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Salem Light Infantry Records

Salem Light Infantry Records

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Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission).

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Salem Light Infantry
Title:Salem Light Infantry Records
Quantity:6.5 linear feet (7 boxes)
Abstract:The Salem Light Infantry Records include constitutions, by-laws, orderly books, meeting records, members lists, and account books. This collection has been arranged into three series.
Identification:MM 12

Series List

SERIES I. Administrative Records
A. Constitution and By-Laws
B. Orderly Records
C. Meetings and Committees
D. Company History
SERIES II. Membership Records
SERIES III. Financial Records

Scope and Content Note

The Salem Light Infantry Records include constitutions, by-laws, orderly books, meeting records, members lists, and account books. This collection has been arranged into three series.

Series I. Administrative Records includes constitutions, by-laws, orderly books, meeting records, and historical memos. This series has been arranged into four subseries. Subseries A. Constitution and By-Laws includes multiple copies of the Salem Light Infantry Constitution and By-Laws. These documents were updated over the years and the multiple copies of these documents capture the changes. Subseries B. Orderly Records includes special and general orders from over fifty years of the Salem Light Infantry's service. Subseries C. Meeting and Committees includes company records which summarize committee and member meetings. Subseries D. Company History includes historical memos, documents created by members of the Salem Light Infantry to commemorate significant accomplishments and events in the history of the organization. Within these memos include a compiled list of all public appearances and parades of the Salem Light Infantry, a list of musicians of the Salem Light Infantry, multiple lists of members who were in attendance at various events, meeting programs, invitations, anniversaries, and correspondence. Some of these records are pasted into to oversize volumes (Vol. 8 and Vol. 9).

Series II. Membership Records includes lists of members from various time periods of the Salem Light Infantry's service. In addition, appointment letters, muster lists, and descriptive books of active, wounded, and deceased members are included. When possible, records associated with a specific company and regiment are denoted on the finding aid.

Series III. Financial Records include account books of the Salem Light Infantry that document expenses such as membership assessment, clothing, and general receipts of service.

Historical Sketch

The Salem Light Infantry was organized on May 1, 1805 in Salem, Massachusetts. A constitution and by-laws were created to govern the organization; these documents were routinely updated over the years. Initially, the Salem Light Infantry participated in routine parades and training. Troops were often seen at local events, such as the July 4th celebrations in Salem, Massachusetts. In July 1860 the Salem Light Infantry were visited by Colonel Elmer Ellsworth and the Chicago Zouaves Cadets during their tour of North America. Impressed by the Chicago Zouaves' form of drilling based on the French Zouave method, the Salem Light Infantry formed their own Salem Zouaves.

During the Civil War, the Salem Light Infantry were among the first units to respond to the call for volunteers in 1861. Over 400 men formed five different companies that were mustered into service, joining a variety of regiments of volunteer militia infantry units. These included Company H, 19th Regiment; Company A, 50th Regiment; Company A, 7th Regiment; Company H, 8th Regiment; and the 13th Unattached Company.

After the Civil War, members of the Salem Light Infantry continued to serve their country. During the Spanish American War they served as members of Company H, Eighth Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia and later, during World War I and II, they served as members of the 26th (Yankee) Division, Massachusetts National Guard. Continuing into the 21st Century, reenactments of military parades carry on the traditions of the Salem Light Infantry.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Peabody, George, 1795-1869
Whipple, George Mathews, 1842-1893
Massachusetts--Militia--Salem Light Infantry
Massachusetts--Militia--Regiment, 19th--Company H
Massachusetts--Militia--Regiment, 50th--Company A
Massachusetts--Militia--Regiment, 7th--Company A
Massachusetts--Militia--Regiment, 8th--Company H
Massachusetts--Volunteer militia, 8th Regiment--Company H
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Salem (Mass.)
Account books


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Request for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Salem Light Infantry Records, MM 12, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The majority of this material was found in the collection. The Petition to the General Court was removed from MM 2.

Processing Information

Collection processed and cataloged by Halley Grogan, February 2012.

Related Material

Whipple, George M. History of the Salem Light Infantry, 1805-1890. Salem: Salem Press, 1890.

Salem Light Infantry Veteran Association, 1862-1917, MM 13

Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Records, 1775-1908, MM 6

For additional Salem Light Infantry material, including circulars and official programs, please visit Philcat, our online catalog.

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