Civil War and Later (SC) Pension Application Files Re-Boxing Preservation Project

Our guest blogger today is Dennis Edelin, Chief, Forms Section at Archives I.

On September 26, 2011, the National Archives began a preservation re-boxing project.  The purpose of the project is to re-box the nearly 900,000 Soldier Certificate (“SC”) Civil War and Later pension application files in our custody.  Please note, these records are not leaving the National Archives Building, but are simply undergoing badly needed re-housing.

In order to accomplish our goal of re-boxing the entire series, we need to close access to some of the files while they are being re-boxed.  We will close the files in groups of 10,000 files.  The first group to be closed will be from SC file #9400 thru SC file #20,000.  We estimate that it will take about 4-6 weeks to complete each segment.  An ongoing notice of the closed segments will be maintained in our Finding Aids Room and the Microfilm Research Room at the National Archives Building.

For in-person researchers: If you wish to receive a copy of a pension documents packet contained within a pension file that is closed, you must fill out a reference request slip in the Microfilm Research Room.  We shall mail a complimentary copy of the pension document packet once the records are available.

The pension documents packet will include copies of eight documents that contain genealogical information about the pension applicant—to the extent that these documents are present in the file.  The packet could include copies of any of the following documents: (1) declaration of pension, (2) declaration of widow’s pension, (3) Adjutant General statements of service, (4) questionnaires completed by applicants (numbered forms), (5) “Pension Dropped” cards, (6) marriage certificates, (7) death certificates, (8) discharge certificate.

On-line requests: If you are interested in receiving a copy of the full pension application file, you must submit your request via our website:  These fee-based requests will be handled as soon as possible after the files have been reboxed.

If you have any questions concerning this project, please feel free to contact Dennis Edelin at

One thought on “Civil War and Later (SC) Pension Application Files Re-Boxing Preservation Project

  1. Would that every pension packet did contain all 8 documents specified in your post.

    Pension files frequently contain other valuable materials including but not limited to these items encountered in my personal and professional research:

    — Request for pension or pension increase where the soldier had to state by his signature his wife by her maiden name, birth date, marriage date, divorce if any, death date if any. Also each previous marriage date and location, and any children by each marriage by name and birth date.

    — letters from next of kin circa early 20th century regarding reimbursement of funeral expenses.

    — receipts concerning funeral expenses

    — depositions in support of a widow’s pension from neighbors

    — wedding portrait used by a widow as proof of her marriage.

    — pages torn from a family bible, if not returned by the pension office, used by the widow as proof of her marriage particularly where courthouse records had been burned.

    — letters from a soldier’s service mate, stating he heard his comrade speak of his wife before he died in battle.

    — newspaper article where my grandfather at age ten asked about the whereabouts of his mother who had left two weeks prior to visit her named father in a specific distant town.

    — medical reports including diagrams, signed by a physician, detailing concerns that were either service-related or incident to age.

    — direct info from soldier of his service locations, without always having to compare his service dates with a unit history. (1 case mentions of release from a federal hospital in DC after receiving wounds on the 3rd day at Gettysburg.)

    — address of record of the pensioner or his widow (leads to land records research or old soldiers home record work.)

    Thanks for keeping us informed of the series numbers of the current 10,000 pulled files.

Comments are closed.