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Spanish-American War Records

The Spanish-American War is frequently overlooked by genealogists and researchers. The war lasted a few months of 1898 and involved relatively few active troops. Most of the battles took place between the navies. There was a sound American victory with few U.S. troop casualties. IARA holds a collection of Spanish-American War records that genealogists may find useful.

Large military forces were enlisted and readied for the conflict without ever being used. After the war, those force members organized the United Spanish War Veterans (USWV). This group was formed from three preceding groups in 1904 and lasted more than ninety years beyond the war. The death of the last member, in 1992, led to the disbanding of the national organization. When the Indiana Department closed, they sent most of the unit records to the Indiana State Archives. The collection was processed in 2008 by a State Archives volunteer. This collection is a great asset to genealogists researching Hoosier ancestors.

The collection is arranged alphabetically by veteran name. A large part of the files is made up of membership applications. These applications were filled out by the veterans when they joined the group and are a large source of family information. Among the information that can be found on them is place and date of birth and marriage for veterans and wives, and in some cases information about how, when, and where previous marriages ended.

The files also contain data on pensions and the proof required to apply for them. Many files still have original marriage records, divorce records, death certificates, and other government paperwork. Genealogists can use the postwar changes of families with these documents as they often list out-of-state addresses, names of children, and other information.

A third part of the files is the USWV TAPS Reports that document the death, next of kin information, burial locations, and sometimes even the newspaper obituaries of veterans. These forms were filled out by the local chapters and sent to the state headquarters in Indianapolis.

The USWV also included veterans of the Philippine-American Insurrection/War of 1899-1901 and veterans of the Boxer Rebellion in China during 1900-1902. The addition of these veterans expands the time frame and veteran totals which means there are more files available to genealogists. USWV members often served in federal units and those from other states, which can help researchers track postwar movement.

The Indiana State Archives also houses the Indiana National Guard Service Records Collection, 1898-1940. This collection frequently contains the information of service members who were fighting during the wars. The Indiana Spanish-American War Volunteer Service Cards Collection, 1898-1899 is also at the Indiana State Archives and is available on microfilm.

For more on IARA’s military records see IARA: Military Records ( To schedule an appointment to view the Spanish-American War records or with questions, email or call 317-591-5222.

Adapted from Ron Darrah’s, “Spanish-American War: United Spanish War Veterans Collection at the Indiana State Archives,” Connections, vol. 48, issue 2, 2008, pp. 126-127.