United States, General Index to Pension Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 .
What is in the Collection?
The collection consists of the name index to pension files held at the National Archives. The files relate to service between 1861 and 1934. 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 in alphabetical order.
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 applications are usually reliable, depending on the memory of the applicant and the records to which he had access.
|You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.|
Pension files often include the following 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
How Do I Search the Collection?
To begin your search it is helpful to know:
- Name of the Pensioner
- Other identifying information such as residence, age or details of their military service
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 individuals 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 look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
What Do I Do Next?
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 a birth date.
- Use the death dates to search for death certificates, mortuary, or cemetery records.
- Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date.
- Use the birth date 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.
What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.
- Case Files of Approved Applications of veterans Who Served in the Army and Navy Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain ("Civil War and Later Survivors' Certificates")
- Case Files of Disapproved Pension Applications of veterans of the Army and Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain
- Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of the Army and Navy Who Served in the Civil War and the War with Spain
- Microfilm Publication T288:General Index to Pension Files
- National Archives General Index to Civil War and Later Pension Files
- NARA Civil War Pension Application Process
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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.
- "United States, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication T288. Washington, D.C.: Veterans Administration, Publications Service, n.d.
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, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.|
|The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.|