United Spanish War Veterans of New York State
Records, ca. 1904 - ca. 1975
|Quantity:||6 Record Storage boxes and 32 Card File boxes (24 cu. ft.)|
|Access:||Record group is open to research|
|Acquisition:||Transferred to the New York State Library in October 1983|
|Processed By:||Gregory G. McNall, Student Intern, College of Saint Rose, October 1989
Fred Bassett revised July 2001
The United Spanish War Veterans was founded in 1904 out of the union of several independent Spanish-American War organizations, including the National Army and Navy Spanish-American War Veterans, the National Association of Spanish-American War Veterans, and the Service Men of the Spanish War. Among later organizations to join were the Society of the Hispano-American War, the Legion of Spanish War Veterans (from Massachusetts) and the Society of the Veteran Army of the Philippines.
All military personnel who served during the Spanish-American War and had been honorably discharged or continued to serve were eligible to become members of the organization. In addition, non-military personnel who had served in the war were eligible to join. Among them were all contracted doctors, dentists, and veterinary surgeons; all members of the Philippine scouts and other organizations of native troops maintained by the War Department in the Philippines, and all paymaster clerks on duty in the field or aboard ship.
According to its constitution, the main objectives of the United Spanish War Veterans organization were "To unite fraternally members of the United States Military who served in the Spanish-American War. To honor the memory of the fallen comrades. To assist former comrades and their families (widows, orphans, etc.). To perpetuate the memory of the Spanish American War" 1. The organization prohibited the promotion of financial aid by the organization of any person seeking public office. It also prohibited discrimination on the basis of religion.
The structure of the organization was as follows: the national level which had its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the state level, called a department, and the local level, called a camp. Every year a national convention, called an encampment, was held in a predesignated city. Just prior to the national encampment, the National Council of Administration held a meeting to discuss organizational business. Those participating in the council of administration were the commander-in-chief, the senior and junior vice commanders-in-chief, and the various department commanders. On the state level, a department encampment was also held annually; it consisted of delegates from each camp in the state as well as the department officers and past department officers. Department councils of administration, consisting of elected officers of the department and camp delegates could be called by the department commander. It served the same purpose as a national council of administration. The department of New York consisted of roughly 120 camps. On the local level, camps were able to call meetings at their own discretion.
1 Constitution and Rules and Regulations of the United Spanish War Veterans. Pages x, xi.
This collection contains material from the Department of New York Spanish-American War Veterans organization. It consists of 6 boxes of files, volumes, pamphlets, programs, membership cards, and other material ranging in dates from the early 1900s to the mid 1970s. There is also a card file that contains information about individual members of the organization.
Box one contains organizational material, including copies of the constitution and rules of the organization, which gives an in-depth review of the history of the Spanish-American War veterans organization. There are also histories of the department auxiliaries, which kept very concise documentation of their existence.
Box two contains minute books of the auxiliary department meetings, ranging in dates from 1911 to 1958, and also 1971. These mainly document organizational business that was discussed at the various meetings.
Box three contains financial books, including check books (with check stubs still attached), account books and membership dues books. These volumes documented such financial matters as the collection of camp dues, the logging of expenses during functions and encampments, and banking transactions.
Box four has files that mainly deal with financial matters in more recent years (1950s, 1960s, 1970s). They include a collection of bank statements and per capita tax reports, as well as bond reports and requisition forms for buttons, badges, books, and certificates.
Box five consists of files concerning department activities, including meetings, encampments, and councils of administration. There are also files containing such material as invitations to encampments, resolutions, muster rolls (camp membership files), and notices of deceased members (taps files). Disbanded camp information is also included; camps were often discontinued due to death of members.
Box six contains topical material ranging from membership rosters of other departments to a Holy Bible. There are cards that list past commanders of New York camps from around the state. The majority of material in this box consists of files containing correspondence and department papers from Arthur W. Higginbottom, Harry M. Startup, Warren Schenck, Samuel Selmer, and Charles S. Schilz, all officers of the department of New York.
The membership card files are housed in separately numbered containers with the contents filed in alphabetical order by surname. These cards are also divided as post-1920 and pre-1920. These cards contain standard directory information as well as information about an individual's military service.