United States, Old War Pension Index (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, Old War Pension Index, 1815-1926 .

Record Description

The collection consists of a card index to pension files located at the National Archives for service in the Regular Army, Navy or Marine Corps between 1783 and 1861. This collection is part of RG 15 Records of the Veterans Administration and is NARA microfilm publications T316. The event date and place represent the earliest filing of either the veteran or dependent.

For a list of records by surnames currently published in this collection, select the Browse.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

Veterans Administration. United States, old war pension index. National Archives, Washington D.C.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

The index cards ask for the following information, but the information listed varies:

US Old War Index DGS 5189116 49.jpg
  • Name
  • Names and class of dependents
  • Branch of service
  • Rank
  • Enlistment date
  • Discharge date
  • Additional service information
  • Date of filing
  • Class
  • Application filing number
  • Certificate number
  • File number
  • Bounty land information
  • Other remarks

How to Use the Record

To begin your search for you will need to know your ancestor's full name and some other identifying information such as the names of their dependents.

Search the Collection

To search the collection by name, fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors 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 compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

To search the collection image by image, select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒ Select the Surname Range which takes you to the images.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

Using the Information

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:

  • The application or certificate number will lead you to the full pension record.
  • The enlistment date and branch of service will lead you to the military service record.
  • The service information may lead to a death or cemetery record.
  • The bounty land information may lead you to a land grant record.
  • The name and class of dependents can help you compile a family record.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • 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, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
  • Even though names are searchable, alias names are grouped with “or” in both the given name and surname. This could be confusing to patrons. We need to work on a better solution so that the individual’s name and their alias don’t appear all together with or’s.
  • The dependent’s name who is receiving the pension doesn’t show up on the result list if you search on the soldier’s name. If you search on the dependent’s name, the soldier’s name doesn’t show up. There has been some discussion with Randy Wilson about this. Nothing can be done right now but further discussions are warranted because there are many more of these collections. The dependent’s name would be helpful information in the result list, especially if the soldier’s name is common.

Related Websites

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.

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

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 a Record Found in This Collection

"United States, Old War Pension Index, 1815-1926:"  images,  FamilySearch  (https:/;/familysearch.org:  accessed 29 August 2012).   United States, Old War Pension Index, 1815-1926 > Briscoe, William - Duncan, Alexander > Image 6 of 4571, William C Burnell; citing Veterans Administration. United States, old war pension index. National Archives, Washington D.C.