orders and notations for most of the men.  Each muster roll usually covers about a 2 month time frame, and the pages are extremely large!  Don't expect to be able to get a nice compact photo copy of these rolls, you might do best with certain smaller sections the come from microfilm.

The Morning Report Book & Regimental Orders books will cover all sorts of special (though usually mundane for the men) happenings, orders, and lists of every little detail that the military tends to record.  Couple these with the correspondence and you will have a lot of information to sort through.  It should come out well worth it.  You might come across the report of a guard that was stationed the night before and find a relative's name being assigned to the list.  You might also find inventories, invoices, or equipment issues that may also show what is being issued to some of the men.  As of the last time I inquired, records for your relative (in small amounts of specific information) will be provided free of charge.  Just to be sure, you should ask in case the policy has changed.

As you can see from the list above, the books and rolls do not cover the entire time the 30th was in service.  What happened to the rest?  I am sorry to say that I don't have an answer for this myself.  They could have been misfiled, lost, burned in a fire, captured by the enemy, or even in a personal collection that may never see the light of day.  I personally hope they are just misfiled and may again turn up.

National Guard Museum and Archives
44 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
Phone: (508) 797-0334

Please note that on their website they advise "Researchers  should call at least one day in advance."

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