Thursday, May 3, 2012

New National Archives Video Gives an Inside Look at the Civil War Widows’ Pension Digitization Project

From the National Archives Press Release: 
Washington, DC. . . A team of more than 60 volunteers led by professional staff at the National Archives has crossed the 100,000 mark in a project to digitize Civil War widows' pension files and is featured in a new National Archives video short. The National Archives holds 1.28 million case files of the dependents of Civil War Union soldiers who applied to the federal government for pensions.

Watch the new video short in the ongoing series "Inside the Vaults" which describes the project.  "The Civil War Widows' Pension Digitization Project at the National Archives":
 

The files are an astonishing compendium of Civil War history. Testimony in these files from fellow soldiers, widows, children, siblings and bereaved parents describe their deceased comrades, husbands, brothers and sons and often the circumstances in which they died. The effect of the war on family members left behind is also brought to light in great detail. 

Volunteers are painstakingly preparing the documents for digitization while creating a searchable index.  The index and images are available at www.Fold3.com, a research website in partnership with the National Archives.  A second partner, FamilySearch, provides volunteers who create the digital images.  

Archives specialist Jackie Budell, who is overseeing the project, says the volunteers range in age from 19 to 90 and come from a variety of backgrounds.  Collectively they devote more than 700 hours each month to the effort.  “The volunteers are helping to shed light on a large aspect of the Civil War that many historians and sociologists have had little readily-available primary source material to go on – the effect of the war on families back home who were left behind after the soldier’s death,” said Budell. 

While making these valuable files more widely available, the volunteers have discovered more treasures in the National Archives’ holdings – personal mementos that became “evidence” when sent to the Pension Bureau long ago and not seen since:  for example, the video includes images of some of these newly-discovered tintype images.

1 comment:

Jana Last said...

Thank you so much for sharing this video! Having Civil War ancestors myself makes this very special. Pension files really are genealogical treasures!