United States, Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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United States Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, 1861-1934 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Flag of the United States of America|
|Seal of the National Archives|
|Record Type||Pension Files|
|Record Group||RG 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs|
|National Archives Identifier||300020|
|National Archives and Records Administration|
- 1 What Is in the Collection?
- 2 Collection Content
- 3 What Can This Collection Tell Me?
- 4 How Do I Search the Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Known Issues with This Collection
- 7 Citing This Collection
- 8 How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
What Is in the Collection?
This database on FamilySearch.org is a copy of an index provided by www.fold3.com. The index is to images in pension application files uploaded to the fold3 site. The index on FamilySearch.org is only to the files that have been uploaded. These files can be viewed only on the fold3 site.
Since the FamilySearch database is strictly an index to material on another site, the citation format given below is incorrect. Only this index can be cited from this site. Fold3.com provides complete citation information for the actual files, when a researcher accesses that site to view the documents.
The FamilySearch copy of the fold3.com index to the collection will eventually encompass applications for pension beginning from 1861 to 1934.
This collection consists of approved pension case files of widows and other dependents of soldiers submitted between 1861 and 1934 and sailors between 1910 and 1934. Some files may be for service in the War with Spain. The files are arranged numerically by certificate number. Original files are located at the National Archives in Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration. Index courtesy of Fold3.com (previously Footnote.com). Additional records will be added to this collection as they become available.
From the onset of the Civil War, the US government granted pensions to widows of men who died in service to the Union Army. Then the Pension Dependent Act of 1890 extended benefits to those who could prove that they were the widows of honorably discharged veterans serving the Union for at least ninety days during the Civil War. A widow also had to provide proof of the soldier’s death, unless it resulted from his military service. An applicant could not have any means of support other than her day labor, and her marriage to the soldier had to occur before 17 June 1890, the date of the act.
These records are generally accurate. However, some soldiers used aliases and some lied about their names and ages.
What Can This Collection Tell Me?
This collection may include:
- Soldier's full name
- Name of widow
- Infantry unit
- When soldier was commissioned
- Where soldier was commissioned
- Amount of pension
- Date pension started
- Miscellaneous information about the soldier such as death date and cause of death
How Do I Search the Collection?
To begin your search you need to know:
- The name of the soldier.
- The name of the widow.
- The age and birth place of the solider.
- The military unit in which your soldier served.
- The state and county were your soldier lived.
Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
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.
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
Keep in mind:
- 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 wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
What Do I Do Next?
When you have located your ancestor’s pension file, 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 Who I Was Looking For, What Now?
- Death dates may lead to death certificates, mortuary, or burial records.
- Use the names along with the residence of the widow 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.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- This index is to widow’s pensions, but you will still need some information on the soldier.
- This index is for widows whose husbands died during the war. It does not include widows whose husbands died after the war.
- Indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
- Your ancestor may have used a nickname or an alias. In addition, ages may have been altered to allow men to serve who were not of the appropriate age.
I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, What Now?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Look for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
- 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.
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
Citing This Collection
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. 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. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.
- Collection Citation
- "United States, Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, 1861-1934." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing "Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War Veterans, ca. 1861- ca. 1934." Fold3.com. http://www.fold3.com : 2008. NARA NAID 300020. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
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