United States Navy Widows' Certificates (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

Collection Time Period

This is an index to records for the years 1861 to 1910.

Record Description

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.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Widows' Certificates), 1861-1910, Index; from National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. M1279. Digital copies from Footnote.com.

Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.

Record Content

Most of the index entries include the following information:

  • Veteran’s full name
  • Pensioner’s full name
  • Pensioner’s relationship to veteran
  • Application number
  • Certificate number
  • Reference information

How to Use the Record

To search for your ancestor in the index, you will need to know the ancestor’s full name. Check the index for the surname and then the given name. Use the locator information found in the index (such as application or certificate number) to locate your ancestor in the records. 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 or misinterpretations. If the information was scanned, the index may include optical character recognition errors.

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 (for example, the applicant and the ancestor) to make this determination.

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.

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.

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.

Record History

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).

Why the Record Was Created

This index was created to provide easier access to the Widows’ Certificates Collection.

Record Reliability

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.

Related Websites

National Archives description of the Navy Widows’ Certificates

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

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 keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for Records Found in This Collection

"United States, Navy Widows' Certificates, 1871-1910."  dayabase, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org: accessed 8 April 2011), Melissa A Brown, widow of William H Brown; citing Navy Widows' Certificates, certificate 1526. NARA publication number M1279; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.


 

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