Q: How can I search for a Veterans' Graves Registration Report online?
Use the Minnesota People Records Search. The search defaults to searching multiple record types, so if you want to search only veterans’ grave registration reports, click the check-marks to remove the others.
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. They are now a part of the Minnesota State Archives collections and more information on their scope can be found on the collection's finding aid.
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: 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 Minnesota 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:
- 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.
- County: 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 neighboring/nearby counties or search all counties.
- Fort Snelling National Cemetery: Indicated as “Fort Snelling”, it appears in the index as if it were a county, but some Fort Snelling burials were filed in Hennepin County instead.
- Date: The date in the index is the date of death, not the year the report was filed. 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.
- Use the power of the “Starts with” search: Try using one--or just a few--of the beginning letters of a first or last name. Particularly helpful for names that can be spelled different ways or were easily misunderstood by clerks.
- Try other search options: The search defaults to Starts With, but the other options (Sounds Like, Contains, Exactly, etc.) can be helpful
- Sorting results: Results are initially sorted alphabetically by last name. Switch to a chronological sort by clicking on the date label at the top of the column. Clicking the date label again will reverse the list so the newest records are first.
- If you believe that a record was not included in the index, see “Why can’t I find a Veterans' Graves Registration Report that I know should be there?”
Q: How do I search for a married female veteran whose military service was under her maiden name?
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: Can I edit my search without starting over?
Yes! Scroll up to the search area. Add, change, or remove information from the boxes, and then click the Search button. Your new results will be below.
Q: How does searching for multiple record-types impact my search?
If you are searching for more than one type of record, there are a few things that change:
- Dates: The record-types cover different periods of time, as listed next to their names in the search area. If you search for a record type in a time period for which there are no records (census records after 1905, for example) you will get no results for that type of record.
- Available search fields: You may see search fields that only apply to some records. For example, neither State Census nor Veterans’ Graves Registrations use the Middle Name field. If a record-type does not use a field, the search ignores it for that type. So if you search for Death and State Census records for John James Smith, the death search tab will have results with all 3 names but the census search tab will have all the John Smiths.
Q: How does the Sounds Like search work?
“Sounds Like” searches use Soundex, an indexing system based on how a name sounds rather than how it is spelled. It enables one-step searching for alternate spellings. Soundex will find some names that are very close in spelling (Anderson, Andersen, and Andreson, for example), as well as names that are different in spelling but are pronounced similarly or have similar base consonants (O’Brien, Obring, Overom, and Obermann, for example).
Because Soundex utilizes the first letter of a name, it is crucial that this letter is known and has been correctly transcribed from documents (for example, Yorgeson and Jorgeson may be pronounced the same, but will not show up in the same “sounds like” search).
Q: What are the results under the Comments tab?
They are comments left by users like you! Researchers can comment on any record and often leave information about alternate spellings, nicknames, etc. that can help other researchers. The system searches the full text of comments, and clicking on a comment in the results page will open the full index record.
Q: Can MNHS staff research Veterans Graves 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 we do not have the staff or resources to do in-depth research for our patrons. You can contact our Reference Staff by phone (651-259-3300), or through email or Facebook.
Q: How can I order a copy of a Veterans Graves Report?
Order a non-certified copy directly through the online search system. 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 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 Graves 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.
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?"
- Only military veterans who are buried in Minnesota are included. The index 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 error (as opposed to an error on the certificate itself), please send an email describing the problem to email@example.com. 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 information was incomplete or incorrect please leave a user comment. User comments are searchable and can help other researchers.
Q: How do I locate other sources for listings of veterans graves?
Check your local library and historical society for cemetery records, indexes, or transcriptions.
Try some of the following websites:
- National WWII Memorial has information on the “Greatest Generation.”
- National Park Service's Soldiers and Sailors Database contains information about Civil War veterans
- American Battle Monuments Commission is a source for Mexican War, Civil War and Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, and Korean War veterans' burials
- Nationwide Gravesite Locator lists burials in Veterans Administration National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries and other Department of Interior and military cemeteries.
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 Minnesota 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.
If you have any questions, please contact the Reference staff at the Gale Family Library by either phone (651-259-3300) or email http://sites.mnhs.org/library/content/contact-us.