28 June 2010

Tips and Tricks: Ordering Military Service and Pension Records from NARA

The WDYTYA Matthew Broderick episode motivated me to order my great great grandfather, Samuel S. Glover, Jr, civil war records from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  I had found his service record at ancestry.com in U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 database.

I completed further research and found Samuel S. Glover, Jr civil war pension index file at ancestry.com in the Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.

Confident I had the information I needed to order Samuel's records, I headed to the NARA website. I haven't spent much time with this website and had a little trouble navigating to where I wanted to go. After a few clicks, I stumbled onto what I wanted.

If you want to order reproductions, here are the steps to take:
  • From home page, on left side bar, click 'Order Online' under Research and Order
  • From bottom of page, click 'Order Reproductions'
  • Register (if you haven't already done so) or Sign In using your information
  • You should now be on 'Order Reproductions' page.
From here you can 1) Get assistance with 'Which Reproduction Should I Order?' or 2) Click on Military Services and Pension Records.  I chose Military Services and Pension Records. 

You have a choice of 5 records to order:

  • Compiled Military Service File (NATF 86)  Cost: $25

  • Federal Military Pension Application - Civil War & Later Complete File (NATF 85D)  Cost: $75

  • Federal Military Pension Application - Pre-Civil War Complete File (NATF 85A)  Cost:  $50

  • Federal Military Pension Applications - Pension Documents Packet (NATF 85B)  Cost $25

  • Military Bounty-Land Warrant Application File (NATF 85C)  Cost:  $25

  • All prices include shipping and handling.  There is a paragraph that explains what is included in each record.  I looked over the information and decided to order Federal Military Pension Application-Civil War and Later Complete File (NATF 85D).  This is the most I have ever paid for genealogical records, but I figured it was cheaper than a trip to Washington, D.C in order to look them up myself.

    You will need to select delivery format CD/DVD or Paper.  The CD/DVD choice comes in .pdf  format.  Click to add it to the cart.

    This will bring you to page to fill out with the information pertaining to your ancestor.  There are 5 required questions:
    1. Veteran's First and Last Name
    2. Branch of Service (Army, Navy, Marine)
    3. Kind of Service (Not Sure, Volunteer, Regular)
    4. War in Which He Served (Union or Confederate/Civil War or Span-American/Phillippine Insurr.)
    5. State from Which He Served
    The more information you can provide the better.  Other information includes birth, death, residence, service description, pension file number, and name of widow.  There is a spot to include any additional information you have.  You can save and finish later, if needed.  When finished it will take you to the order and payment information.

    Once you have submitted the information, you are able to check on the progress of your order.  My order took 40 days from the time I submitted it until I received it.  I chose the CD/DVD option.  I was extremely pleased with the records that I received.  I thought the files I received was 91 pages of genealogical magic!  I will be posting in the future about my ancestor's file.

    Have you ordered records from NARA?  Please, share your experience, did you think it was worthwhile?


    1. Michelle, Without a doubt, the best article regarding ordering these records. Precise and to the point, neatly laid out too. Many thanks.

    2. I am glad you liked it; I had to edit it quite a bit to keep it short.

      Also, I don't know why the links aren't a different color but if you hover on some of the websites you can click on it and go to the page. I will have to figure out what I did.

    3. I guess it was at least 10 years ago that I ordered my 3rd great grandfather's CW pension papers and the cost was nothing like it is today. I think I paid $17 (I could be wrong) and that seemed like a lot of money. Not nearly so many pages so I'm wondering now if I should be ordering more. This was actually the widow's application. Lots of great stuff but...hmmmm...now I'm wondering...what other goodies might there be?

    4. I was happy with what I received. I decided to go for the full application. He is the only civil war ancestor I have found so far. Thanks for following my blog.

    5. Great information, Brenda. I didn't realize there was more to these documents than what I could find on Ancestry. I am looking forward to reading about what all you discovered in the records.

    6. Thank you, Lori! I have lots to blog about on these records. Stay tuned:)

    7. I have three civil war ancestors of my own. Learning about their lives has been quite

      enlightening. One of my ancestors was wounded, captured and later died of his wounds. I

      learned this by ordering their service and pension records. However at $75 per pension

      record file ordering them from NARA can be very expensive. I was able to hire a profession

      genealogist from the NARA area. I paid less than 1/2 of what I would have if I order them

      directly from NARA. I also received the copies much faster. See my blog about the details


      Civil War Ancestors

      Regards, Jim

    8. Jim, thanks for sharing your idea of hiring a professional genealogist. I will keep that in mind next time I need to order from NARA.