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United States Gotoarrow.png U.S. Military Gotoarrow.png U.S. Civil War Gotoarrow.png Pension Records

The pension law governing claims based on death or disability from military service was passed on 14 July 1862. Later pension laws were based on length of service and disability not necessarily incurred in the service. Beginning in 1892 women who were employed as nurses by the government were also eligible for pensions.

Contents

Civil War Pension Index Cards

Organization Index

The "Organization Index to Pension Files", an index to pension applications, is available online. Officially called the "Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900" (NARA T289). Despite the name, the records actually cover veterans who served in the US Army between 1861-1917. Each card gives the soldier’s name, application and certificate numbers, state of enlistment, and might include rank and death information. The majority of the records are of Civil War veterans, but the collection also includes records for veterans of other wars from the same time period.

See "Civil War ‘Widows’ Pensions" section below for information on how to obtain the actual pension records.

General Index

The "General Index to Pension Files" officially the "General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934" (NARA T288) is available online. This index is similar to the "Organization Index" mentioned above. It is arranged in a different format, however, and the information on the cards is slightly different. The index is arranged by the veteran’s or widow’s name and his unit, rank, date and application number, certificate number if accepted, and state of filing. As mentioned above, the pension files that this index and the "Organizational Index" refer to have not been filmed and are only available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

See "Civil War ‘Widows’ Pensions" section below for information on how to obtain the actual pension records.

Civil War ‘Widows’ Pensions

The actual pension records that the "Organization Index" and "General Index" refer to are currently only available through the National Archives. Fold3.com is in the process of digitizing records of approved pension applications for the years 1861-1910, the "Civil War "Widows' Pensions". These records have never been microfilmed and are being digitized directly from the original documents. The process is very slow and may take quite some time. You can check their progress at Fold3.com. For information on how to order pension records from the National Archives see requesting copies of Civil War service and pension records.

As of December 2011, only 3 percent of the pension records are available online. The "Civil War ‘Widows’ Pensions" are available to access at no charge at any library that provides free access to Fold3.com.

Online

1883 Pension Roll

The 1883 Pension Roll is available online. On December 8, 1882, the U.S. Senate required the Secretary of Interior to submit a list of pensioners on the roll January 1, 1883. The Secretary of Interior submitted the completed list to the Senate on March 1, 1883.[1] The 1883 Pension Roll was published that year in five volumes as "List of Pensioners on the Roll, January 1, 1883...". The majority of pensioners listed were from the Civil War. However, there were pensioners from other wars, including the War of 1812.

Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907–1933

The Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907–1933 (NARA M850) (Worldcat) collection is useful for veterans who were on the pension rolls between 1907 and 1933, except World War I pensioners. About two million cards record payment to veterans and widows. The veteran’s name, unit or branch of service, certificate number, law under which pensioned, rate of pension, pension date, date of certificate, place of residence, death date, former roll number, and widow’s name may be included on the cards.

Online

A wiki article describing the above online collection is found at:

Index to General Correspondence, 1889-1904

The "Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, 1889-1904" (NARA M686) contains index cards to the correspondence received at the Record and Pension Office. Abstracts of the communications and copies or drafts of replies to them were recorded on cards, which were given the same number as the incoming correspondence. The cards generally include the name of the soldier, the organization in which he served, the name of the person or office who made the inquiry, the subject of the inquiry, and the file number.[2]

Online

Note: The FamilySearch collection is missing surname ranges “Dunf-Durd” (roll 107), “Hern-Hia” (roll 163), and “Shee-Shep” (roll 310).

Libraries

Navy Pension Records

Navy Widows' Certificates

The "Navy Widows' Certificates" or "Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans, ('Navy Widows' Certificates'), 1861-1910" (NARA M1279) consists of approved pension applications of widows and other dependents of U.S. Navy veterans who served between 1861 and 1910. Applications prior to approval were referred to as "originals", after approval a new file number was issued and they then became known as "certificates".

To learn more about the Navy Widows' Certificates see an explanation of the records at Fold3.

Online

A wiki article describing the above online collection is found at:

Navy Survivors' Certificates

The "Navy Survivors' Certificates" or "Case files of approved pension applications of Civil War and later Navy veterans (Navy Survivor's Certificates), 1861-1910" (NARA M1469) consists of approved pension applications of U.S. Navy veterans who served between 1861 and 1910. Applications prior to approval were referred to as "originals", after approval a new file number was issued and they then became known as "certificates'.

To learn more about the Navy Widows' Certificates see an explanation of the records at Fold3.

Online

Other Navy Pension Records

  • Navy Widows' Originals (M1274). Disapproved pension applications of widows and other dependents of U.S. Navy veterans. (FHL fiche 6333626-802)
  • Navy Survivors' Originals (M1408). Disapproved pension applications of U.S. Navy veterans.

With the exception of the FHL microfiche for the Navy Widows' Originals, the Navy Widows' Originals and the Navy Survivors' Originals collections are currently only available from the National Archives.

Additional Resources

Additional pension records are available at state archives and historical societies.

Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926

  • A small number of Civil War soldiers are mentioned in the "Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926" (NARA T316). The records are available online. Civil War soldiers are usually only included if they were members of the regular army and had served prior to the Civil War.

FamilySearch Research Classes

Military Records: Pre-WWI Pension Applications (16 minute online video) FamilySearch Research Classes Online, 2010.

References

  1. United States. Pension Bureau. List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883: giving the name of each pensioner, the cause for which pensioned, the post-office address, the rate of pension per month, and the date of original allowance, as called for by Senate resolution of December 8, 1882, Volume One. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1883.
  2. United States. National Archives and Records Service. Pamphlet Describing M686: Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, 1889-1904. Washington, D.C., National Archives And Record Service, 1967.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 22 April 2012, at 22:43.
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