This partnership will begin with a pilot project to digitize, index, and make available the first 3,150 of the pension files. Upon successful completion of the pilot, GSU, doing business as FamilySearch, in conjunction with Footnote.com, intends to digitize and index all 1,280,000 Civil War and later widows' files in the series. These records, of great interest to genealogists and others, are currently available only at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. The widows' pension application files, a rich source of information about ordinary American citizens of the time, include supporting documents such as affidavits, depositions of witnesses, marriage certificates, birth records, death certificates, and pages from family bibles.
"For a number of years we have had a very productive relationship with FamilySearch," said Professor Allen Weinstein. "This agreement expands our relationship to enable online access to some of the most popular and voluminous records in our holdings. It is an exciting step forward for our institutions and for the American people," he added.
"There is an unbelievable treasure trove of genealogical information housed in the records of the National Archives; the vast majority of which genealogy enthusiasts have never seen," said Wayne Metcalfe. "The growing digital collection and indices that will stem from this relationship will be a priceless resource for countless family historians and researchers."
FamilySearch will make the digitized materials available for free through www.FamilySearch.org and in 4500 family history centers worldwide, or on a subscription-based web site operated by a third party, subject to National Archives approval. They will also be available at no charge in National Archives' research rooms in Washington, DC, and regional facilities across the country. In addition, FamilySearch will donate to the National Archives a copy of all the digital images and the associated indexes and other metadata that they create.
This agreement is one of a series of agreements that the National Archives has reached or will reach with partners to digitize portions of its holdings.