United States, Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards (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, Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards,1907-1933 .

Record Description

The collection consists of an index and images of cards used by the Bureau of Pensions and Veterans Administarion to record the payment of pensions to veterans, widows and other dependents. The collection is part of RG 15 Records of the Veterans Administration and is NARA microfilm publication M850.

A pension card was created for every veteran or veteran’s widow who received a pension. There were four types of cards kept. which are referred to as:

  • Army invalids
  • Army widows
  • Navy invalids
  • Navy widows

The form for the four types of cards is practically identical. On the front of the cards for invalid veterans are recorded the name of veteran, his certificate number, his unit or arm of Service, the disability for which pensioned, the law or laws under which pensioned, the class of pension or certificate, the rate of pension, the effective date of pension, the date of the certificate, any fees paid, the name of the pension agency or group transferred from (if applicable), the date of death, the date the Bureau was notified, the former roll number, and 'home.' On the reverse side of the form appears the name of the veteran, his certificate number, and the record of the individual payments. The army and navy widow’s cards are similar to the invalids’ cards with the addition of the widow’s name and occasionally information regarding payments made to minors, but they do not indicate if the veteran had a disability.

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, Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards." NARA microfilm publication M850. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. : n.d.

A full bibliographic record is available in the Family History Library Catalog.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

Key genealogical facts found in the collection are listed below:
  • Name of veteran
  • Veteran’s Unit or arm of service
  • Date of pension
  • Veteran’s death date
  • Veteran’s “home”
  • Veteran’s disability (not included in widows cards)
  • Name of widow (only on widows cards)

Additional information about the contents of these cards is available in the Wiki Article: Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933.

How to Use the Record

To search the collection by name 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 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 you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse" link on the initial search page
⇒Select the "Surname range" category which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

Using the Information

Use pension payment cards to discover information about the veteran’s military service, i.e. his unit, the dates of service, etc., information regarding the veteran’s family, his place of residence, and any disabilities he may have had. The cards can lead to other military service records, and provide clues for further research on the veteran’s family.

General Information About These Records

In 1907 the Bureau of Pensions and Veterans Administration began recording payments of pension with a card system. Pensions were granted to army invalids, army widows, navy invalids and navy widows. The nearly 2 million 5x8 cards are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the veteran or widow. In 1923 payments were changed from monthly to quarterly. Payments that extended through this period were recorded on a second card. 

This collection covers the years from 1907 to 1933. 

The payment cards were created as a method for the government to keep track of the pensions being distributed.

The information in these cards is generally reliable.

Known Issues with This Collecton

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki articleA programming mistake in early 2012 deleted links to all microfilm images for surnames alphabetically after those beginning with "Hec".  There is no way to gain access to the payment cards for the rest of the alphabet until someone gets around to restoring the links.  If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.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.

Related Websites

National Archives and Records Administration

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, Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933." index and images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org): accessed 8 April 2011. Hulda E Abbott, Widow of Wellington H Hipkins; citing Pension Payment Cards, Abbott, H. Emory-Aleita, L. Jesus; Bureau of Pensions and Veterans Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.