United States, General Index to Pension Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United States
United States flag.png
Flag of the United States of America
NARA seal300.jpg
Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Index to Pension Files
Record Group RG 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Collection years 1861-1934
Microfilm Publication T288. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. 544 rolls.
Arrangement Alphabetically by the surname of the veteran
National Archives Identifier 563268
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This 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.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Pension files often include the following information:

  • Name of the person claiming the pension
  • Service record of the soldier, including rank, company, and regiment
  • Age
  • 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

Collection Content

Sample Image

How Do I Search This Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the soldier with the pension.
  • The age and birth place of the soldier.
  • The state and county where the solider lived.
  • The dates of military service.
  • The military unit in which the solider served.

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page
Select Surname Range

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.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor in the General Index to Pension Files, 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.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • 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.
  • 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.

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • 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.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"United States, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing NARA microfilm publication T288. Washington, D.C.: Veterans Administration, Publications Service, n.d.

Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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