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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course United States: Institutional Records  by Amy Johnson Crow, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).


Homes for Veterans and Their Families

During the Civil War, many children were left fatherless and many more families lost the bulk of their income while the husband was off to war. It was during this time that homes for veterans and their families began to open. Many more opened in the years immediately following the war. These homes were opened by the federal government, states, and veterans groups such as the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Veterans Homes

The first federal home for veterans was the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (Central Branch) in Dayton, Ohio. A short time later other homes opened in Togus, Maine; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Hampton, Virginia. These homes were open to honorably discharged Union veterans who were disabled due to their service. It is important to note that the criteria for admission to these homes was less stringent than for drawing a federal pension; many in these homes did not draw a pension.[1]

Other federal veterans’ homes were opened in Sawtelle, California; Danville, Illinois; Marion, Indiana; Leavenworth, Kansas; Bath, New York; Roseburg, Oregon; Hot Springs, South Dakota; and Johnson City, Tennessee. The most genealogically significant record of the federal veterans’ homes is the soldier’s register (National Archives microfilm publication M1749). It is divided into four parts: service history, domestic history (including next of kin), home history (date of admission, etc.), and general remarks. The records are indexed by branch (home)—12 indices in all. If you live near a library that is a US Documents Repository (many large public and university libraries are), you should have access to the annual reports to Congress. They are also good sources of information.

Most states have their own veterans home. Records of these are the same as for other state institutions - admissions registers, death registers, etc.

You can find a listing of state veterans homes, their contact information and links to their websites at . Some homes were open not only to veterans, but to their widows and children as well. In some states, as you will see, opened separate facilities for veterans’ orphans.

Figure: Veterans’ Roster from Massachusetts 1882


Veterans' Orphans' Homes

With so many children being left fatherless or destitute because of the Civil War, many state opened homes specifically for these children. Their records resemble those of other orphanages—admission records generally being the most genealogically significant. Figure 25 shows the admissions of students in the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans Home, 1908-1909.[2]

These homes doubled as schools for those living there. The Figure below shows the children learning trades in the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans Home, 1908-1909.[3]


The Poorhouse Story website:[Http:// ]
An excellent resource for links to poorhouse records, histories, photos, etc. It also has the appendix from the Bureau of the Census’ Special Report,Paupers in Almshouses, 1904 (Government Printing Office, 1906) summarizing the laws of each state.

Veterans Administration

Veterans Benefits and Services’ ‘Nationwide Gravesite Locator’. Online[Http:// v1] Listing of burial records for VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries and other military cemeteries. Many of the dead in these cemeteries spent at least some time in a federal or state veterans home.

Figure: Admissions - Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans Home 1908-1909

Admissions Ohio12V.jpg

Figure: Learning Trades - Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans Home 1908-1909
Learning Trades12V.jpg


  1. Sayre, Richard, 'Soldiers" Homes - A Rich and Untapped Resource', NGS NewsMagazine vol. 29, no. 2 (March/April 2003), 47.
  2. First Biennial Report of the Board of Trustees and Officers of the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home(n.p.: n. pub., 1909), 55.
  3. Ibid., 65.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course US: Institutional Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

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