What is a Grand Army of the Republic Record?
Record-keeping was essential to the smooth operation of the GAR. Paperwork was managed at three organizational levels: National, Department, and Post. The community-based Post was the primary record-keeping entity of the GAR.
Published Records. Published records were routinely produced at the National and Department levels of the GAR, but rarely by Posts. Business at the National and Department levels was conducted at conventions (encampments), which were convened for only a few days each year. Summaries of the business activities at the encampments were published in book form as Journals of Proceedings. The National organization also issued books of rules and regulations, and guidebooks for conducting official ceremonies. Published records can often be found in the collections of major libraries, and many are now available online.
Unpublished Records. The majority of GAR records are unpublished and "one of a kind." Records kept by Posts included the charter (a certificate granting the Post the right to conduct business), by-laws and regulations, minute books, ledgers and account books, journals, membership applications, transfer records, descriptive rolls and rosters, scrapbooks, officer reports and orders, correspondence, death & burial books, banners and flags, and photographs.
GAR Departments maintained files for Posts in their jurisdiction, and active Posts were required to submit routine reports to the Department. Applications to form new Posts were also kept by the Department. Departments were also responsible for retrieving records and other property from disbanded GAR Posts in their jurisdiction, although this procedure wasn't always followed.
A more detailed discussion of the many types of GAR records can be viewed by clicking on the following link:
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