Classroom Tips

  • Ask students why they think the information in this muster roll was important to record. Why would the army include skin complexion and height in their record keeping? Are there other details students think should have been included? Why or why not?
  • Pair this primary source document with the Mount Vernon web page “Music in the Revolutionary War.” On this page, you will find information and video resources on different signals drummers and fifers performed in the army. Use this page in conjunction with the muster roll to explore different aspects of the soldier experience. Soldiers serving in the army were assigned different positions, and musicians were one of those critical jobs. What other jobs were important to the success of the army?
  • The average age of soldiers who served in the Continental Army was 18-20 years old. Some soldiers were as young as 14 years old. Ask students to determine the average age of the men in this muster roll by adding together all the listed ages and dividing that number by the total number of men listed (the answer is 24). What can students infer from this answer? Was this group of soldiers in Massachusetts older or younger than the average soldier in the Continental Army? Discuss with students why men in their late teens and early twenties might be more likely to serve in the army as opposed to older men.
  • Although this muster roll only lists one African-American soldier, there were thousands who served during the Revolutionary War on both sides. After the war, several African-American veterans filed petitions to receive pensions for their service in the Continental Army. Pairing these records with the muster roll will allow students a broader perspective of the African-American experience during the Revolutionary War. To find examples of these primary source documents, visit the United States National Archives website under veteran records website and search within the Case Files of Pensions and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service. Searching the following names will bring up records of African-Americans who served in the Continental Army.
    • Jehu Grant
    • Caesar Clark
    • Agrippa Hull
  • Pair this primary source with a letter from George Washington to John Hancock from December 1776. Instruct students to read the letter and identify the challenges Washington faced during the war. Why is Washington writing to Hancock about this? What does Washington specifically ask for in this letter? In conjunction with the Continental Army Muster Roll, what can this letter tell you about life in the Continental Army? 

Classroom Materials downloads are ZIP files that include, when available: document images (JPEGs), document transcripts (PDF as well as Word and/or Excel files), and ready to use classroom resources (activities, discussion prompts, lesson plans, etc.). These materials are available for educational uses only. If you would like to reproduce them in any other medium, please contact Dawn Bonner, Manager of Visual Resources.


This document is a Continental Army Muster Roll showing recruits from Springfield, Massachusetts in 1779. The roll documents the one hundred men who signed up to serve in the army for nine months. It lists hometown, country, age, stature, complexion, and time of arrival.

Buy Tickets What to Do Calendar Shop Restaurant Support Membership
Estate Hours

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save