New Project – Buffalo Soldiers, Returns From Regular Army Cavalry Regiments, 1866-1916

Last Wednesday we released a new project and anyone who is at all familiar with military history you will likely know about the Buffalo Soldiers.  This name was associated with units of African-American soldiers.  The records in this collection record the names of soldiers who served over 50 years of time.   It is a very appropriate collection for the season of remembering our military forebears. 

The records are handwritten and there are a variety of form types but overall I didn’t find this project all that difficult to key.   As I keyed I had a profound sense of wanting to be amongst these soldiers, to experience the hardships that they went through and to feel the pride they had in what they accomplishing.   I hope that you enjoy keying this project as much as I did.   Good luck and happy keying!

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I am very happy to work on this project and add to a lost niche of American History.
I have two comments:
1). When keying in the “where” column the caps key takes over. It doesn’t happen on all entries. It seems to have something to do with F, Ft, or Frt abbreviations for Fort. Hope it can be fixed.
2). I’m not so sure this is average difficulty for several reasons. The biggest challenge is that the size of the sets varies a lot. Some sets have only 2 or 3 pages but some sets like the lastI just finished had 6 pages. These pages of forms with many, many handwritten names on each is too much. Can they be broken down into smaller groups? I am slow OK, but I did spend about 7 hours on this last 6 page set this past weekend.
The other difficulty issue is that the handwriting can be really bad because the writer had to get a lot of info into small form spaces. I hate to just guess at names though the drop down menus do help…thanks, John

I just completed 153 records on the Buffalo Soldier’s Project. My first set of records. Some parts of the records were copied upside down and unreadable because they were too feint. Also, agree with John Nowlin, the handwriting is a little difficult to read. Scaling down the number of pages might help in managing fatigue and errors.


I want to reiterate what others have said.

It would be great if the sets were smaller. I downloaded 1 set of 5. I have done 3/5 so far (149 records). The first 2 images took me 3 hours each because of how poor the scan was (blurry) and the ink from the typewriter had blotched and some names were completely missing letters/ illegible. The third scan was far better and I did it in 20 minutes. A set of 5 has the potential of requiring 10-15 hours of work. It’s very fatiguing and discouraging.

I’ve decided to do one image/night and break it up with easier ones. I will get it done, but I’ll be working on it for a week.

It’s interesting to read the notes though! Glad I picked this one!


Dear Friends, after posting some weeks ago I am back again. I want to re-iterate that the sets are way too large. I have just finished one set which had 792 basic name entries. That totals at least 4000 entries when adding all of the columns. Couple this with terrible script at best and your talking a week of keying a couple to three hours a day. Also, I have gone to the other Military Return Projects doing several sets of each. They are rated difficult. Not one of those returns could hold a candle to the difficulty of one Buffalo Soldier return which is rated average. I honestly think that these two issues are a deterrent to getting the project done because it is very misleading. I have done 7 or 8 sets of Buffalo Soldiers thus far but feel hesitant to open more sets knowing the commitment it will require. I feel certain that others who have entered this project may well share my opinion.
On the other hand this seems to be a very important project because it gives valuable information in an area where there is so little info…Thanks for your patience and consideration…..John

I just started keying on this project and think it is harder than “easy”. I found the rank pull down menus to be incomplete for NCO ranks. I also found names with positions that were not ranks (like veterinarian, commissary, etc), particularly at regiment headquarters records. My first file was about 4 pages and took a couple hours. I think this a great project, but keying can be slow if there are a lot of names. I find the handwriting here no worse than other general clerical records of this period. These appear to be monthly manning reports.