Saturday, June 02, 2012

Military: Carded Medical Records and Original Hospital Registers

CARDED MEDICAL RECORDS, Record Group (RG) 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office 1780-1917, entry 534. Filed by unit, then alpha by service man's name.
You actually gave the arrangement for the Regular Army not the Volunteer. For those volumes they arranged first by state, then by regiment, then by soldiers name.
For the Regular Army they are arranged by regiment, that is all the 1st are together, 1st Cav, 1st Inf, 1st Arty, then by name.
You did a great job on the rest of it.

Marie Varrelman Melchiori,

Melchiori Research Services, L.L.C.

"Carded Medical Records" are just one type of document held at the National Archives (US) that may mention an ancestor who served in the military. Here are some helpful articles about what to expect from the National Archives in this regard.

NOTE: These original photos were taken by me during my April 2012 research at the National Archives in Washington, D. C. in the textual records reading room.

CARDED MEDICAL RECORDS, Record Group (RG) 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office 1780-1917, entry 534. Filed by unit, then alpha by service man's name. These cards are not microfilmed. To retrieve a file one completes the multi-part call slip, green copy shown below.

Image 1 - RG 94, Entry 534, Box 918. 31st Iowa, Fouche, J to Ross, J.
Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

You won't know if your ancestor will have a card until you have the box for his unit pulled to look for one. Within an hour or so, the appropriate Hollinger box is made ready for viewing on the second floor in the textual records reading room. 

All personal belongings must be left in a locker on the ground floor before entering this second floor reading room, with the exception of a laptop, camera, cell phone and/or scanner. If you must bring in paperwork, keep it to a minimum, and know you may be required to have it stamped by NARA staff for approval once your NARA Researcher Card has been scanned and you've gained admittance to the reading room. NARA provides paper and pencils if you need to make notes on the records you are reviewing. However, any papers you wish to take with you when leaving will be reviewed, stamped, and inserted into a green zippered and locked carrying bag for security reasons. That bag will be opened after you've retrieved things from your locker and are going through the exit security on the ground floor.

This is the "carded medical record" for Mr. Myrt's ancestor Charles A. Foye. It was created in 1883 to summarize what was entered in the original hospital register for the pension office. The bottom of this card indicates Charles A. Foye's entry in the original register is for Tennessee Register No. 89, Page 102. But we also see he served as a private in Company C, 31st Iowa Infantry. Charles was suffering from "Feb. Intermittens" or an intermittent fever. By comparing his date of admission and his date returned to duty with his unit's military history, we gain an understanding of the battles in which he may have participated. In this case, Charles was not returned to duty, but send to the GH (general hospital) on Dec 15, 1863. There is also a notation that he was admitted initially to No. 1 (Div 2) U.S.A. General Hospital at Nashville, Tennessee. He was also sent to the 2nd Division convalescence camp. From family lore and his Civil War pension file, we learned Charles had suffered "crystallization in his eyes" incident to battle, but none of his medical records discovered to date are that specific.

Image 2- Charles A Foye, private, Company C, 31st Iowa Infantry.
Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

HOSPITAL REGISTERS were created on site at the time a serviceman was treated, by clerks who took the physician's dictation or transcribed from a physician's scribbled note. With little exception, there is no additional info in the hospital register about an individual than appears on his carded medical record. However, it does pay to order up the hospital register to determine if your ancestor had similar injuries or illnesses compared to other servicemen from his unit.

The hospital registers themselves are in fragile condition, and in fact two NARA employees advised against my ordering them up, as there would be no additional info contained there in. The books come in a variety of formats, and I was surprised to see they had been imprinted with the name of the hospital. I anticipated these would be generic registers. The registers were of varying sizes, even for several successive registers for the Tennessee 89th Hospital.

This first sample was only about an 2 inches thick, and just over legal size (8 1/2" by 14"). 

Image 3 - Cover of Tenn. 89, Register of Sick and Wounded.
Also labeled G. H. No 4, Nashville, Tenn, 1862-1864.
Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

Another register for the same hospital were larger 3-4 inches thick, about 18" x 24".

Image 4 - Tenn. Register 89, [??] G. H., Nashville. Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

The hospital registers I looked at had a small note indicating dates covered by the register, pasted on the inside front cover, as shown below.

Image 5 - Inside front cover, Tenn. [Hospital Register] 89, 1862-1864, zoomed in.
Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

Of the 12 registers I viewed, all but one had an index in the beginning pages of the book. That notable exception was from Images 4 and 5 above where a smaller set of lined index pages was inserted. I believe the red ties are part of the archivist's conservation, as they all were linked to the semi-transparent "tape" on the side of each page. 

Image 6 - Inside front cover, Tenn. [Hospital Register] 89, 1862-1864, zoomed out.
Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.
Below find a detailed view of this index pictured above from this you can see that over the years, there were at least two reviews of this index and the entries in the hospital register. One is noted in blue pencil, the other in red pencil. As I write this,  I spotted a third notation, in the upper right, in regular black lead pencil. This is undoubtedly due to the nature of confirming a soldier's ailments as combat-related, etc. depending on the changing guidelines for pensions many years after the war.

Image 7 - Inside front cover, Tenn. [Hospital Register] #89, 1863. zoomed in.
Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

While it appears true the entries in hospital registers pretty much match what is on the "Carded Medical Records", by looking at your ancestor's entry in a register places his info in the context of other men also being treated in the hospital at the same time.
Image 8 - Tenn [Hospital] Register #89, 1863-1864, zoomed in on the ailments column.
Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

This register has a 2-page spread with the disposition of the soldier listed on the right hand page.
Image 9 - Tenn [Hospital] Register #9, 1863-1864, zoomed in on the disposition columns.
Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.
Image 10 - Tenn [Hospital] Register #9, 1863-1864, "died date not known".
 Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.


Aside from understanding the illnesses and injuries suffered by your ancestor?

Compare your ancestor's dates of hospitalization with his unit history to determine if he was on the line during battle, or back in a field or general hospital recuperating from an illness or injury.

If you are really lucky, there will be some other identifying notation. Below we have the entry for John Patton, 1st Sergt., Company K, 37th Missouri Lfoot who died at the hospital. Below that is the notation that on July 19th, his body was released to his brother, Louis Patton.

Image 11 -  Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

Image 12 -  Photo (c) 2012 Pat Richley-Erickson.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

Twitter: @DearMYRTLE
Second Life: Clarise Beaumont 


  1. Awesome post on this record group! I hope I have the opportunity to return to DC soon to do some research on my own. Thanks for sharing.

    Dawn Bingaman

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this important information. Definitely something worth looking into.

  3. Do you know where World War II medical records might be stored? Is there a collection that contains these records?

    1. WWII records that may have survived the 1973 fire are located at the National Military Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri. This is an extension of the National Archives.