U.S. National Archives & Records Administration



Pension Application Files


Pension application files are a very rich source for family history and biographical research. The National Archives holds pension application files and records of pension payments for veterans, their widows, and other heirs based on service in the armed forces of the United States between 1775 and 1916 (excluding Confederate duty, 1861-1865; refer to Pension Information Available from Other Sources, below). There are three basic reasons why the Federal Government paid pension payments for military service:


1.       The former soldier became disabled and was unable to support himself, or he became an invalid because of wounds or illness which occurred while he was in the Service.

2.       The soldier was a volunteer whose State unit saw Federal Service.

3.       A widowís pension was awarded to a woman and children whose husband and father served in the war.


Pension Documents Packet Contents


The pension documents packet will contain, to the extent that these documents are present in the file, eight documents that contain genealogical information about the pension applicant including any of the following items that are in the file:

          declaration of pension

          declaration of widow's pension

          Adjutant General statements of service

          questionnaires completed by applicants (numbered forms)

          "Pension Dropped" cards

          marriage certificates

          death certificates

          discharge certificate


Types of Pension Applications


There are three types of pension applications: veteranís, widowís, or minor childís.


1.       A veteranís application typically contains the veteranís name, rank, military unit, period of service, residence at time of application, place and date of birth (or age), and property.

2.       A widowís application typically contains more detail, including all of the veteranís information plus her name, age (or date of birth), residence at time of application, maiden name, date of marriage, and veteranís date and place of death.

3.       A minor childís application may contain all of the veteranís and widowís information as well as the heirsí names, dates and places of their births, residence(s) at time of application, and date of their motherís death.


Pension Application Files at the National Archives


The National Archives in Washington, DC holds pension application files for the following wars and conflicts:


          Revolutionary War

          Old Wars

          War of 1812

          Indian Wars

          Mexican-American War

          Civil War

          Other conflicts before World War I


These pension application files may be obtained by ordering from this web site.


Pension Information Available from Other Sources


Refer to these sources for information on the following:


          Confederate Pension Files: Go to http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/military/civil-war/confederate/pension.html for additional information about Confederate pension records.


  • List of State Archives that have Confederate Pension Files


         Alabama Department of Archives & History, 624 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL36130-0100

         Arkansas History Commission & State Archives, One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR72201

         Florida State Archives, R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL32399-0250

         Georgia Department of Archives & History, 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, GA 30260

         Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Kentucky State Archives, 300 Coffee Tree Road, Frankfort, KY40601

         Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA70809-2137

         Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Charlotte Capers Building, 100 South State Street, Jackson, MS39201

         Missouri State Archives, State Information Center, 600 West Main Street, Jefferson City, MO65102

         North Carolina State Archives, 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh, NC27601

         Oklahoma Department of Libraries, State Archives, 200 N.E. 18th Street, Oklahoma City, OK73105

         South Carolina Department of Archives & History, South Carolina History Center, 8301 Parklane Road, Columbia, SC29223

         Tennessee State Library & Archives, 403 SeventhAvenue North, Nashville, TN37243

         Texas State Library & Archives Commission, 1201 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78711-2927

         The Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA23219-8000



  • Pension Applications from World War I and Subsequent Service:  Documentation of pension applications and pension payments for World War I and subsequent service are in the custody of the Veteranís Administration.


  • Modern Military Service Records: Documentation of military service in World War I and subsequent service are in the custody of the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132-5100.


  • To order Modern Military Service (Personnel) Records:



          Other requestors should use Standard Form 180 obtainable from http://www.archives.gov/facilities/mo/st_louis/military_personnel_records/standard_form_180.html.