Thursday, June 10, 2010

Checking out's Civil War Collection

After reading the announcement about their Civil War Collection (FREE for all through the month of June), I wanted to explore the collection to see what they have about my one Civil War ancestral veteran - Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) of Massachusetts.

Here is the leading page of the Civil War Collection:

There are links for Records, Photos, Maps and Lincoln across the top of the screen. I clicked on Records, and saw:

This screen has a list of record types on the left, and when you click on one of them, the graphic in the main panel changes. Each panel has a search box for a name. In the screen above for Soldier Service Records, I added "isaac seaver" to the Search box. I pressed "Search" and got:

No results? That's strange, I know that he served - I have his civil War Pension File. Was it misspelled? I went back and input "Seaver" in the search field, and found that there were 164 matches:

But no Isaac. so I clicked inside the "Title or Collection" field and the dropdown menu showed that there are records for only nine states - seven Confederate and two Union (Kentucky and Missouri). Not Massachusetts. That's too bad - I expected that this database would be complete, and it isn't. Not nearly complete. It needs records from another 30 states or so! You would think that Footnote would have noted this somewhere before I was unpleasantly surprised.

Okay, what about the Civil War Pension Index? Back on the Records screen, I chose "Civil War Pension Index" from the list on the left, and entered "isaac seaver" in the search field, as shown below:

After clicking "Search," I had one match:

Yep, that's my Isaac Seaver; he served in Company H, Regiment 4 of the Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. I clicked on the "View Image" link and saw the image of Isaac Seaver's pension file card:

This image provides the date of filing, the application number and the certificate number of his Invalid pension file, and the application and certificate number of his widow's pension file.

The source information for this database and the specific image are in the left-hand panel.

I created a Footnote Page for Isaac Seaver a year ago, so I wanted to add this image to Isaac's Page. I clicked on the "Connect" link to try to add the image to the Footnote Page. I saved the image to My Gallery, and then opened up "Pages" (the Footnote Pages I've created), and it was added to the Footnote Page for Isaac Seaver (1823-1901), a Civil War soldier, as shown below:

I went back to the Civil War Records page, and checked to see if the Widow's Pension File included Isaac Seaver's widow's application, and it did not. Oh well, hope springs eternal in the online genealogist's breast!
As a remionder, the Civil War Pension Files are NOT available online yet. is digitizing the Widow's applications gradually, but is only about 1% complete on this task. Digitizing of the Invalid applications have not been started. You can order the complete application files from the National Archives for a fee. The National Archives Civil War Records web page says:
"Paper copies of Civil War pension records can be requested online or requested by mail using an NATF Form 85 for each soldier (Volunteer Army or Regular Army, Union Navy or Marine Corps). You can obtain the NATF Form 85 by providing your name and mailing address to Be sure to specify the correct form number and the number of forms you need."


Jennifer said...

Yes, I got all excited about the free access until I realized that they didn't have records for any of the places that I needed. I love the idea of Footnote, but honestly I find the site so confusing sometimes, that I give up mid-search, or get hopelessly bogged down somewhere I didn't mean to...

KevinW said...

Same results for me, but I have THREE Civil War ancestors. All I got was one pension index card. No service records; no pension files, nothing.

I am not sure of heavily promoting a mostly incomplete collection. That is not very smart advertising of what you offer.

Anonymous said...

I also was so excited I was going to find something new on Footnote>Civil War. My ancestor PA, WI, NE nothing of course nothing. I know they were in the civil war, grave marker and newspaper articles. In the old, old rootsweb I got more information in the olden days but after Ancestory purged the records to their liking many records are just gone.