Scope and arrangement
Statistical Bureau Archives, 1861-1869, contain correspondence, original returns, tabulations, abstracts and other materials supporting the USSC’s efforts to promote the health, comfort and efficiency of U.S. troops through the acquisition and analysis of information about their condition, and to use such information to prevent or ameliorate any deficiencies. Investigations or studies were also undertaken to promote scientific knowledge. Materials pertain to Camp Inspections; the physical and social condition of troops as seen in records of Height, Age and Nativity, as well as Physical Description and Physical Examination records; reports of U.S. Army general hospitals; and Loss and Gain records, including transcriptions of regimental returns, diagrams plotting rates of sickness and mortality, and records of statistical loss and gain in battle. Also present are administrative records, 1861-1869 (bulk 1864-1868), mainly reflecting the Bureau’s work under the supervision of its superintendent Benjamin A. Gould, as seen in his incoming correspondence, weekly reports from staff, and a cash book.
Camp inspection materials, 1861-1864 and undated, represent one of the Statistical Bureau’s earliest efforts in the collection and tabulation of data to support the goals of the USSC. Materials consist of camp inspection returns (completed forms); agent reports, which provide detailed narratives of camp inspections; and compiled abstracts of camp inspection data. Also present are various lists of inspectors and the regiments inspected.
The Statistical Bureau collected and analyzed data from federal and state muster rolls as to the height, age and nativity of U.S. soldiers, especially during the latter part of the war and the post-war period. Height, age and nativity records, 1866-1867 and undated, mainly comprise three types of undated materials: the forms used to collect the data, and the charts and tables used for charting and analyzing the data. The records also contain letters received 1866-1867 from regimental officers responding to Bureau circulars concerning the height or nativity of their men. These reflect the Bureau’s efforts to substantiate or augment data collected, and their interest in the impact of certain physical characteristics, such as exceptional height, on a soldier’s stamina.
Hospital reports, 1863 Sep-1864 Nov, represent the efforts of Statistical Bureau staff to collect and analyze data on loss and gain in the number of soldiers, as well as additional information on the flow of patients, at U.S. military hospitals over time. Materials consist of daily morning reports; quarter monthly and weekly reports; monthly abstracts with working drafts, and yearly reports. Also present are hospital lists showing names of men received; a small number of reports from miscellaneous hospitals, and notably, a report on Sharpsburg area hospitals visited after the battle of Antietam.
Loss and gain records, 1861-1866 and undated, consist of three groups of materials reflecting the USSC’s investigation and study of conditions affecting loss and gain in the strength of the U.S. Army over time: regimental returns of loss and gain, 1861-1866; summaries and diagrams of rates of sickness and mortality for both American and British troops, studying the period 1793-1863; and battle statistics, 1861-1865. Notable battle statistics materials include tabular studies and other documentation concerning the condition of troops before, during and after the battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg, with particular reference to the effect of forced marches and diet on efficiency in battle and general health; these studies were based on inspectors' interviews with regimental officers and surgeons.
Physical description materials, undated, consist of collected data (rough sheets) and tabulations (final summaries) documenting the USSC’s ongoing investigations into the physiological characteristics of U.S. soldiers, such as their complexion and the color of their hair and eyes. Also present are tabular descriptions of men of the 1st Connecticut Artillery stationed near Fort Richardson.
Physical examination materials, 1863 Jan-1866 May and undated, consist of individually completed physical and social examination forms for thousands of U.S. soldiers and members of a variety of other military and non-military groups, including sailors, native Americans, college students, and Confederate soldiers held as prisoners of war; tabulations of the examination forms; various social and physiological studies derived from examination forms; index volumes to examinations; and, notably, a prototype examination form comparing similar work done by Great Britain and the Smithsonian Institute.
The United States Sanitary Commission records. Statistical Bureau archives are arranged in seven series:
- 1861-1869 1864-1868
Records primarily document the administration and work of the Statistical Bureau under the supervision of Benjamin A. Gould, USSC Actuary, as seen in his incoming correspondence, 1864-1869, weekly reports from staff, 1864-1868, and a cash book, 1866-1868.
Letters received by Gould are arranged in groups established by him. General correspondence consists of letters from U.S. Sanitary Commission officers and staff, with the exception of Edward Jarvis; letters from examiners and letters from clerks are from Statistical Bureau employees reporting on their work activities; and letters from State Adjutants General concern military statistics and USSC access to military records.
Weekly reports submitted to Gould on the status of Statistical Bureau office work were mostly written by Lucius Brown, Chief Clerk of the Statistical Bureau. Each report describes the work accomplished by individual staff members, followed by a summary of any statistical returns received that week, by type, number, and compiler. Reports of a similar nature are also found in Gould’s incoming correspondence from various Statistical Bureau clerks, particularly Lucius Brown.
Elliott’s earlier tenure as Actuary is represented to a lesser extent by documents relating to the USSC’s efforts to development a pay allotment system for soldiers, 1861-1862, and office index volumes compiled 1861-1864 to record the processing of inspection and regimental returns, and the regimental structure of the U.S. Army for work purposes. A copy of Elliott’s 1863 published report On the Military Statistics of the United States of America, prepared for the International Statistical Congress in Berlin, is also present, along with miscellaneous memoranda and reports.
Camp inspection materials represent one of the Statistical Bureau’s earliest efforts in the collection and tabulation of data to support the goals of the USSC. Materials consist of camp inspection returns (completed forms); agent reports, which provide detailed narratives of camp inspections; and compiled abstracts of camp inspection data. Also present are various lists of inspectors and the regiments inspected.
In the summer of 1861, the Sanitary Commission sent a corps of inspectors, or agents, into the field to complete sanitary inspections of U.S. military camps, with the goal of determining the general hygienic condition of the volunteer forces, and needs and capabilities of the medical staff. Camps inspectors used the USSC’s printed questionnaire forms (”returns”), to guide the inspection process, and to note their findings and brief remarks. The data on these returns also made it possible for the Commission to bring any serious deficiencies in camp conditions to the attention of the proper authorities. Inspectors would sometimes write a report, referred to as agent reports, to expand on the data collected on a return or, in some cases, in lieu of filling out a return. As camp inspection returns were sent in and received at the Statistical Bureau office, they were numbered in the order they were received, and the data was tabulated in the form of abstracts, which allowed for easier analysis. Camp inspection returns are dated from August 1861 through February 1864, and tabulation of returns continued until at least June 1865.
Most of the data collected on camp inspection returns is nominal data (descriptions with no numerical value). This caused many of the responses provided on returns to vary greatly in detail, the manner in which they were composed, and the level of completeness, as it was up to the inspector to fill in the blank space provided for each question. Although this presented difficulties in tabulation, staff created a number of abstracts to analyze this nominal data, which provide actual content, of varying levels of inclusiveness, from the camp inspections returns. Present are abstracts arranged by camp inspection number, which provide a summary of all numbered inspections, as well as various abstracts tabulated by variables, which provide the ability to analyze the work of individual inspectors, the condition of a particular state’s regiments, or camps in particular regions. There was also an attempt to translate nominal data into numerical data using a numerical scale.
The bulk of camp inspection materials present here were microfilmed as identified in United States Sanitary Commission Records, Series 1: Medical Committee Archives, 1861-1866, and Series 7: Statistical Bureau Archives, Camp Inspection Returns, 1861-1864. Guide to the Scholarly Resources Microfilm Edition. Wilmington, Delaware : Scholarly Resources Inc., 1999. Their present arrangement and description may vary. The guide can be consulted for the listing of camp inspection returns, which retain their original order. Agent reports were re-processed and this container list replaces the item level listing found there. Due to the incorporation of previously unsorted materials into this subgroup, the filming status of the records has been noted.
The Statistical Bureau collected and analyzed data from federal and state muster rolls as to the height, age and nativity of U.S. soldiers, especially during the latter part of the war and the post-war period. It also conducted physiological examinations at military and other sites, as seen in materials in Series VII. Physical Examinations. Height, age and nativity records mainly comprise three types of undated materials: the forms used to collect the data, and the charts and tables used for charting and analyzing the data. The records also contain letters received 1866-1867 from regimental officers responding to Bureau circulars concerning the height or nativity of their men; these reflect the Bureau’s efforts to substantiate or augment data collected, and their interest in the impact of certain physical characteristics, such as exceptional height, on a soldier’s stamina.
The Bureau’s investigations focused on comparing physiological characteristics across nativities and other variables such as race, and determining the representative nativities of U.S. servicemen engaged in the war. The bulk of the data collected concerns Army regiments, but data is also present for U.S. Navy sailors and landsmen. Nativities, as defined by the Statistical Bureau, can be a state, region, or country in which a soldier was born.
Also present are miscellaneous statistical tables, including data collected at Judiciary Square Hospital and a convalescent camp.
- 1863 Sep-1864 Nov
Hospital reports represents the efforts of Statistical Bureau staff to collect and analyze data on the losses and gains of soldiers, as well as additional information on the flow of patients, at U.S. military hospitals over time. Materials consist of daily morning reports; quarter monthly and weekly reports; monthly abstracts with working drafts, and yearly reports. Also present are hospital lists showing names of men received; a small number of reports from miscellaneous hospitals, and notably, a report on Sharpsburg area hospitals visited after the battle of Antietam.
Hospital reports were compiled by U.S. hospital staff, and were either copied by Army clerical staff for the USSC, or transcribed by USSC from the original records. The Bureau then tabulated the reports to show hospital and patient data for periods of days, weeks, months, or entire years. This allowed for the analysis of the flow of patients according to time, hospital, or region, which could be used as a means of generally monitoring the condition and care of troops, and to study the impact of battles, disease and other factors of military service on the health of men. After the U.S. War Department restricted USSC access to hospital report records in July 1864, and it became clear in 1865 that the Surgeon General’s Office was conducting its own studies, the Sanitary Commission decided to suspend any further analysis of existing data based on Gould’s recommendation.
The bulk of hospital reports are printed forms containing data on the number of soldiers lost and gained (through admission, release, transfer, death and other actions) at particular hospitals during the reporting period, as recorded within prescribed column headings. Most of the data presented on hospital reports is numerical, although soldiers’ names, rank and condition, and remarks are sometimes present. Individual soldier names can be found on morning reports of hospitals, hospital lists, and weekly hospital reports.
The daily morning reports of hospitals were the foundational records from which many of the hospital reports for longer time spans were derived, although the amount of information collected varies for each hospital. Morning reports not only provided the basis for statistical analysis but were also the means by which an individual soldier's hospital location and condition could be identified. As such, these reports also provided information for the USSC's Hospital Directory, which was initiated in late 1862 to support civilian inquiries about the status of missing, sick or wounded soldiers.
The arrangement of each type of hospital report is described below. Reports which are arranged geographically generally reflect the Northeast-to-South-to-West arrangement which is used through the Statistical Bureau’s work.
Many of the reports and abstracts were originally bundled within wrappers, which were labeled with descriptions of the documents within. Detailed descriptions were retained when necessary. Date spans represent the actual dates of the events recorded. It appears that a number of hospital reports were destroyed during the USSC’s post-war arrangements.
Records consist of three groups of materials reflecting the USSC’s investigation and study of conditions affecting loss and gain in the strength of the U.S. Army over time: regimental returns of loss and gain, 1861-1866; summaries and diagrams of sickness and mortality covering the period 1793 to 1863; and battle statistics, 1861-1865. Date spans represent the time period for which data was collected unless otherwise stated. Pre-Civil War dates represent statistics collected for American and British armies.
Data was collected from monthly regimental returns of loss and gain at the Adjutant General’s Office in Washington DC from the start of loss and gain investigations in 1861 up to returns on file in the War Department as of October 1, 1865 (dating to January 1, 1865), at which point access was denied (Gould, Report of the Actuary, 1867, p. 2). The USSC used records of state Adjutants General to fill informational gaps.
Each of the above three groups examines regimental loss (casualties, discharge, sickness, furlough, et cetera) and gain (returns from hospital or furlough, enlistment or re-enlistment, et cetera) for the purpose of determining the relative positive and negative effects certain variables might have on the strength of military forces. Examples include studies of loss and gain data on a monthly basis for particular regiments over time; rates of sickness and death by season of the year, with further evaluations by region, particular armies, or type of sickness; and the condition of troops before, during and after a major battle. Depending on the variable nature of a study, the process typically included collecting and transcribing data from original government records (such as Army regimental returns and hospital reports), or USSC forms, on to manuscript or printed tables, and using tables, charts and bar graphs to analyze data and summarize findings. Many of these materials are oversize; some tables contain abstracted text where noted.
Regimental returns of loss and gain contain transcriptions and tabulations of loss and gain data for specific state regiments over time, with abstracts and summaries studying individual state forces, armies of the east and west, and the whole volunteer army. These materials provide much of the data for the following studies on sickness and mortality.
Summaries and diagrams (bar graphs) of sickness and mortality, including tabulations, analyze collected data by variables such as season of the year or location, army unit or military department, campaign, or soldier rank. Summaries include classifications of diseases and casualties. Comparative studies for the British Army and the U.S. Army prior to the Civil War are also present.
Battle statistic materials, 1861-1865, consist of tabular studies of the effect of forced marches on the condition of troops taking part in the battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg; battle returns (casualty reports); reports of sick and wounded; and responses to USSC inquiries concerning the method of recording burials, and the loss and gain of medical staff attached to volunteer forces. Date spans are contemporary to the creation of the materials unless otherwise stated.
Physical descriptions materials consist of collected data (rough sheets) and tabulations (final summaries) documenting the USSC’s ongoing investigations into the physiological characteristics of U.S. soldiers, such as their complexion and the color of their hair and eyes. Also present are tabular descriptions of men of the 1st Connecticut Artillery stationed near Fort Richardson.
Rough sheets are the loose paper sheets on which Statistical Bureau clerks transcribed the number of cases of each age, complexion, eye color, hair color, height, nativity, occupation, and weight of soldiers, as taken from muster rolls. Final tables are the printed forms on which the collected descriptions were tabulated. According to the paper wrappers enclosing the “original rough sheets from which final summaries were made,” the data was “collected at Washington in 1864-5.” Tabulation of such data continued through 1866. Dates of the original data collected were not recorded.
Interest in this type of data began during the Elliott administration of the Bureau, as seen in Height, Age and Nativity records, and Physical Examinations. According to Gould’s Investigations, p. 185, statistical clerks stationed at state capitals (in 1865 and 1866) collected and tabulated similar data in regard to complexion, hair and eye color from state muster rolls.
Rough sheets and final summaries are both arranged by state of enlistment.
- 1863 Jan-1866 May
Materials consist of completed physical and social examination forms for U.S. soldiers and a variety of other military and non-military groups; tabulations of the examination forms; various social and physiological studies derived from examination forms; index volumes to examinations; and, notably, a prototype examination form comparing similar work done by Great Britain and the Smithsonian Institute.
Frederick Law Olmsted, General Secretary of the USSC, and E.B. Elliott, Actuary, prepared a series of questions to be used for the physical and social examination of soldiers. This examination was intended to serve several scientific purposes, one of which was to determine the average size and proportions of the troops of the United States in comparison with those of foreign countries. Other questions aimed to determine what size and weight of men was best suited for each branch of the military, and whether climate, nativity, and mode of life prior to military service had any effect upon the men engaged in military activities. Examinations were conducted from January 1863 until May 1866, when the focus turned solely to the tabulation of the remaining examinations. Tabulation of examinations continued to the summer of 1868.
Although the bulk of the examinations are of white soldiers, the USSC also conducted examinations of colored soldiers and non-soldiers, Indians, sailors, and students. However, these groups are interspersed throughout all of the examinations and may not always be identified. Examinations of Confederate soldiers held as prisoners at David’s Island, New York and Point Lookout, Maryland were also conducted; these are identified as a group.
Examiners were sent to various locations throughout the country, with the necessary examination forms, and instruments constructed at the U.S. Coastal Survey office for obtaining physical measurements, to conduct examinations. In the summer of 1864, Benjamin Gould suggested to the Sanitary Commission that efforts in collecting physical examinations be expanded, as those collected up to that point had proved to be rich in statistical value. Following Gould’s recommendation, the USSC authorized the construction of twelve more measuring instruments and the employment of twelve examiners.
Examination data was entered on forms, which were revised over the course of the study resulting in three versions of the examination form. The initial examination was entitled "Form E. Physical Examination"; this was revised to include sociological data, resulting in a two-part form entitled "Form E. Individual Inspection I. Physiological" and "Form E-2. Individual Inspection II. Social”. This form was then revised to provide more detail in the instructions to facilitate uniform measurement practices by the additional examiners employed during the later stages of this investigation. The revised form was entitled "Form EE. Individual Inspection." The first and last versions of the examination forms collected only physiological data. Forms are generally described in Gould’s Investigations, p. 218-225. Although forms called for the identification of soldiers by name, that information is often omitted.
Any terms used by the Statistical Bureau to describe races or groups of individuals have been retained.