About the Collection
Prepared by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, this is an indexed compilation of the records of the Massachusetts soldiers and sailors who served in the army or navy during the Revolutionary War. This is a seventeen volume series, and contains an alphabetized list of all surnames. There are over 175,000 records in this database, which give, when available, the name and age of the individual, town of residence, the date and location of enlistment, areas and length of service, date of discharge, and description of their physical features.
The General Court of 1891, by Chapter 100 of its resolves, directed the Secretary of the Commonwealth to prepare and publish ” An indexed compilation of the records of the Massachusetts soldiers and sailors who served in the army or navy during the Revolutionary War, as shown in the archives in the office of the Secretary.” The work was begun in Sep- tember of 1891 by making a card record index to all names found upon the muster rolls, pay rolls and other documents which form the Revolutionary War archives. The Revolutionary collection at that time numbered sixty volumes of rolls, orders, receipts, etc., together with the continental regiment books, numbering twenty-one volumes of individual pay accounts.
The work on this collection had been nearly completed when a mass of rolls and miscellaneous papers was purchased under the authority of Chapter 33 of the Resolves of 1893. This addition is equivalent in amount of material to two volumes and is now known as the Drake collection. Subsequent to this extension of the Revolutionary series, in 1894, a large number of company and regimental returns, descriptive lists, orderly books, account books, etc., making fourteen new volumes, were found among a miscellaneous, unclassified collection of documents which had been hidden away for years in the various storage places connected with the Secretary’s office.
Although much more time was taken for printing than had been originally estimated, it was deemed proper to incorporate these newly found records in the regular work, rather than to add a supplement; and this was accordingly done. It will be seen that the original Revolutionary rolls collection has been augmented by sixteen volumes, and it is estimated that the number of references to individual records of service has been increased at least one-third. It is from the card record index, comprising over six hundred and twenty thousand cards, that this copy was prepared for the printer.