Navy Widows' Certificates
Records: 19,805 · Complete: 100%
by Craig R. Scott, CG
This series of images consists of approximately 20,000 approved pension application files of widows and other dependents of US Navy veterans who served between 1861 and 1910. The applications are commonly referred to as "Navy Widows' Certificates." Applications prior to approval were termed "originals." When claims were approved, a new file number was issued and they were then referred to as "certificates." "NWC" refers to Navy Widows' Certificates. This series is also known as the "Civil War and Later Navy Widows' Certificates." They are arranged numerically by certificate or file number, ranging between NWC 623 and NWC 21,617.
The images shown here are examples of the types of documents you will find within the approved Navy Widows' Certificates. They include papers relating to the file for Catharine Scott, Widow of Thomas Scott, certificate number 809.
Each file consists of applications of one or more claimants based on the service of an individual veteran. 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; and
- records created after the pension has been approved, such as drop orders, requests for increases, and medical examinations.
Using the Collection
The collection 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 military service of the sailor, the circumstances of the death of the sailor, information about the marriage of the sailor to the applicant, information about the children of the sailor under the age of sixteen and information about the associates of the applicants, such as relatives and neighbors. In addition, 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.
The images in this collection represent the approved pension files for Navy widows and other dependents. 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 (available on Fold3), and M1391, Lists of Navy Veterans for Whom There are Navy Widows' and Other Dependents' Disapproved Pension Files ("Navy Widows' Originals"), 1861- 1910.
T289, Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, which is organized by unit rather than alphabetically by surname. Although it primarily lists army veterans, its miscellaneous section does list naval personnel.
Citation and source
Citation example for this image
“Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Widows' Certificates), 1861-1910,” digital images, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 4 March 2008); Kate Nickerson, widow of Charles Nickerson (seaman, USS Monticello), certificate #7017, p. 11; imaged from Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Widows' Certificates), 1861-1910, M1279 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives).
Citation template for this title
“Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Widows' Certificates), 1861-1910,” digital images, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : [date image viewed]); [pensioner’s name, widow of sailor’s name (company, regiment)] certificate [number]; imaged from Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Widows' Certificates), 1861-1910, M1279 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives).
The records shown here are scanned from the National Archives microfilm publication, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans, ('Navy Widows' Certificates'), 1861-1910, M1279. The original records are located in Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1773 – 2001 in the National Archives.
Explore "Navy Widows' Certificates"
Search or browse the Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Widows' Certificates), 1861-1910 here.
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).