VA Pension Cards 1907-1933 Going Online

For the last two months I have been actively monitoring items added to the Texts collection at the Internet Archive (IA).  By subscribing to several different RSS feeds, I’m able to check them every few days and see what is being uploaded.  For example, I learned that UNC Chapel Hill Library has been adding old issues of yearbooks and blogged about this incredible resource even well before their official announcement.  Even then, their announcement was only for the yearbooks from UNC-Chapel Hill, when they’ve added yearbooks for many other schools besides just UNC-CH.

So many goodies are being posted at the Internet Archive, but here is another one definitely worth mentioning.  The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center has started uploading NARA microfilm records of the Veterans Administration Pension Cards: 1907-1933.  Military records are still sources that I’m quite unfamiliar, but a just looking through the records themselves + Google searching quickly made me realize how valuable these can be for genealogical research.

The pension records are arranged alphabetically by surname; the entire collection has 2, 539 reels and includes about 2 million cards (Microfilm collection M850 at NARA).  Two types of cards are included – those for soldiers themselves and then the Army/Navy Widow Cards.

What kind of information can you find on them?  These listed below, plus more.

  • Veteran’s name
  • Unit of service
  • Rate and dates of payment
  • Date of death
  • Home town

And, on the widow cards you’ll find

  • Wife’s name
  • Veteran’s name
  • Rate & record of payments
  • Record of any payments made to minors

As I write this a little more than 30 reels from the “A” alphabet have been deposited to the IA.   To help keep track of them I have created a spreadsheet that lists each roll and I will continue to add to it as they add more.  I can only hope that ACPL Genealogy Center will start a list/directory on their website though and/or blogs about it soon – I may get tired before they get all 2,539 reels done!  🙂  UPDATE: Curt Witcher, Manager of the Genealogy Center, just confirmed for me via email that they do plan on putting all the reels up.

Some links for ya

If you’d like a version of the surname listing for all reels in a more accessible format, I spliced those pages off and uploaded them to Scribd. You can get it below.   I’m looking forward to seeing more of these reels come online.


Comments (10)

  1. Miriam Robbins Midkiff

    A lot of people don’t realize that these pension cards are for Civil War vets who were still alive and receiving pensions from 1907 to 1933. I believe these also cover Spanish American and World War I vets, as well as those who served during peacetime.

    My 3rd-great-grandfather’s Civil War veteran pension file was held by the VA, rather than the National Archives, because he was one of those vets that lived to a ripe old age, and his widow lived after him.

  2. taneya (Post author)

    Thanks Miriam for the additional information. I have a lot to learn myself about military records so every piece of detail helps.

  3. Jeff Z

    This is exciting for me. My great great grandfather was a Spanish American War vet who applied for pension in 1907. I am too cheap to fork over the $75 to get the complete pension file from the archives so this might hold me over for a little while. Thanks for the info. 🙂

  4. taneya (Post author)

    Right now Jeff they only have the A’s, but I did just get an email confirmation that all the reels will be going online. Glad you find the information helpful.

  5. Jeff Z

    I’ll be waiting for roll 1206. 🙂

  6. Elizabeth Thomas

    This looks like it will be a great help to everyone. Unfortunately my names are also on the bottom half of the list. But one thing you learn in doing genealogy is patience. This is still better than trying to drive for hours.

  7. Sheri Fenley

    You always come up with THE best nuggets! Thanks Taneya!

  8. Jeff Z

    Well, unfortunately the ancestor I was looking for didn’t show up in the pension cards. Oh well! That’s just how it goes sometimes (usually). 🙂

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