A fantastic link was shared yesterday by instructor Claire Bettag in her “NARA at Your Fingertips” talk to our group at the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), currently underway at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
The link she shared was to National Archives records digitized and made available in whole or in part on the websites of its digitization partners, Ancestry.com and Fold3.com. If researching from home, you will likely need a subscription to pull up the record, but the index should be available at no charge.
This long list of digitized publications can easily be sorted by clicking on any of the column headings. Or, search the page for a specific keyword using CTRL+ F on your keyboard. Once you’ve found a publication of interest, click on the title to be taken to the search page at the partner website. In this example, I’ve searched for M313, the War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, and clicked that link to be taken to the search page on Ancestry.com.
It’s no secret. I love the subscription site Fold3.com, formerly Footnote.com, and have gratefully paid to be a subscriber to it since it launched in 2007. When Ancestry.com acquired the parent company of Fold3.com nearly two years ago, those of us who believe competition is good for the industry collectively held our breath to see what changes may come down the pipeline. Today, I can report one very positive outcome of that merger: the new “Save to Ancestry” button that now appears on Fold3.com.
I missed whatever announcement that may have been made about this new feature. However, when I pulled up a record in the viewer yesterday, the new green button containing the Ancestry.com logo was at the top right of the viewer.
Clicking this button allows a researcher to save the record image from Fold3.com to a tree on Ancestry. Simply select your pre-existing tree on Ancestry.com, and then select the person within the tree that you want to save the image to.
Once you see the message that you have successfully saved the image to the person’s “profile” on the Ancestry tree, you may then click in to view the image of the record.
The “Index to Selected Final Payment Vouchers, 1818-1864” (RG 217) is discussed in a 2008 article in Prologue by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens called “Follow the Money: Tracking Revolutionary War Army Pension Payments“. John King (1765-1855) is one of my Revolutionary War ancestors, and it is his index card that you see in the above screenshots.
If you, like me, are interested in history and technology, you’ll find this short video on digitizing the Civil War Widow’s Pensions fascinating.
Until now, Civil War pension files existed only in textual format at the National Archives. When you visit the Archives in Washington, D.C., you can request a file be pulled, and then you may view that file in person in the reading room on the 2nd floor. And while nothing quite compares to handling the documents yourself, touching the same page as your family member once touched, having this series of records available online will be a tremendous resource for genealogists and historians alike.
From the video, we learn that there are 1.28 million approved case files of widows and dependents that will ultimately be digitized and made available online. 25,000 – 30,000 case files are processed by volunteers each year, working since about 2007. The first digital images became available online on what is now Fold3.com in the fall of 2008. As of today’s date, 4% of the collection has been digitized and posted, representing roughly 75,000 pension files. In April 2012, Fold3 indicated on their site that the highest WC (Widow’s Certificate) number posted is WC95971.
Civil War Widows' Pensions on Fold3.com as of 02 Jun 2012
Note the emphasis on the word approved in the above description. Rejected application files will apparently not be filmed or otherwise placed online. For those files, you will still need to order the file online from the National Archives, visit in person, or hire a researcher to copy the file for you.
Who will you look for on Fold3?