Among the records of the Adjutant General's Office in the National Archives are many of the original records that were abstracted or "carded" by the Record and Pension Office. These include the individual unit’s muster rolls, returns and descriptive books. Other series in RG 94 that contain information relating to volunteer Union soldiers who served with the USCT include carded records relating to Union staff officers, carded medical records of volunteer Union soldiers, unbound and bound regimental records and "record of events" cards. The regimental records of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry (Colored) have been reproduced as Microfilm Publication M1659, Records of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored), 1863-1865.
The "record of events" cards include information copied from the unit’s muster rolls and returns. They show the stations of the field and staff and those of the various companies of the regiment at the time the muster roll or return was prepared and sometimes mention battles, skirmishes, or other activities in which the regiment participated. The cards have been reproduced as Microfilm Publication M594, Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations.
Record Group 94 also includes a card index for the USCT, reproduced as Microfilm Publication M589, Index to Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with U.S. Colored Troops, which may be used to locate the regiment of USCT personnel. An index card gives the name of the soldier and his rank, as well as the unit in which he served; sometimes there is a cross-reference to his service in other units or organizations. The National Archives is continually producing microfilm publications of volunteer Union compiled military service records. A complete listing of finished publications can be found in the National Archives Microfilm Resources for Research: A Comprehensive Catalog which is available online at http://www.nara.gov.
The Records of the Colored Troops Division, within RG 94, include division correspondence and records relating to recruiting, the appointment of officers, and the slave or free status of individuals; and a compilation of historical extracts and official papers concerning the military service of African Americans from the colonial period through the Civil War entitled The Negro in the Military Service of the United States 1639-1886. This compilation is reproduced as Microfilm Publication M858. The Records of the Bounty and Claims Division, also in RG 94, include correspondence of the division and records relating to bounties and claims paid to loyal owners of slaves by the Slave Claims Commissions of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
If an application for a pension was made, the pension application case file may be among the Records of the Veterans Administration (RG 15). Indexes to the pension applications have been reproduced as Microfilm Publication T288, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, and T289, Organizational Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900.
If a soldier or officer was tried before a general court-martial or if an individual or his unit was the subject of a court of inquiry or military commission, transcripts of the proceedings may be among the Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Army) (RG 153). The registers to the proceedings have been reproduced as Microfilm Publication M1105, Registers of the Records of the Proceedings of the U.S. Army General Courts-Martial, 1809-1890.
Other record groups having information pertaining to the USCT include Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (RG 105); Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau (Civil War) (RG 110); Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury (RG 217); and Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1821-1920 (RG 393).
Holdings of the National Archives relating to the Civil War are outlined in Kenneth W. Munden and Henry Putnam Beers, Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War (Washington, DC: National Archives, 1962) and Henry Putnam Beers, Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America (Washington, DC: National Archives, 1968), which were reprinted as The Union (1986) and The Confederacy (1986).
Within the Civil War Series in its History E-Library, the National Park Service provides many chapters covering the history of the Civil War's Black Soldiers.
Fold3 Blog: USCT Service Records Complete through the 138th Infantry
NARA's Prologue Blog: The 150th Anniversary of the United States Colored Troops