I have the civil war pension index card and file number but I got a Negative Search when I applied for the file - any suggestions?

I ordered a Civil War pension file online but was returned with a negative search.

Any suggestions?


    Thank you for posting your question to the History Hub!

    Depending on what the actual file number looks like, or the date when the application was filed, it may be that the pension file is not in the physical custody of the National Archives. This is generally what a negative search result means. It is important to know that the Civil War pension files currently in the holdings of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, only include those case files that were closed or inactive as of 1928-29. These are the files that were initially transferred from the Veterans Administration (VA) to the National Archives in 1938. If a veteran or widow was still living in 1930 then their claims were still active and the VA retained their files. As these claimants died off over the ensuing years, there were no mechanisms in place to allow their pension files to be transferred to the National Archives on any routine basis. Consequently, there are many Civil War pension files that are still in the custody of the VA to the present day. We currently receive batches of Civil War pensions from the VA but only after researchers have contacted the VA first to enquire about the files. At that time they are then reviewed, declared closed, and sent to NARA (but these transfers are now sent to the National Archives at St. Louis, rather than being integrated with the existing files in Washington, DC, due to lack of storage space).

    We would recommend you contact the Archives 1 Reference Branch (RR1R) directly at archives1reference@nara.gov and provide the pension file number that you have, so we can determine whether it might be one that missed the 1930 cutoff date. If that is the case, we usually instruct researchers to contact the National Archives at St. Louis directly to see if the file has since made its way into their custody; if it has not, then it will still be in the physical custody of the VA. At that point, St. Louis should provide instructions on how to contact the VA directly regarding the file.

    We hope this information assists you with your research!


    Archives 1 Reference Branch

  • thank you so much - this is incredibly helpful.  I am starting the thread here with the email you suggested and here is the pension index card and it looks like it is exactly as you say because the claims went into the 1930s. 

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