Our Mission

Welcome to The Overseas Pension Project, a big cultural data project stemming from the collaboration of historical societies, universities, and individuals.  We are a team of archivists, historians, genealogists, and information managers with a common mission: exploring data trapped within 200 year old archival documents.

Following the Revolutionary War, soldiers received compensation from the Federal government for injuries incurred while in public service.  If the soldier died as a result of his injuries, his widow, minor children, mother, father or other person dependent on the soldier for a living could apply for a pension.  While some pensioners remained in the United StatesPension Bureau Bldg - Front, others returned to their country of origin or moved somewhere else outside of the United States.  In order to ensure proper payments of money, the U.S. Pension Bureau kept extensive rolls of pensioners and where they lived, including those who moved abroad.  These pensioners served in conflicts after the Revolutionary War, including the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American war; it also includes military personnel injured or killed during peace time while on active duty.  This documentation comes from records of various agencies, in particular the Bureau of Pensions, the War Department, the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury.  Each agency kept its records slightly differently so they come in an assortment of types; there are correspondence files, narrative and statistical reports, pension files, lists of names, and financial records.

          What is the Project’s Goal?

The Overseas Pension Project’s goal is to find, scan, and index records documenting people who received pensions from the American Federal government prior to World War I, but who lived outside of the United States, and make that data available to user groups through the creation of repositories of digitized records and datasets.

Who are the Primary Target Audiences?

  • Genealogists throughout the world
  • Historians throughout the world studying the migration of people, treatment of veterans, local

    communities, or medicine

    What are the Document Sources?

  • Original textual documents, e.g. letters, reports, and case files
  • Visual images, e.g. maps, vintage postcards, photographs
  • Government documents, e.g. annual & special reports of the Bureau of Pensions

    What will Students Learn from the Project?

  • How to scan different document formats
  • How to use different pieces of scanning equipment
  • How to identify and collect descriptive metadata
  • How to link documents from different sources and different document formats
  • How to work with original government documents
  • How to work with published government documents
  • How to create datasets & searchable indexes
  • How to develop products tailored to specific, potential user groups

    For more information contact – Dr. Kenneth Heger, kheger@umd.edu

Utilizing digital curation tools, the Overseas Pension Project aims to release the rich genealogical and historical data contained within these digitized records. Historians and historical societies can access correspondence dating back to 19th and 2oth century. Genealogists and families can explore databases and documents pertaining to family members or Civil War figures. Economists and sociologists can quickly navigate significant immigration and economic data to conduct statistical studies about this period in American history. The possibilities are endless when everyone can access their public records.

Follow our team as we investigate historical sources, archival practices, and modern technology to extract the historical narrative following the Civil War.

Welcome to our project!