Southern California Genealogical Society
Southern California Genealogical Society: Database: GAR Twentieth Encampment Directory - 1886


Go to the GAR Post Index
Download the Data Entry Template

About the Directory

This is a roster published by the Department of California, Grand Army of the Republic, just before the National Encampment of the GAR held in San Francisco, California August 2-11, 1886.

The genealogical value of this publication is very important.  It documents the presence of many veterans of the Civil War who came to California in the early years after the War to seek their fortunes.  It predates the 1890 census and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.  The Directory lists names, military units, post affiliations and officers’ rolls, and, for some posts, also the street addresses of members. Posts in California, Nevada, the Arizona Territory and the Hawaiian Islands are included.

The directory is organized by the GAR Post number, with members’ names arranged alphabetically within the posts’ list.  An appendix lists members whose information was probably submitted too late to be included in the main directory.  A cross-reference index is organized by Civil War military unit (state, unit, company). It is unclear whether this directory lists all of the members of each of the GAR posts, or if the names listed included only those members who were attending the Encampment.  An alphabetic index was included in the document; but, unfortunately the index pages are in very poor condition with only fragments surviving.  We expect that the alphabetic index will be reconstructed during the transcription process.

The directory also includes advertisements aimed at the GAR members, and many of the ads also mention names of the proprietors or other individuals.

The publication was found in an antique show at Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. A few of the pages are in poor or very poor condition due to tears and missing text. Further information about the source can be found in the introduction.

Our thanks go out to Mary Dancer, one of the project's transcriptionists. She located a digitized copy of the directory at The online version has been used to supplement the torn and missing pages from SCGS's copy of the document.

The Project to Transcribe the Directory

The Southern California Genealogical Society is committed to conserving genealogical materials and making them available to family historians and genealogists in the future.  This is one of the earliest SCGS projects to place digital images online in addition to the transcribed index.

The transcription work has just begun, with contributions thus far from Mary and Donn Dancer, Amy Coffin, Theresa Huston, Nick Smith, Barbara Filbin, and Paula Hinkel.  If you would like to participate in this project, please contact Paula Hinkel at  We are using Excel as our data entry program, and a template has already been set up and is available for download here.

Transcription Instructions

  1. You need to have Adobe Reader and Excel in order to do the transcription. If you do not have a version of Excel, you can obtain a FREE spreadsheet (OpenOffice Calc) that is compatible with Excel.

  2. Go to the Directory Index and select the GAR Post that you want to transcribe. Check the first column of the table to make sure the Post has not been selected by another volunteer.

  3. On the right-most column of the Directory Index, click on the PDF file(s) that are associated with that GAR Post. To save that file to your computer, from the task bar at the top of the screen, select File -> SaveAs -> (use the original name of the file GAR????.PDF) and then indicate the folder or location on your own computer or thumb drive.

  4. You will probably want to print out the page. I also keep the PDF file open on my computer when I am doing transcription. The GAR directory is easy to read, but the printed version is small. You can magnify the copy on your screen by increasing the PDF percent to 125% or even higher.

  5. Next, Download the Data Entry Template. To save that file to your computer, from the task bar at the top of the screen, select File -> SaveAs -> (use the original name of the file TEMPLATE - GAR Encampment Directory.xls) and then indicate the folder or location on your own computer or thumb drive.

  6. Send an email to and let me know which GAR Post you have selected. I will assign that Post to you.

  7. Following the examples and instructions on the Data Entry Template, type the information printed in the GAR directory into the spreadsheet. Do not worry about advertisements and don't worry about typing the officer list that appears at the beginning of each Post's listing.

  8. Be sure to save the Data Entry Template as you are working on the transcription. When you are finished with the first page, send me another email and attach the work you have done. Include any questions or problems that you've encountered. I'll check it over and then get back to you with any comments or hints.

  9. You'll find it's really simple once you start working on the project. Several of the GAR Posts have only one page of information, and you can transcribe those in 30-45 minutes.


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