Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Subscribe to Email Updates

Tag: civil war widows

Thursday Photo Caption Contest: March 22

One man in last week’s picture wasn’t happy, but all your comments made us smile!

Our guest judge is Jackie Budell, an archives specialist who supervises groups of devoted volunteers who are currently processing the Civil War Widows files, an enormous project with thousands of documents that need to be carefully handled–you never know what may be inside the envelopes! The volunteers have found all kinds of documents and objects, including a mole and a tintype.

Congratulations to Roxanne! Jackie approached her judging duties with the care she uses to open an envelope sealed for decades, and chose your caption as the winner. Check your email for a code for 15% off in the eStore.

So what’s really happening here? These are National Archives employees from around 1960, and the original captions reads “War Records Division Gondos, Irvine, Huber, Krauskopf.” It looks like we’ll never know what happened to make Mr. Irvine so very sad….

Today’s photograph features two ladies in honor of Women’s History Month! Put your wittiest caption in the comments below!

Your caption here! 

[ Read all ]

A Civil War Widow’s Story

Intriguing discoveries are made all the time in the National Archives. This tintype of a woman and child doesn’t look like the typical federal record, let alone one associated with military records. But it was found in one of the 1.28 million Civil War Widows Certificate Approved Pension Case Files. Since 2007, a team of volunteers has been working on a project to digitize these records and make them available online, and from time to time, unexpected treasures turn up.

The file of one widow, Adelia M. Fish, holds quite a story. Her first husband, Joseph Springer served as a private in Company A, Seventh Michigan Cavalry, and died at Andersonville Prison in October 1864. She had four children under the age of 16 when she applied for her pension in June 1865.

In July 1872 Adelia married Jason B. Webb, and she was dropped from the pension rolls. Webb left their home in Battle Creek, MI, in the fall of 1872, and Adelia never saw him or heard from him again. Presuming him dead, she married a third time to Washington A. Fish in 1883. Adelia had no children by either Webb or Fish.

After Fish died on August 11, 1915, Adelia, now 77, applied for restoration to the pension rolls based on her first husband Springer’s service.

Because Webb had disappeared and was … [ Read all ]

Mole in place at the Archives

Researching in original records often provides the researcher with surprises. Usually the surprise takes the form of an unknown letter, a reference to your topic in an unexpected place, or a lead that directs you to a new set of records to mine. Once in a great while, the surprise is something no one could have imagined.

In late 2005, an Archives staff member was pulling a file from the Civil War Widows Certificate Approved Pension Case Files for a researcher. The file seemed unusually bulky, so he opened it. Inside the folder, tucked between sheets of a letter was one of the most unusual items found in the records of the National Archives: the preserved skin of a mole.

Now, moles make appearances in archival records all the time—but they’re usually undercover spies mentioned in intelligence or diplomatic reports. This 19th-century insectivore came from the literal underground, and one ill-fated day he found himself in the tent of a Union soldier.

The soldier, James J. Van Liew, didn’t care to share his tent with this uninvited guest and captured it. As (a joke? a love token?), Van Liew sent the skin to his wife, Charity. She kept it for years but lost his original letter.

In July 1900, Charity applied to the government for a widow’s pension. In these applications, the widow had to … [ Read all ]