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Citadel Alumni Genealogical Research Guide

This guide will help researchers use The Citadel Archives collections to conduct genealogical research on Citadel alumni.

Board of Visitor Meeting Minutes

The Citadel Board of Visitor Meeting Minutes are the oldest institutional publications that we have for the school, dating from the founding year of 1842. They are an invaluable resource, especially the minutes from the antebellum period, in researching all aspects of Citadel history including students and alumni. 

The Citadel closed in 1865 due to the Civil War and remained closed for 17 years until 1882; hence, we do not have Board of Visitor Minutes for those years. The Minutes were handwritten until shortly after 1900 when they began to be typed.

So how do I search the Board of Visitor Minutes for an alumni?

1. From the Digital Collections homepage, you will click on "Browse Collections," which will take you to a list of all the collections we have online.

2. Click on the collection to view the list of Minutes that we have online. Once you find the year you are looking for, click to open the Minutes.

3. When you open the Minutes (for example purposes, 1842 is used here), the first thing you will see is a PDF scan of the original Minutes that we have in the Archives. You can scroll through the entire scan, zoom in and out on the pages, and print/download the scan.

PRO TIP: Because this document is handwritten, you will not be able to search the PDF for keywords.

 4. If you continue scrolling down the page past the PDF scan, you will see information ("metadata") about the document with headings such as "Creator," "Rights," and "Identifier." You will find a heading called "Text" and a long written document under it: this is the typed transcription of the Minutes in the PDF scan above and what you will use to search. Every handwritten document on the Digital Collections website has a typed transcription provided.

5. Now you are ready to do a search. In order to search this webpage, you will need to use the shortcut "Command-F" on your computer. It will work on both PCs and Macs. I am using a Mac so my screenshots may look a little different than what you will see on a PC but the search will work in exactly the same way. Once you type "Command-F," a search bar should appear at the top of the page like this:

You will then type the name of the alumnus in the search box. We recommend starting by searching only the last name. Most of the names of cadets in the Board of Visitor Minutes only have a last name with a first initial or abbreviation such as "Wm" for William or "Jno" for John. We also recommend trying different spellings of the last name as there could have been a spelling error in the document. 

I am going to use J. W. Cantey as an example since I know he appears in the 1842 Minutes. If you type in Cantey in the search box, this is the result:

If you look at the top of the page, next to the search bar, it will tell you how many matches you have. The name Cantey returned three matches and you can use the arrows next to the match numbers to scroll through them. The matches will be highlighted in yellow. If the name you are searching for does not have any matches, it will say 0 matches.

6. That's it! You have successfully searched a Board of Visitors Minutes transcription and hopefully found the name of the alumnus you were looking for. If you have any questions, please email us at We are happy to help you!

PRO TIP: It can be helpful to use the Board of Visitor Minutes and the Official Registers together when searching for your alumnus, especially if you are unsure of the spelling of a name. Check out how to search the Official Registers from the pull down tab on the side of the page.