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 scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.|
Collection Time Period
This index covers service files between the years 1861 and 1916.
This is a name index to pension files held at the National Archives. 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 alphabetical.
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
Use this index to help you learn more about your ancestors, whether war achievements or previously unknown biological information. To search for your ancestors in the index you will need to know their full names.
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.
Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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.
- 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.
You may also find these search tips helpful:
- 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.
The index was produced to provide easier access to the full pension application files.
Why the Record Was Created
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.
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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 following link: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
- United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71
- Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023
Sources of Information for This Collection
United States. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. NARA publication T288. United States. Federal Archives and Records Center. Washington D.C.