United States Navy Widows' Certificates - FamilySearch Historical Records
|Access the Records|
United States Navy Widows' Certificates, 1861-1910
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Flag of the United States of America|
|Civil War flag 1861 (33 stars)|
|National Archives and Records Administration Logo|
|Record Type||Case Files of Approved Pension Applications|
|Record Group||RG 15: Records of the Department of Veteran Affairs|
|Microfilm Publication||M1279. Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans, ('Navy Widow Certificates'),861-1910.|
|National Archives Identifier||561929|
|National Archives and Records Administration|
- 1 What is in This Collection?
- 2 What Can These Records Tell Me?
- 3 Collection Content
- 4 How Do I Search This Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Citing This Collection
What is in This Collection?
This collection is an index to approximately 20,000 pension application files of widows and other dependents of U.S. Navy veterans who served between 1861 and 1910. The applications are commonly referred to as "Navy Widows' Certificates.” Prior to approval, applications were termed "originals." When claims were approved, a new file number was issued, and the records were referred to as "certificates." This collection corresponds to “NARA publication M1279: Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans, ('Navy Widows' Certificates'), 1861-1910.” The index is arranged alphabetically and numerically.
This is an index to the Widows’ Certificates Collection, which was compiled from documents submitted by applicants (which include proof of their relationships to the veterans) and also from records created by the government (such as requests for documentation, certificates, or more information). The information in this index is quite reliable. However, keep in mind that even though this index is very accurate it still may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings or misinterpretations.
Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images.
For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.
What Can These Records Tell Me?
The following information may be found in these records:
Navy Widows' Certificates
- Navy veteran’s full name
- Rank and rate of pay
- Pay commenced on what date
- Name of wife and children
- Petitioner's full name
- Petitioner's relationship to veteran
- Application number
- Certificate number
Sample of indexed information:
How Do I Search This Collection?
Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:
- The name of your ancestor
- The name of your ancestor's spouse
- The names of your ancestor's children
Search the IndexSearch by name on the Collection Details Page.
- Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
- Click Search to show possible matches
How Do I Analyze the Results?
Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.
What Do I Do Next?
I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?
- Use death dates to look for death certificates, mortuary records, or burial records
- Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date
- Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been seeking the pension
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct
Keep in mind that this is only an index to applications that were approved by the government. There are other case files at the National Archives and Records Administration (publication M1274 and M1391) that contain the applications that were rejected for various reasons.
I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor
The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the United States.
- US Military Basic Search Strategies
- Beginning Research in United States Military Records
- Beginning United States Civil War Research
- Locating a Union Civil War Soldier (1861-1865)
- Locating a Confederate Civil War Soldier (1861–1865)
- United States Guided Research
- United States Record Finder
- Research Tips and Strategies
Related Family History Library Holdings
- Case files of disapproved pension applications of widows and other dependents of Civil War and later Navy veterans (Navy Widows Originals), 1861-1910
Related FamilySearch Historical Record Collections
Related Digital Books
- Edward W. Callahan, ed., List of officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900 : comprising a complete register of all present and former commissioned, warranted, and appointed officers of the United States Navy and of the Marine Corps, regular and volunteer : compiled from the official records of the Navy Department.New York : L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1901. 1 v.
Citing This Collection
Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.