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Grand Army of the Republic, Department of New York, Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 7 Dec 2009

Biographical History

In 1866, Union veterans of the Civil War formed a fraternal organization known as the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), with both social and political goals, and with the stated principles of Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty. The organization was politically powerful; their General Order #11 (1868) established May 30 as "Decoration Day" which later evolved into Memorial Day, and they were active in passing legislation on pensions and retirement homes for veterans. These "Old Soldiers' Homes" eventually led to the current United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Because membership was open only to those who saw active service in the Union army, the GAR's lifespan was necessarily limited. During 1881 and 1882 the GAR formed the Sons of Veterans, U.S.A. to carry on its traditions; some of the earliest divisions were in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and New York (the New York Division was later renamed the New York Department). In 1956, with the death of the last surviving member, the GAR was formally dissolved.

In 1925 the Sons of Veterans changed their name to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, which is the name it uses at the present day. Membership in the organization is open to anyone who can demonstrate descent from a GAR member (interested parties who are not descendants are admitted as Associate Members). The SUVCW, along with the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War and three other organizations, comprise the five Allied Orders of the GAR.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Grand Army of the Republic, Department of New York, Collection consists of printed material and manuscript material.

Printed material consists of circulars, general orders (similar to newsletters), and other material from NYGAR headquarters in New York City.

Manuscripts contains a handwritten essay or paper by an unknown author. It begins with a discussion of the financial crisis of 1857 and ends with the writer's account of his enlistment in 1862, followed by a few brief notes (perhaps intended as an outline for further expansion) on the author's military service during the Civil War.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

See also the Sons of Veterans, New York Division, Collection.

Subject Headings

Corporate Bodies

Grand Army of the Republic. -- Dept. of New York.


Fraternal organizations -- United States.
Veterans -- Societies and clubs.


United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Societies and clubs.

Genres and Forms

Autobiographies (literary works)
Circulars (fliers)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Grand Army of the Republic, Department of New York, Collection
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, various.

Table of Contents

Printed material