Navy Survivors' Certificates
Records: 39,387 · Complete: 96%
by Craig R. Scott, CG
This series of images consists of approximately 26,000 approved pension application files of US Navy veterans who served between 1861 and 1910. The applications are commonly referred to as "Navy Survivors' Certificates." Applications prior to their approval were termed "originals." When claims were approved, a new file number was issued and they were then referred to as "certificates." "NSCs" refers to Navy Survivors' Certificates. This series is also known as the "Civil War and Later Navy Survivors' Certificates." They are arranged numerically by certificate or file number, ranging between NSC 707 and NSC 42,035, with gaps.
The Fold3 description for Navy Widows' Certificates, 1861-1910, M1279, provides background material for records very similar to those within this title.
The images shown here are examples of the types of documents you will find within the approved Navy Survivors' Certificates. They include papers relating to the file for Charles M. Scott, certificate number 5860. Pilot Scott was the inventor of the Mississippi signal system for ships passing on the Mississippi River. He also invented the “Boiler Plate Protector” for pilots making the pilot house the safest place aboard ship on the river.
A typical pension may consist of the original application and jacket, a brief of the pension case prepared by the Pension Bureau, a statement of service records supplied by either the War or Navy Department, affidavits, and other documentary evidence in support of the claim. There may also be correspondence from interested persons. Occasionally, there will be a discharge certificate, a death certificate, and claims relating to burial expenses.
There are four kinds of records:
- those created by the government to store the records and keep track of the pension office pensioner interaction, such as envelopes, file folders and tri-folded wrappers, and cross reference cards that indicate file consolidations;
- records provided by the applicant and others in support of the application, such as applications, statements of service, affidavits, depositions, birth records, marriage records, death records, discharge papers, medical records and papers relating to burial expense claims. Occasionally, pages from family bibles, photographs, personal letters, and other family memorabilia were submitted by a widow as proof of marriage(s) or birth;
- records created by the government during the process of confirming eligibility for a pension under the pension law in force at the time of the review, such as letter requests, agency responses, approvals, and certificates. These also include papers from members of Congress, pensioners, and others relating to the progress of the claim; and correspondence with offices of the Department of the Treasury concerning verification of service, dates of discharge or death, and pay;
- records created after the pension has been approved, such as drop orders, requests for increases, and medical examinations.
Using the collection
This publication is a compilation of approved Navy pensions covering applications made during the period 1861 to about 1910. It includes important information for the researcher, such as information about the sailor including name, age, residence, date and place of birth. In addition, information about the nature and extent of military service is often included.
Information about naval commands with which a veteran served, details of battles and campaigns, and other documentation concerning the veteran's service may also be included in some pension application files.
You can locate an approved pension through the alphabetical hierarchy in the browse menu. Select the first letter of the last name, then the first two letters of the surname, locate the surname, followed by his given name in the next section of browse titles. You can also search on the sailor’s name using the search box.
The images in this collection represent the approved pension files for Navy veterans. Pension claims were disapproved or rejected if the service of the veteran could not be verified; if the injury, disability, or death was unrelated to military service; or if the veteran on whose service the claim was based deserted or was dishonorably discharged. Claims for pensions were abandoned if the veteran died and left no other dependents. Claims for pensions were assigned an "original" application number. Disallowed or abandoned claims retained this "original" number and were referred to as "originals."
The disapproved pension files are found in M1274, Case Files of Disapproved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans ("Navy Widows' Originals"), 1861-1910, and M1391, Lists of Navy Veterans for Whom There are Navy Widows' and Other Dependents' Disapproved Pension Files ("Navy Widows' Originals"), 1861- 1910.
At Fold3, you will find the "Civil War Pension Index," or Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, (NARA T289), which is organized by unit rather than alphabetically by surname. Although it primarily lists Army veterans, its miscellaneous section does list naval personnel.
Explore this title
Search or browse the Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Survivors' Certificates), 1861-1910 here.
The records shown here are scanned from the National Archives microfiche publication, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Survivors' Certificates), 1861-1910, M1469. The original records are located in Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 – 2001 in the National Archives.
There is no NARA descriptive pamphlet available for this publication.
About the contributor
A professional genealogical and historical researcher for more than twenty years, Craig R Scott is a Certified Genealogist who specializes in the records of the National Archives, especially those that relate to the military. He is a member of the Company of Military Historians, on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and has served in the past on the boards of the Virginia Genealogical Society and the Maryland Genealogical Society. He is the author of The 'Lost Pensions': Settled Accounts of the Act of 6 April 1838 and Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Inventory 14 (Revised).