In 2012, in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, FamilySearch.org partnered with the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Archives, Ancestry.com, fold3, and others to begin raising funds to digitize and publish the War of 1812 pension files.
Due to high usage at the National Archives, these records are rapidly deteriorating. Efforts to preserve them through digitization must move forward as quickly as possible to prevent the loss of valuable pension records. Once digitized, these records will be made available to the public for free on the fold3 website. To date, over 50% of the pensions have been digitized. The pensions are being digitized in alphabetical order. Surnames from A through L are complete and the M’s are rapidly going online nearly every day. Still, there is a lot of work left to make sure this priceless collection of military pension records is preserved.
There are more than 7.2 million pages of records in this collection. Aside from requests for pensions, it’s not unusual to find some of the following information contained in these pension files:
- Marriage certificate information with date and place information
- Family bible pages
- Wife’s maiden name
- Residency information
- Other spouses
- Names of children
- Bounty land
- Military service details
- Discharge certificates
- Family letters into the 1900s
- Death date and place
- Names of parents
- War diaries
- Physical description of soldiers
The War of 1812 pension files is a treasure trove for anyone doing early American family research.
This preservation project is a community effort. It gets no funding from government tax dollars. We still need help from everyone who might be interested in preserving this valuable part of early American history.
To learn more about what is being done to preserve the pension files of the War of 1812, visit the Preserve the Pensions website. You will learn how you and others can help move this project closer to completion.
Visit the Facebook page, Preserving War of 1812 Pensions, to read the latest news and developments with the Pension project, and visit the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions Facebook group to join in the discussion about using the pension records.
The FamilySearch War of 1812 Pension Records index includes all surnames. Until all the pension files are digitized, this index is helpful if your ancestor’s name begins with M through Z.
Visit the War of 1812 page at FamilySearch.org to discover if you have War of 1812 ancestors and see their pension records.