United States, Civil War Widows Pension Files (Family Search Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: United States, Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, 1861-1934 .

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Collection Time Period

The collection covers the years 1861 to 1934.

What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of approved pension case files of widows and other dependents of soldiers submitted between 1861 and 1934 and sailors between 1910 and 1934. Some files may be from service in the War with Spain.

The files are arranged numerically by certificate number. The original files are located at the National Archives in Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration; the index is courtesy of www.fold3.com (previously known as Footnote.com). Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available.

Collection Content

The records generally contain the following information:

  • Pensioner's name
  • Veteran's name
  • Relationship to veteran
  • Application number
  • State or country of birth
  • Year of birth or age
  • Branch of service (Infantry, Cavalry, or Artillery)
  • Regiment number
  • Enlistment date
  • Discharge date
  • Date pension was filed
  • Application number
  • Certificate number
  • May also contain additional service information, including company and regiment

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search you will need to know the following:

  • Full name
  • Approximate dates of service

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.

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.

For example:

  • 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.

Record History

The index was produced to provide easier access to the full pension application files.

Why the Record Was Created

Pensions were issued to compensate Civil War veterans and their widows and minor children for their service.

Record Reliability

Pension applications are usually reliable.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection citation:

"United States Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, 1861-1934." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. From "Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War Veterans, ca. 1861- ca. 1934." Database. Fold3.com. http://www.fold3.com : 2008. Citing NARA NAID 300020. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Record citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for United States Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, 1861-1934.