United States Navy Widows' Certificates (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: United States Navy Widows' Certificates, 1861-1910 .
This collection is an index to approximately 20,000 pension application files of widows and other dependents of U.S. Navy veterans who served between 1861 and 1910. The applications are commonly referred to as "Navy Widows' Certificates.” Prior to approval, applications were termed "originals." When claims were approved, a new file number was issued, and the records were referred to as "certificates." This collection corresponds to “NARA publication M1279: Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans, ('Navy Widows' Certificates'), 1861-1910.” The index is arranged alphabetically and numerically.
This is an index to the Widows’ Certificates Collection, which was compiled from documents submitted by applicants (which include proof of their relationships to the veterans) and also from records created by the government (such as requests for documentation, certificates, or more information). The information in this index is quite reliable. However, keep in mind that even though this index is very accurate it still may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings or misinterpretations.
Information found in this collection may include:
- Navy veteran’s full name
- Rank and rate of pay
- Pay commenced on what date
- Name of wife and children
- Petitioner's full name
- Petitioner's relationship to veteran
- Application number
- Certificate number
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know
- Your ancestor’s full name
- Identifying information such as names of spouse and children
Search the Collection
To search the collection by name fill in the requested information in the boxes on 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.
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Add this new information to your records. If you want to find further information about your ancestor, the pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records. For example:
- Use death dates to look for death certificates, mortuary records, or burial 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.
Keep in mind that this is only an index to applications that were approved by the government. There are other case files at the National Archives and Records Administration (publication M1274 and M1391) that contain the applications that were rejected for various reasons.
National Archives description of the Navy Widows’ Certificates
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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.
Citation for This Collection
- "United States Navy Widows' Certificates, 1861-1910." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing "Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Widows' Certificates), 1861-1910." Fold3.com. http://www.fold3.com : n.d.