Isn't it all online?  Part 5-- War of 1812 pension files

Isn't it all online? Part 5-- War of 1812 pension files

Isn’t it all online? Part 5-- War of 1812 pensions

A common misconception out there is that most of the military records from the National Archives are online already. This is far from being accurate though. I’m doing a series of posts, explaining what records are online and what ones are only available at the National Archives for Civil War and War of 1812 soldiers. You may be surprised!

Military pension files can be some of the best genealogical sources you can access for your ancestors. Often times there are details about the soldier, his service, his friends and neighbors, and his family. For this reason, pension files are the go-to resource when it comes to researching a War of 1812 soldier. But are they online? 

I’m happy to say that this is one of the few record groups out there that are, in fact, online. Most of them, at least. It’s still a work in progress, but many of these pensions are digitized on When Covid hit, they were in the middle of digitizing the S names. Once things get back to normal, that project should resume.

If your ancestor falls alphabetically T-Z, those pension files are only going to be available at the National Archives. So you’ll have to wait until they finish the project in order to view those. (If you don’t want to wait that long, let me know and I can get the file for you.)

The other piece of good news is that even if you don’t have a paid subscription to Fold3, you can access all of the War of 1812 pensions. They made an agreement that those files would be available free of charge to anyone, regardless if they have a membership there or not. You can access those at

Not all War of 1812 soldier got pensions though. Many people are surprised to find out that most of the War of 1812 pensions weren’t issued until 1871, which was 56 years after the war ended. Many soldiers and/or their widows didn’t live long enough to be eligible for a War of 1812 pension.

(By the way, if you’ve never found a pension for your military ancestor in the indexes on Ancestry or Fold3, check out the Old War pension index Those pension files aren’t online, but I can help you get those files from the National Archives too.)

Looking for information about your military ancestors? Let us help! We make regular trips to the National Archives (once they reopen from Covid, that is...) and have helped hundreds of people get their ancestor’s military records in their hands.

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