29 November 2007

A Presidential Pension




One of my recent discoveries on the Civil War Pension Index at Footnote.com was the index card for Ulyssse S. Grant, who would later be United States President.


Our earlier post about this index made mention of the fact that there are pensionsers from other periods of service included besides the Civil War.

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Ordering US Civil War Pension Records

There are two ways to order pension and military records from the US National and Records Administration:

1) Order online


2) Request an Order Form (NATF85) sent to you by mail. There are several options to do this

Give your name and mailing address, the form number and the number of forms you need (limit five per order).

  • Request the form (NATF85) using the Order Form
  • Request the form (NATF85) using email inquire@nara.gov
  • Request the form (NATF85) using US mail- Write to NARA at this address:
    The National Archives and Records Administration General Reference Branch (NNRG-P) National Archives and Records Administration 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20408
  • Request the form (NATF85) by telephone (202) 501-5652

There is more information on pensions and what they contain on our site.

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23 October 2007

US Civil War Pensions to be digitized

For Immediate Release October 23, 2007

National Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU)Announce Digitizing Partnership

Washington, D.C.

Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein and Wayne Metcalfe, vice president of the Genealogical Society of Utah,today announced a five-year partnership agreement to digitize case files of approved pension applications of widows of Civil War Union soldiers from the National Archives.

GSU has many years of experience microfilming historical records at the National Archives and throughout the world and in recent years has moved to providing digital capture and publishing services. Digitization makes possible unprecedented access to the unique historic documents in the custody of the National Archives.This partnership will begin with a pilot project to digitize, index,and make available the first 3,150 of the pension files.

Upon successful completion of the pilot, GSU, doing business as FamilySearch, in conjunction with
Footnote.com, intends to digitize and index all 1,280,000 Civil War and later widows' files in the series. These records, of great interest to genealogists and others, are currently available only at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.The widows' pension application files, a rich source of information about ordinary American citizens of the time, include supporting documents such as affidavits, depositions of witnesses, marriage certificates, birth records, death certificates, and pages from family bibles."

"For a number of years we have had a very productive relationship with FamilySearch," said Professor Allen Weinstein. "This agreement expands our relationship to enable online access to some of the most popular and voluminous records in our holdings. It is an exciting step forward for our institutions and for the American people," he added."There is an unbelievable treasure trove of genealogical information housed in the records of the National Archives; the vast majority of which genealogy enthusiasts have never seen," said Wayne Metcalfe."The growing digital collection and indices that will stem from this relationship will be a priceless resource for countless family historians and researchers."

FamilySearch will make the digitized materials available for free through
http://www.familysearch.org/ and in 4500 family history centers worldwide, or on a subscription-based website operated by a third party,subject to National Archives approval. They will also be available at no charge in National Archives' research rooms in Washington, DC, and regional facilities across the country. In addition, FamilySearch will donate to the National Archives a copy of all the digital images and the associated indexes and other metadata that they create.This agreement is one of a series of agreements that the National Archives has reached or will reach with partners to digitize portions of its holdings.

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Michael's Comment:
I've known this was coming for several months---needless to say I am extremely excited that these fragile records will be preserved and that a public announcement can be made!

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23 September 2007

Proof of the Pension is in the Reading...

My latest article has been published on Ancestry.com's blog.

The Proof of the Pension is in the Reading went live sometime today. It discusses a Revolutionary War Pension file that provided numerous clues about a family's life in the early nineteenth century. The pension proves the family's migration from New Jersey into Pennsylvania and eventually into Ohio. And there's much more.

We've posted a few images from this pension file on our website. The family of Elam and Katherine Blain has been an interesting one to research and descendants are welcome to fire off an email to me as my wife is a descendant of the family.

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11 May 2007

Federal Civil War Pension Indexes

There are three finding aids to federal Civil War Pensions. They are NOT the SAME.

There are:

1) “General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.” T288. 544 rolls. This index is strictly alphabetical.
Scroll down--there is information on other microfilm publications besides T288. This index is also

2) “Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900.” T289. 765 rolls. 16mm. [rolls 1-400].(Scroll partially down the page as there is information on other microfilm publications on this page.) This index is not by soldier, but rather by unit. The cards are arranged alphabetically by state, then by arm of service (infantry, cavalry, artillery), then numerically by regiment, and then alphabetically by veteran's surname. The information is similar to the information contained on the General Index to Pension Files T288.

3) “Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933.” M850. 2,539 rolls. [rolls 1-1000].

NARA has all three. The Family History Library has all three. Ancestry.com has 1 online and Footnote.com
has 2 online.

Our article on pension records discusses them in more detail. Know what you are searching and do not let anyone tell you these are the same index. They are not.

Remember: the educated genealogist makes better decisions and does better research. The uninformed builds his own brick walls around himself.

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05 February 2007

Write Your Congressman


I never thought my family was the kind to write letters to their Congressman.
Apparently my great-great-grandmother was just that kind of person--especially when it involved her pension. One has to admire her gumption, she didn't even wait to get home to Illinois to write her complaint (she likely was visiting her daughter in Minnesota).
Nancy was denied a pension several times, but was finally approved.
We're a stubborn bunch (and apparently a little outspoken too).

Civil War Pensions are WONDERFUL documents. Treat yourself to your ancestor's Civil War pension file---it'll be a great history lesson. Mine certainly have been.

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