United States, Index to General Correspondence of the Pension Office (FamilySearch 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, Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, 1889-1904 .

Collection Time Period

This collection covers the years from 1889 through 1904.

Record Description

This collection is a card index to general correspondence received by the Record and Pension Office. The cards usually give the name of the soldier, unit in which served, name of the person or office making the inquiry, subject of the inquiry, and file number. The cards are organized alphabetically in a phonetic system. There may be multiple cards for one subject depending on the number of inquiries made.

Record Content

The “Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, 1889-1904” indexes two groups of records held at the National Archives and Records Administration, as shown below:

  • “Document File, 1889-1904.” The Document File collection contains information about volunteer soldiers and regular military personnel including information on battles, desertions, requests for certificates of discharge, personnel policies, and other records.
  • “Records Cards, 1889-1904.” The Record Cards collection includes copies of the responses of the Record and Pension Office and the sources they used.

To find descriptions of these record groups, visit the [http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/ National Archives online catalog and enter these ARC identifiers: 300385 (Document File) and 588796 (Record Cards).

Key genealogical facts found in this collection are listed below:

  • Name of soldier
  • Unit of service
  • Name of person/office making the inquiry (sometimes the soldier himself)
  • Subject of inquiry

How to Use the Record

The index cards are arranged by the name of the soldier or other subject of inquiry. Surnames are arranged alphabetically in a phonetic system. If the subject of inquiry was a military unit it was generally filed under the name of its commanding officer. These records may lead to pension files and other helpful military records.

Record History

In 1889, the Record and Pension Office was established in order to consolidate the information regarding military soldiers and volunteers. The office had the responsibility of keeping the military and medical records of the volunteer forces and the medical records for the regular army. They were responsible for all of the business relating to these records.
Inquiries made to the Record and Pension office cover a wide range of subjects and time periods. Some of the inquiries regard soldiers who served in the Revolutionary war, while others pertain to soldiers living at the time who were in need of documentation, or proof of service.

Why This Record Was Created

As correspondence was received by the pension office, it was filed and indexed onto cards. Inquiries were sometimes made by the soldier himself, a governmental office, or others. The correspondence included requests for the following: certificates of discharge, certificates in lieu of lost discharge papers, medals of honor, removal of charges for desertion, information needed for admission to homes for disabled soldiers or to complete the records of adjutants general of States, and information relating to the strength or service of the organizational units.

Record Reliability

The cards index the correspondence received from 1889-1904, but the subject matter can range from as early as the Revolutionary War to the those who were alive at the time of the inquiry. Some of the cards will indicate the war in which the individual served, but others only list the company or division.

Related Web Sites

National Archives and Records Administration Online Catalog

[1] Information on ordering files from the National Archives

Related Wiki Articles


Contributions to This Article

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.

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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should also 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: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection

"United States, Index to General Correspondance of the Pension Office, 1889-1904." index and images, FamilySearch ([2]): accessed 8 April 2011. entry for John Boukhead; citing Pension Office Correspondance, Bank-Bark, image 63; War Department Record and Pension Office.

Sources of Information for This Collection

"U.S. Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, 1889-1904," database, FamilySearch ([3]); citing War Department, Record and Pension Office. FHL microfilm, 385 rolls. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah