I was going to Fairfax, VA, for my 40th high school reunion.  My husband and I would be in the area for a few days.  So, the thought came to me – go to NARA while there.  We would have entire day at NARA!

I posted a request for any “visiting hints” to everyone on the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) Members list.  And, my fellow professional genealogists came through!  So many of them took the time to give me hints on my visit – what the procedure was in obtaining records, how to get a researcher card, what items I could take in with me, the cost of using the lockers, etc.  All of their hints helped to take the “overwhelming feeling” away.

The first thing I did was decide what records I was interested in obtaining.  In order to decide this, I made a list of all of my and my husband’s relatives that were in either the Civil War or the Spanish American War.  And, there were quite a few!  Then, I did research using both fold3 and ancestry.

It is important to make a copy of the actual pension record for the veteran – this was the copy that was on ancestry.com.  It is important to have the company and regiment, and it is important to know that the index for pensions is on T288 and are in record group 15.  But, it is even more important to have the application and certificate numbers as well.

Here is the pension record for Orlow Babcock:

The form that had to be filled out at NARA was called” Request for Military Records.”  I want to explain that this was the form when I was there.  By the time someone else goes, it could be that the form is different.  This is what the form requires:                                                                                                                Date – current date

Name of Requestor – your name                                                      Agency or Address – researcher’s card number

RG NO. – 15

Record Identification – Pension

Name of Soldier – Orlow Babcock (put a circle around the last name)     Name of Dependent – Phenie C. Babcock

Unit (Co, Bn, Regt) – Co F 19 Regt NY Cav                        War – Civil War                    State Served From – NY

Pension File Numbers

Application                                            Certificate

  1. Invalid                                    286194                                                  211706
  2. Widow                                   353387                                                  236103
  3. Minor
  4. Father
  5. Other Number

At the bottom of the form is some signature blocks – these will be used when they actually hand you the folder.

More in my next blog!