1 Reply Latest reply on Dec 15, 2021 12:02 PM by Jason Atkinson

    Seeking any USCT invalid soldier and widow pension files for Kentucky

    Dan Gediman Newbie

      Folks, Our non-profit organization, Reckoning, Inc., has launched an initiative called The Kentucky African American Civil War Soldiers Project. Our eventual goal is to research the lives of all 23,700 USCT soldiers who enlisted from Kentucky, but to start with we are beginning with a more manageable group of roughly 9,000 formerly enslaved soldiers who show up in a set of ledgers of Black soldiers with the names of their enslavers listed (https://reckoningradio.org/ky-usct-project/). As part of this project, we had intended to scan as many pension files as possible for these soldiers (or their widows if they died during the war), but due to COVID and the closing of NARA, that part of the project is on hold. We know of Fold3's ongoing project to scan widows pensions and have found roughly 500 from Kentucky, which we are working on. However, I have wondered if anyone has tried to collate in one place those pension files which individuals (or organizations) have digitized over the years, which would be tremendously useful to our particular project, and certainly a boon to many other people researching USCT soldiers or African American history in general. In Googling this issue, I found a post on this forum from three years ago, in which someone says that NARA itself has posted many of these, and they provided a link to wherever that is in the middle NARA catalog. However the link is broken. So my question is two-fold: can someone tell me where I can find any already scanned pension files on the NARA website, and are there any other archives that have attempted to collect all those pension files which have been previously digitized? Many Thanks.

        • Re: Seeking any USCT invalid soldier and widow pension files for Kentucky
          Jason Atkinson Guide

          Dear Mr. Gediman,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 3,082 digitized pension case files for

          for U.S. Colored Troops soldiers and widows in various record series in the Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs (Record Group 15). Unfortunately there is no reliable way to narrow down the search to veterans from Kentucky using the search features of the Catalog, given the inaccuracy of the machine reading of text that is in many cases handwritten. For more information about non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at archives1reference@nara.gov.


          Due to the continued impact of COVID-19, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1.  We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience as we balance mission-critical work and the safety of our staff during the pandemic. Please check NARA’s web page about COVID-19 updates for the latest information.


          We are unaware of any external organization that has collected all of the USCT pension files or organized them by state.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!