Gale Family Library

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St. Paul, MN 55102
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FAQ - Veterans' Grave Registrations

 

About Veteran's Grave Registrations Online

Q: What are the Veteran's Grave Registrations?
They are records of military veterans buried in Minnesota cemeteries, as reported to the Minnesota Adjutant General and then the Minnesota Department of Veteran's Affairs.  
 
Q: What is the history of the Veterans Graves Registration Program?
In 1927, the Minnesota Adjutant General was given responsibility to maintain a permanent registry of the graves of all persons who served in the military or naval forces of the United States and whose mortal remains were buried in Minnesota. In 1943, this responsibility was transferred to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. In 1947, the funeral director overseeing the burial was required to complete the form and forward it to the state. In 1969, this graves registration program was eliminated from the duties of the Veterans Affairs Department, although some counties' officials—mainly Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Ramsey, and Swift—and the Fort Snelling Cemetery continued to submit reports until about 1975. The extant records total approximately 70,000 forms.
 
According to the law, forms had to be submitted only for veterans who were buried between 1927 and 1969. However, many county veterans officers or interested individuals submitted reports for veterans buried in Minnesota prior to 1927. Thus, many Civil War and Spanish-American War veterans who died long before 1927 are included. However, it must be stressed that these reports are not comprehensive; not every veteran buried in Minnesota is represented in this index.
 
Q: How can I search for a Veterans' Graves Registration Report online?
Use either PeopleFinder or Search MNHS Research Materials to search a variety of records.   To search just Veterans' Grave Records in either system, there are two options:

Search First:

  1. Enter your search term in the "New Search" box at the top of the page and click search.
  2. Click on the arrow next to "Narrow by Collection" in the left-hand column of filters.  
  3. Then, click on the plus sign next to Veterans Grave Index.   

Filter First:

  1. Click on the arrow next to "Narrow by Collection" in the left-hand column of filters.  
  2. Click on the plus sign next to Veterans Grave Index.  
  3. Enter your search term in Term box, located under the "Your Search" heading in the left-hand column.
  4. Click on the Search button
Note: To stop using a filter, click the grey x next to the filter name.  To start a completely fresh search--one with no filters--just click the xs next to all the active filters OR click on the "Start a New Search" button.
 
Q: What will the online index tell me?
The index generally provides the veteran’s first and last name, frequently with the middle initial or full middle name(s); the date of death; the county of burial, and the war(s) in which the veteran served. If the veteran did not serve in a war (or no war was noted on the form), the index will return an entry of “Unspecified.”
 
Q: Which veterans are included in the search?
Veterans buried in MN cemeteries, who served in the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Indian Wars (including the US-Dakota War and other 19th century engagements), Spanish-American War, Philippine American War, Boxer Rebellion, Boer War, Mexican Border War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam War, as well as some military veterans that did not serve in a war.  The index includes veterans who died between 1857 and 1975, but the bulk of them are from 1927-1969. 
 
This database does not include all veterans ever buried in Minnesota, only those for whom a report was filed. If a report was filed with the Adjutant General/Department of Veterans Affairs, there will be an index entry. 
If a report was not filed--even if a particular veteran would have qualified for inclusion--there will not be an index entry. Unlike records kept at Fort Snelling, this search includes only veterans; spouses are not included unless s/he was also a veteran.
 
Q: Which wars are represented in the Veterans' Graves Registration Index?
  • War of 1812 (1812-1814) 
  • Mexican War (1846-1848) 
  • Civil War (1861-1865) 
  • Indian conflicts in the 19th century (includes the US-Dakota War) 
  • Spanish-American War (1898)
  • Philippine American War (1899-1902)
  • Boxer Rebellion (1900)
  • Boer War (1899-1902)
  • Mexican Border War (1916-1917)
  • World War I "WWI" (1914-1918)
  • World War II "WWII" (1939-1945)
  • Korean War (1950-1953)
  • Vietnam War (1964-1975)
Q: What information is on a Veterans' Graves Registration Report?
When completely filled out, each veteran’s grave registration report contains the full first, middle, and last name of the veteran; date and place of enlistment; serial number, rank, and unit of the veteran; date and place of discharge; legal residence; date and place of birth (usually including the city, county, and state or country); date and place of death (usually including the city, county, and state or country); cause of death; name and address of next of kin; date and place of burial; name of the cemetery and location of the grave. Frequently, the name and address of the funeral director will also be included.
 
The  completeness of each report varies. In particular, pre-1927 reports filled out retrospectively--including Civil War veterans' reports--may be very complete and may even contain additional details about military service and other aspects of the veterans' lives, or they may consist only of the name and grave location of the veteran. 
 
Here are two examples of Veterans' Graves Registration Reports:

 

Search Tips

Visit our Search Help: People Finder page for general search tips and then try these special hints that apply to Veterans' Graves records: 
  • To search just Veterans' Grave records in either system, use the “Veterans Grave Index” filter in the Narrow by Collection list on the left side of the screen. 
  • Try alternate spellings. Names may have been spelled differently, and the reports and index reflect the spelling used at the time the report was submitted. 
  • The forms and index generally reference the county of burial, which may be different than the veteran's county of residence or death.  However, occasionally they were filed in the county in which the funeral director was headquartered or in which the decedent resided. If you don't find a record under the expected county, try using a Narrow by Place filter to search neighboring/nearby counties or remove the place filter to search all counties.   
  • Fort Snelling National Cemetery (indicated as “Fort Snelling”), appears in the index as if it were a county, but some Fort Snelling burials were filed in Hennepin County instead.
  • Make full use of options like SoundEx and wildcards (? and #).  
  • The date mentioned in the index is the date of death, not the year the report was filed.  Adjust the date or range of dates using the filter.  Be aware that if no year of death appears in the index for a particular record, entering a specific year or range of years will exclude it from results lists.
  • The researcher also may limit the search to a specific county or counties of burial. All 87 Minnesota counties are represented in index as well as 
  • Notice that your results are sorted by "Closest Match" by default.  You can switch to two different chronological sorts (oldest first or newest first) and this can make browsing easier. 
Q: How do I search for a married female veteran whose military service was under her maiden name?
The veterans are indexed under their legal names at the time of death, which can vary from the name used at the time of service, particularly for women.  In other words, women veterans are usually found by using their married names.  
 
Q: What is SoundEx?
Soundex is an indexing system based on how a surname sounds rather than how it is spelled, so it enables one-step searching for variant spellings of a names.  For example, using Soundex on Anderson would return results like Andreson, Andersen, Anderstrom, Andreason, Anderton.  SoundEx is based on the first letter of the last name, so it is crucial that this letter is known and has been correctly transcribed from documents. 
 
Q: How do I use SoundEx?
Our search systems have SoundEx filtering capability, but it is important to note that this is NOT the same as a straight-forward SoundEx search in other systems. 
 
To search using SoundEx on a last name:
  • Search for a name--first, last, or full--in the main search box. 
  • Click on in the left-hand column.  
  • If you do not see the name you are seeking, click on Show More under the short list of names.       
  • Find the last name from the list and click the  button next to it.  
  • If you used a last or full name for your search, erase the last name from the "Term" box in the Your Search area at the top of the left-hand column. Then click the search button.

  • You can now add other filters, search terms, etc. in the left-hand column.  As long as there is a "Family Name Soundex" filter listed in the "Your Search" area, the SoundEx filter will be applied.
  • To remove the SoundEx filter, click the x next to it.  

       
 
Q: Can MNHS staff research Veterans' Grave records for me?
We can help you place an order if you are having difficulty and we are more than happy to give you search advice, but regretfully we do not have the staff or resources to do in-depth research for our patrons.   
 

Ordering Help 

Q: How can I order a copy of a Veterans' Grave Report?
Order a copy directly through either the PeopleFinder or Search MNHS online search systems.  Click on the “buy” button to select and then order through our online store.  The cost is $9, plus any applicable sales tax.  You will receive a confirmation email for your order, and your record copy will be sent to you via US Mail within 30 business days. If you opt to mail your payment, we will process your order after it arrives.
 
Q; Can I see a Veterans' Grave Report without paying for it?
Yes!  Researchers can view the reports in their original format in the Gale Family Library’s Weyerhaeuser Reading Room.  On-site researchers may have copies made for a per-page fee, as listed on the Copy Services Price List

 

Unusual Circumstances

Q: Why can’t I find a Veterans' Graves Registration Report that I know should be there?
  • Not every veteran buried in Minnesota is represented.  This is especially true for burials before 1927 and after 1969.  Although reports were supposed to be completed for all Minnesota veteran burials that occurred between 1927 and 1969, some reports simply were not forwarded to the state. 
  • Incomplete or incorrect original record: People providing the information often forgot to include certain pieces of data or provided incorrect information.
  • Transcription errors: Creating a database index is not exact science and mistakes can be made when people type in information, especially if the original record has poor handwriting. If you suspect an error, please see "What should I do if I find an error in the index?"
  • The index includes only military veterans who are buried in Minnesota. It does not include veterans who enlisted from Minnesota, who resided in Minnesota, or who died in Minnesota if they are buried outside the state. This index also does not include Minnesota veterans who were buried in American cemeteries on other continents.
Q: Can veterans that are not listed in the Registration Reports be added to the search?
No.  Since this index covers a specific set of records, the Minnesota Historical Society cannot add veterans or any other data that are not contained in the original reports.
 
Q: What should I do if I find an error in the index?
If you find a transcription or indexing error (as opposed to an error on the certificate itself), please leave a user comment describing the problem.  MNHS staff will look at the comment and original record, and make the necessary changes.  
 
Please Note: Not all errors can be corrected. Information that is present in original records cannot be changed in the index, even if it is incorrect.  However, if you suspect that the original record's nformation was incomplete or incorrect please leave a user comment, anyway.  User comments are searchable and can help other researchers.  
 

Other Sources of Information

Q: How do I locate other sources for listings of veterans graves?
Q: How do I locate other military records?
Visit our Military Service Records Research Guide for more information on some of the military records that can be found at MNHS.  If visiting is not a good option, check out our Research Services page to see what records can be ordered through our Library.  
 
Note: The MN Historical Society collections do not include full, official service records.  The National Archives & Records Administration's Military Personnel Records office is a source for obtaining full service records.