According to the National Archives, pension files for the War of 1812 rate among their most-requested materials. But the files haven’t been easy to use because they’re only at the National Archives–they haven’t been available in published, microfilmed or digitized form. You’ve either had to research the pension files onsite in Washington, D.C. or order copies from the Archives. Not exactly easy access.
This is about to change. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), The National Archives, Ancestry.com and Fold3.com are partners in a huge effort: to preserve and digitize 7.2 million pages of War of 1812 Pension Records and make them available for free online.
This mammoth undertaking commemorates the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which has been called “America’s Second Revolution.” Many U.S. citizens joined the fight against the British Empire to permanently resolve issues the Revolutionary War was fought over. It’s a near-legendary era in U.S. history when “The Star Spangled Banner” was penned (during the defense of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry) and the White House was burned (during the only foreign occupation of Washington, D.C.).
The pension files are already being digitized, and completed images and their associated indexes are being posted incrementally. You can view them for free at Fold3.com. Follow the progress of this enormous undertaking at FGS’ Preserve the Pensions blog, where you’ll see updates and get inspired by research success stories. Commemorate the War of 1812’s anniversary yourself by looking here for any ancestors who may have served!