Sunday, January 26, 2014

1790 Families and the War of 1812 Pension Files

Researching 1790 families can be a daunting task. Our fledgling government was only beginning to create the types of records that contain the genealogical treasures we seek. Early census records identify the heads of our ancestral households (and their oft-neglected friends and neighbors), but offer little else to help us flesh out other family members. 

Application of claimant, 18 April 1878, Sarah Bagley, 
widow’s pension application no. W.O. 16641; service 
of William Bagley (Pvt., Capt. P. Webster’s Co., N.H. 
Mil., War of 1812), pension no. W.C. 8312; War of 
1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application 
Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Records Group 15; 
National Archives, Washington, D.C.; digital image, 
Fold3 ( : accessed 26 January 2014), image 
no. 21 of 23. 
Until now, Revolutionary War Pension applications have been one of the most valuable online sources for unlocking the secrets of our 1790 families. Now, we are slowly gaining online access to pension applications for the War of 1812. In observance of the bicentennial of “America’s Second Revolution,” Preserve the Pensions partnered with the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Archives,, and to digitize the records, which include bounty land application files.

The records are being made available as they are completed, and are accessible at for free! They are being processed in alphabetical order by surname, and as of this date, applications through the letter "F" have been posted. Even if your ancestor’s record has not yet been posted, he or a family member may have testified in someone else’s application, so you can begin your search today!

The War of 1812 pension applications are one of the most-requested collections at the National Archives, and the years of wear and tear have left them in a very fragile state. So digitization is critical if we are to preserve and retain access to this valuable genealogical resource. The project is funded by private donations, and you can become a part of it by visiting the website at and making a contribution. For every dollar contributed, four more pages are digitized and made accessible. matches every dollar you contribute, so your $20 donation actually becomes $40 . . . another 160 pages of pension records!

So go to and see if your ancestors are among these records. Good luck and enjoy the search!

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