The Southern Claims Commission was established in 1871 under the Act of March 3, 1871 to settle the claims of Southerners who remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War, and who provided stores and supplies to the Union military.
The Commission received 22,298 claims for over $60 million dollars in damages towards which about $4.6 million was paid. These records, consisting of detailed questionnaires and affidavits from neighbors and friends, provide valuable genealogical information and a wealth of detail about the lives of southerners in the 1860's and 1870's.
The Center for Legislative Archives holds the barred or disallowed case files of the Southern Claims Commission -- that is, ones in which the Government made no payment -- among the records of the U.S. House of Representatives. Claims were barred if they were submitted after the Commission’s deadline. Disallowed claims were those claims the Commission denied.
The disallowed case files are arranged by report number and thereunder by the docket number within the report (called the “office”). Barred case files are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the claimant.
Researchers interested in finding an individual claim should consult the Consolidated Index of Claims Reported by the Commissioners of Claims to the House of Representatives from 1871-1880, which is arranged alphabetically by the surname of those persons who filed claims before the Commission. The Consolidated Index gives the office and report numbers, the amount claimed, amount received, a brief description of the property involved, and whether the case was barred.
The Southern Claims Commission involved a number of different governmental offices in the settlement process, so the records of the Commission are divided among several record groups. Only the barred and disallowed case files are in Record Group 233 -- Records of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The case files for the allowed claims are in Record Group 217 -- Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury. The administrative records and correspondence files of the Commission are in Record Group 56 -- General Records of the Department of the Treasury.
Additionally, Congress passed the Bowman Act of 1883 and the Tucker Act of 1887, which provided for further adjudication of some disallowed cases by the Court of Claims. As a result, some of the disallowed case files can be found in Record Group 123 -- Records of the United States Court of Claims.
For assistance with barred and disallowed case files, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For assistance with the allowed case files or records from the Court of Claims you can email email@example.com. And lastly, for assistance with general administration records of the Southern Claims Commission you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The allowed, barred and disallowed claims are also available through Ancestry.