The Union Army data provides information on the immigration of the recruit and his household members. This includes information on the recruit's entry date and time in the U.S., and the naturalization status of both the recruit and household members.
2. Variable Groups
Collection: Military, Pension and Medical Records:
Immigration: Recruit's immigration entry date, Recruit's immigration number of years in the U.S., Father foreign born, Mother foreign born
Collection: U.S. Federal Census
Naturalization Status: Recruit and household members' year of immigration to the U.S., Recruit and household members' number of years in the U.S., Recruit and household members' naturalization status, Recruit and Household member year of naturalization, Nativity code, Country code, and State code specific to census
Place and date variables are qualified by a set of codes that can be found in the Quality Codes User Guide.
3. Historical Background
3.1 Original Sources
The two primary sources of immigration data are the Pension record and the U.S. Federal Census records of 1870, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940.
Most of the information on immigration from the pension record is found on death certificates. Some affidavits and depositions also contain this information.
Information and naturalization information is found on the census for the following years:
|Years in US||X|
|Nativity Code/Country Code||X|
Civil War pensions were available for veterans with disabilities as well as for deceased veterans' widows, minor children, dependent major children, and parents. Under the Act of July 14, 1862, the first pension legislation specific to the Civil War, the veterans were eligible only for disabilities (wounds or chronic illnesses) received during wartime. The Act of June 27, 1890 changed that requirement and expanded eligibility to include disabilities not directly related to wartime experience. As a result, the number of men on the pension rolls swelled. Laws passed after 1907 changed the pension from disability-based to age-based.
When a veteran wanted to receive a pension, he would, under his attorney's supervision, submit an application/declaration. This form was sent to the Pension Bureau in Washington D.C., which reviewed the application and collected further testimony in support of the veteran's application. The decision is recorded on a claim form, which is input alongside the pension application/declaration. Veterans could, and often did, apply for a pension under several laws or submit additional applications because of an increase in disability or a dissatisfaction with the Pension Bureau's decision, therefore, records usually contain more than one pension application and claim.
Information about each pension application/declaration and claim is recorded separately. The pension board required that the veteran appear before a Board of Examining Surgeons to determine his rate of disability. Once the board had the veteran's application and the surgeons' determination of disability, they would issue their ruling-granting the pension or rejecting the claim.
A veteran's application for a pension, includes supporting documentation regarding:
- family information
- occupation at enlistment
- employment after discharge from the service
- summary of military and medical wartime experience
- affidavits from comrades, neighbors, family members, and physicians.
There are several types of dependent pensions. These are: widow, minor, parent, dependent major, and sibling. Dependent pensions include information on:
- dependent's name
- including maiden, married, remarried names
- dependent's relationship to the veteran
- dependent's age
- dependent's residence
- veteran's death
- date, cause, and burial
Particularly important is information regarding the veteran's economic status is found in dependent pensions. For example, in order to receive a pension, a parent had to prove that her/his deceased son contributed to the support of the family in a substantial way. In such a situation, one might find an employer's affidavit testifying that the young man worked as a carpenter before enlisting and gave every nickel he earned to his mother for food. Also, to prove their economic dependency, parents might submit a letter or letters the veteran had sent home during the war which mentioned sending his army pay home for the family.
Important material is found in a variety of documents within the pension. An example is the veteran's religious affiliation. We find this type of information in several places, including the baptismal records, marriage certificates, and burial information. Nowhere in the official Pension Bureau forms is the veteran asked to state his religion. Another example is a veteran's residence. Rarely will a document in a pension state that the veteran lived at Constantia, Oswego County, NY from July 1, 1862 to May 10, 1894, but there may be an envelope in the file that gives that address on February 28, 1865. Lacking a "residences" document, we must peruse all documents, including envelopes, for addresses and dates, then piece together the veteran's residence patterns from disparate sources with accompanying quality codes. In the residence example above, the researcher would assign a quality code "9" to the date found on the envelope indicating that on the particular date recorded the recruit lived in Constantia, NY. The "9" is the code for "at present time."
Viewing the pension as a whole document allows us to roughly reconstruct a veteran's life. We do this by recording different places of residence, occupations, levels of labor force participation, health problems, family relations, and standards of living throughout the veteran's pensionable lifetime.
The U.S. Constitution requires that a population census be taken every 10 years in order to apportion seats in the House of Representatives and determine the number of votes in the electoral college and appointments in state and local legislatures. The first census was taken in 1790. Though originally conceived as simply a population count, the censuses evolved to include much more information, such as age, marital status, occupation, birthplace, disability, nativity, etc. This additional data is very useful to historians, economists, demographers, genealogists, etc.
Because of privacy issues, Congress has stipulated a 72-year restriction to access of Federal Census schedules. Because of this restriction, the latest census manuscript we have access to is 1940. The 1850 census was the first to list people other than the head of household, as well as age, occupation, birthplace, and value of real estate. The majority of Civil War soldiers in our sample were born around 1840, so the 1850 census gives us a good idea of the early life of these men.
Census collection begins by extracting information from the Military, Pension, and Medical Records data set to guide us in making the strongest link possible to census schedules. We collect information on the households of the soldiers from the U.S. Federal Censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940. All the information listed on the census manuscripts is collected.
We try to link each soldier to all censuses for which he is alive. Since these men all served in the Civil War (1861-1865), we know they were alive in 1850 and 1860. If a soldier was born in a foreign country and we know from the military information and/or the 1900-1930 censuses that he did not enter the U.S. until after 1850 and/or 1860, do not search for him in those years. If the soldier served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT), he may have been a slave before the war. Slaves were not enumerated on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. If the military records indicate that a soldier was a slave, he is not searched for on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. If a black soldier was born in or enlisted in a free state or a border state (DE, KY, MD, MO, TN, WV), he is searched for in 1850 and 1860.
A "quality code" is assigned to every census link which ranks the strength of a match based on the information found in the military records. The quality codes range from 1 to 4, 1 indicating the strongest link and 4 the weakest.
In the absence of a death date, all soldiers are searched through 1880. When there is no death date in the military record, we use the last living date: application date, residence date, marriage date, discharge date, etc., that proves the soldier was alive, and search for the soldier in all census years including one decade after the last living date.
Examples of immigration variables come from both the Military and Census datasets. The variable ri_entdt gives the recruit's immigration entry date into the United States, which is a value found in the Military data. This is recorded in the standard date format. The variable recimm_1 refers to the recruit's year of immigration to the United States at the time of the 1910 census. Similarly, himm_0 gives a household member's year of immigration, but in 1900. These variables are found in the Census data, and are recorded in the standard date format.
4. User Guide Table
|Variable Label||Variable Name||Data-Set||Source|
|ri_entdt||Recruit's immigration entry date||MIL||PEN: Pension Application Affidavit, Letter, Deposition|
|ri_edtqc||Quality code for recruit's immigration entry date||MIL||Military Quality Codes|
|ri_numyr||Recruit's immigration number of years||MIL||PEN: Pension Application Affidavit, Letter, Deposition|
|recimm, himm||Year of immigration to the U.S. (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)|
|recyus, hyus||Number of years in the U.S. (1900)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1900)|
|recnat, hnat||Naturalization status (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)|
|recnyr, hnyr||Recruit/Household member Year of naturalization (1920)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1920)|
|reccit, hcit||Recruit/Household member a male citizen of U.S. 21 and over (1870)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1870)|
|recscd, hscd||Recruit/Household members state code (1930)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1930)|
|recccd, hccd||Recruit/Household members country code (1930)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1930)|
|recncd, hncd||Recruit/Household members nativity code (1930)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1930)|