The mission of the New York State Military Museum and Veteran's Research Center is to preserve, interpret and disseminate the story, history and records of New York State's military forces and veterans. The collection is divided into the museum and the library/archives holdings.
Begun in 1863, the collection did not have a secure, permanent home until the Governor announced in 2001 that the historic armory in Saratoga Springs, NY would be renovated to house the collection. The building, designed by Isaac Perry and constructed in 1889, is a fine example of armory architecture that was popular in upstate New York in the late 1800's.
The museum houses over 10,000 artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War to Desert Storm that relate to New York State's military forces, the state's military history and the contributions of New York's veterans. The artifacts include uniforms, weapons, artillery pieces, and art. A significant portion of the museum's collection is from the Civil War. Notable artifacts from this conflict include Colonel Elmer Ellsworth's (the Union's first martyr) uniform, the medical kit of Jubal Early's surgeon, and the uniform and bugle of Gustav Schurmann (General Philip Kearny's boy bugler). Included in the museum are significant holdings relating to New York's 27th Division in World War I and World War II and notable state military regiments such as the 7th (Silk Stocking Regiment), 69th (Fighting Irish), 71st, and 369th (Harlem Hell fighters) New York Infantry.
The museum also owns the largest collection of state battle flags in the country and the largest collection of Civil War flags in the world. Of the over 1700 flags in the collection, more than 60% are from the Civil War. The flags date from the War of 1812 through the 1991 Gulf War. The museum maintains an exhibit of its flag collection in the state capitol building in Albany where the museum collection was originally housed.
The library and archive holdings in the Veterans Research Center include a 12,000 volume library of military and New York State history, over 9,000 photographs, unit history files, broadsides, scrapbooks, letters and maps. Highlights of the library and archives material include over 2,300 Civil War photographs, a collection of Civil War era newspaper clippings arranged by New York units, and New York National Guard service cards and service records dating from the 1880's to 1965.
The Veteran Research Center operates the New York State Veteran Oral History Program and the Veteran Questionnaire Program. The Oral History Program actively collects interviews of New York State veterans from all eras. The largest part of this collection is of World War II veteran interviews. The Veteran Questionnaire Program, similar to the Oral History Program, solicits and preserves the written and photographic record of the state's veterans.
View the New York State Military Museum Digital Collection
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15th New York National Guard Enlistment Records
These cards were made when men enlisted into the 15th New York National Guard, the African-American Regiment raised out of New York City. These approximatly 11,000 cards range in date from just after World War One (where the unit served under the French as the 369th Infantry Regiment) to 1949 when the military was integrated under President Truman. Each card captures information such as name, address, rank, occupation, age, height, and place of birth.
27th Division in World War Two
This yearbook was published in 1941 by the now defunct Army-Navy Publishers. It chronicles the year the 27th Division, The New York Division, spent training at Fort McClellan, Alabama.
The 27th Infantry Division was federalized for service on October 15th, 1940 and initially commanded by Major General William Haskell. At this time it still retained its WWI organization of two brigades and four regiments. The 53rd Brigade consisted of the 105th and 106th Infantry regiments while the 54th Brigade contained the 108th and 165th Infantry regiments. Following a lengthy period of maneuvers and training, the 27th was ordered to California in December following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. While in California the 27th awaited orders to ship out and concentrated on bringing itself up to the authorized field strength of 1,012 officers and 21,314 enlisted men. The Division’s strength had been reduced by discharges to around 14,000 men. The first elements of the Division boarded ships bound for Hawaii on February 27th 1942, the first Infantry Division to leave the states following Pearl Harbor.
This Division served in the Pacific at Makin, Eniwetok, Saipan, Okinawa and finally was garrisoned in Japan as part of the occupation forces.
Civil War Carte de Visite Collection
The carte de visite (CDV) is a photographic print measuring 2.5" by 3.5" mounted on a card measuring 2.5" by 4". It was first introduced in 1854 by Frenchman Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi, shortly after the invention of the collodion wet plate. He used the collodion wet plate process and a multiple exposure back on his camera to produced a negative with eight small images (2.5" by 3.5") on the single plate. He then contact printed the negative on albumen paper and after developing the prints, cut them into eight separate images and mounted each on a card. The photographs were used as calling cards and given by people who were visiting, inspiring the French name "carte de visite". In America the CDV became immensely popular by 1859 and many famous people as well as a lot more not so famous people were photographed using this mass production process. The carte de visite was one of the most widely used photographic processes during the Civil War and was produced well into the 1870's. The New York State Military Museum and Veteran's Research Center has about 2,500 in our collection. Most are of known men who were fighting for the New York Volunteers.
These diaries are from men who served in the Civil War, World War One or World War Two. These first person accounts offer a bevy of insights into the thoughts, actions and beliefs of the men who served.