Monday, September 20, 2010

Revolutionary Was Pension Applications on

A significant addition to the databases was rolled out this summer. Images of the Revolutionary War pension application files are now available. Previously there were three primary places to go to see those images:, a reduced set on, and the National Archives or one of its regional centers.

In addition to pension files, Ancestry also now has various lists and rosters from the revolutionary period. A quick comparison of the Ancestry and Footnote sites shows that the documents files available are essentially the same, but the ones on Footnote are easier to use. For examples, in a pension file on footnote, you have a clear view of where an individual's file starts and stops. On Ancestry, you have to look at every page until your ancestor is simply not mentioned any more or you run into a header card for the next file. This can be cumbersome when files run to 50 pages or more. Also, in Footnote you can go directly to a desired muster roll for your ancestor, while in Ancestry you have to start at the beginning of a roll of digitized microfilm and plow through it until you stumble across your ancestor.

But regardless of convenience or lack of it, if you have a Revolutionary war ancestor this is a "must" piece of research for you. If your ancestor (or his widow) applied for a pension and it has survived various natural, man-made, and administrative catastrophes; it will contain a wealth of genealogical information that often includes wife's maiden name, names and birth dates of children, comments on physical and economic well-being, an outline of the military service performed, proof of marriage, etc. Of all military records, pension application files are potentially the most valuable genealogically.

The PGS offers a class on military records and goes into depth about how to find and use pension records. Check the calendar page on the PGS website ( to see when it is scheduled.

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