United States, General Index to Pension Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: United States, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 .
The collection consists of the name index to pension files held at the National Archives. The files relate to service between 1861 and 1934. Most of the files are for Union Civil War service but also include the War with Spain, Philippine Insurrection, Boxer Rebellion and Regular U.S. military forces. The index is in alphabetical order.
State and federal governments filed pension records so as to keep track of the fund leaving the treasuries to support the veterans and widows of wars. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then obtained this collection to help individuals find information about their ancestors.
Pension applications are usually reliable, depending on the memory of the applicant and the records to which he had access.
For a list of records by surnames currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- "United States, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing NARA microfilm publication T288. Washington, D.C.: Veterans Administration, Publications Service, n.d.
Pension files often include the following genealogical information:
- Name of the person claiming the pension
- Service record of the soldier, including rank, company, and regiment
- Enlistment date
- Discharge date
- Date pension was filed
- Whether an invalid, widow, or minor
- Application number
- Certificate number
- Additional service information, including company and regiment
- Death date of the soldier
- Death place of the soldier
The index to pension files also includes:
- Film number
- Digital image numbers
- Surname range
How to Use the Record
Fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
If you are having difficulty finding your ancestor, look for variations in the spelling of the name. If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. This information will often lead you to other records. For example:
- Death dates may lead to death certificates, mortuary, or cemetery records.
- Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date.
- Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been seeking the pension.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"United States, General Index to Pension Files 1861-1934" images, FamilySearch (https://familySearch.org: accessed 18 January 2012). Mary E. Baker, widow of Jacob L Baker; citing Pension Files, Baker, Jacob-Baldwin, Julius A., image 72; National Archives and Records Center, Washington D.C., United States.