War of 1812 Pension Files record example

War of 1812 Pension Files

Records: 1,305,010 · Complete: 82%


The documents in this collection include full pension application files for soldiers and sailors who served in the War of 1812, as well as for their widows and children, or other heirs. The first applications were filed by servicemen who were disabled as a result of their service, or by widows who lost a husband in the war.

The descriptive pamphlet for the Index to War of 1812 Pension Application Files, M313, published by NARA, provides a great deal of background and explanatory information about the pension files and the acts that provided for them.

War of 1812 Pensions Digitization Project

iArchives to Collaborate with FGS to Digitize War of 1812 Pension Applications

The following announcement was written by iArchives, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com.

Lindon, UT – iArchives today announced a collaboration with the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) to digitize 180,000 pension applications, or an estimated 7.2 million pages of War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files. The collection will be available on iArchives’ military records website, Fold3.com, home of more than 94 million historical records.

The multi-year project will consist of scanning the pension files at the National Archives in Washington D.C. and creating a searchable index to the digital images. FGS has targeted the War of 1812 Pension Applications as a high priority project based on the value of the content for genealogists as well as the importance of preserving the fragile records.

“Our goal with any collaboration is to honor our nation’s heritage by preserving the records of our past,” said Patricia Oxley, President of FGS. “In the specific case of the War of 1812 pension records, there is an added priority due to their frail state where not acting may mean sacrificing these for future generations.”

With the burden of proof on the applicant to qualify for a pension, those applying proved participation in the war by including dozens of vividly descriptive pages. Details recorded include military battle stories, service dates, mentions of fellow soldiers, family relations, marriages, widows’ maiden names and many other clues significant to researchers. The breadth of information allows the pension files to tell the richest story of that time period.

“The most popular database on Fold3 today is the Revolutionary War Pensions which is very similar content,” said Brian Hansen, General Manager at Fold3. “Our users have been asking for the War of 1812 pension records for some time, and I expect this collection to be very popular based on the rich war time detail it contains. We are pleased to make these records available for free on Fold3 as a result of FGS fundraising efforts to subsidize the production cost.”

FGS is proud to be leading the national fundraising to support this project and is actively seeking donations from genealogical and historical societies, patriotic and military heritage societies, as well as interested corporations and individuals. iArchives is providing a dollar-for-dollar match of each donation through a provision of services. To learn more and contribute to the Preserve the Pensions project, visit www.preservethepensions.org.

About iArchives

iArchives is a leading digitization service provider and subsidiary of Ancestry.com (NASDAQ: ACOM). The company operates Fold3, the leading U.S. military record resource on the web with more than 94 million records online. The site provides searchable original documents, providing subscribers with a view of the events, places and people in the conflicts that shaped the American nation and the world. For more information, visit www.fold3.com.

About FGS

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), founded in 1976, links the genealogical community by serving the needs of its member societies, providing products and services needed by member societies, and marshaling the resources of its member organizations. FGS represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies and engages in projects that help genealogical societies strengthen and grow as well as call attention to records preservation and access issues. FGS can be found on the web at www.FGS.org.

Pension acts

The pension provisions already in existence for veterans of the regular and volunteer forces were applied to veterans of the War of 1812 and to their surviving dependents by acts of January 29, 1813 (2 Stat. 794), and April 16, 1816 (3 Stat. 285). Other similar or supplementary acts providing benefits on account of death or disability were passed by Congress between 1813 and 1871.

Information relating to the War of 1812 pension acts, and the attached table, are excerpted from: Glasson, William Henry, and David Kinley. 1918. Federal military pensions in the United States. New York [etc.]: Oxford University Press, American Branch.

A related blog post by Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist, titled Chasing That Pension File provides a great perspective and reminds us all to "check the laws."