By Frankie Meyer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Did any of your ancestors serve during the War of 1812? If so, you will soon be able to check their pension records online at no cost. Because the pension files of that war are so fragile and are in such demand, the National Archives and Records Administration has formed a partnership to have them digitized.
The administration is working in partnership with the Federation of Genealogy Societies and Ancestry.com. A similar partnership was formed last year to have an index completed for the 1940 census. That effort was completed in only a few months and has been placed online for free use by the public.
The War of 1812 records will be helpful, too. The files include more than 7.2 million pages of records that resulted from a soldier's service during the war from 1812 to 1815. Those records pertain to benefits that were granted to the veteran, his widow and his heirs.
From the files, one can learn about the battles in which he fought, the places where he and his troop traveled, the name of his officers, the time period in which he served and the type of duties he was assigned. The files also provide the date of birth, the date of death and the places where he lived after the war.
Details about his widow include her maiden name, her date of birth, the date of their marriage, the places where she lived after the war and the date of her death. One can also learn about their children. Although not all files include all of these types of data, many do.
As the War of 1812 files are digitized, they are posted at www. preservethe pensions.org. So far, 414,000 records have been digitized.
When the screen opens, notice the section titled "Digitized Images Available Immediately." Click on the word "now" in that section.
At the next screen, enter a name, date or topic. I suggest entering only the surname. When the next screen opens, click on one of the records on the right side of the screen.
Click on the white prompters on the right and left of each record to move back and forth between the records. When the pointer is placed on a record, that record can be moved around.
As you will soon learn, this is a project that will provide many details for your family history. You will want to periodically check the site as new files are added.
For information about other War of 1812 records at NARA, go to the website at www.archives.gov and enter "War of 1812" in the search box.
Suggestions or queries? Write to Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or email frankie firstname.lastname@example.org.