Fold3: Original military records online

Fold3 Blog

The official blog of Fold3

Commemorate the Gettysburg Address and Honor the Fallen by Planting a Tree

November 19, 2013 by | Comments Off

150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

President Abraham Lincoln was invited to speak at the dedication of the Soldiers’ Memorial Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. Notable orator Edward Everett was the first to speak that afternoon and delivered a two-hour address that was very well received. Lincoln followed with what is now one of the most notable speeches in U.S. history, and one that lasted only two minutes.

Everett wrote to Lincoln the following day, “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

Despite Lincoln’s words within his Gettysburg Address, that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here,” his remarks endure. The text for the Gettysburg Address is easily found online and in print. Reading it aloud evokes a better understanding of Lincoln’s legacy, as it transports us back one hundred fifty years to when he humbly stated:

We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow, this ground—The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

Today, on the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, we can all be part of creating a living legacy for those who gave “the last full measure” during our country’s most trying time. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War with a simple yet eloquent plan—to plant one tree for each of the 620,000 soldiers who died, as a living memorial for their individual and combined sacrifices.

The trees will create a 180-mile alley along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway which stretches from Gettysburg to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville VA. Each tree represents a life and will be geotagged to allow visitors to learn the name and the story of each soldier. and Fold3 are proud to support the JTHG Partnership by providing access to digital records to participating classrooms for their use in researching soldiers’ stories. We invite you to get involved. Honor the service and remember the sacrifice of your ancestors who fought during the American Civil War by planting a tree and sharing their stories. Visit the Living Legacy Project for more details.

Introducing the Honor Wall

November 6, 2013 by | 7 Comments

Fold3 Featured Title

Unveiled this week in honor of Veterans Day, the Fold3 Honor Wall pays tribute to millions of men and women who served our nation, from colonial days to the present.

We invite you to visit the Honor Wall and help us pay tribute to America’s veterans by sharing your own memories, stories, and photos of a loved one. Whether you have family or friends serving now, or have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War or other conflicts in between, join us in commemorating them. With your help, the Honor Wall will keep their stories alive.

The Honor Wall hosts millions of names, yet it’s just the beginning of a monumental tribute that will grow through your contributions. We’ve redesigned the Fold3 Memorial Pages to include representations of service, along with life events, photos, stories, documents, and connections to family members.

Search for those you know—ancestors, friends, fellow service members, family members, or perhaps you! If you find who you’re looking for, add your own dedication. If you can’t locate a Memorial Page for someone,create one of your own and add it to the Honor Wall. It’s easy!

Just follow the prompts to choose the conflict in which someone served, then add more facts about the individual, including military service. The “Find more records” button will even give you links to possible matches to records on Fold3,, and

Once you’ve contributed to the Honor Wall, let others know. Choose the “Share” link at the bottom of any Memorial Page. Spread the word, and help us commemorate all of America’s heroes.

View sample Memorial Pages for ideas of how you can create or add to your family’s pages.

TMIH – JFK Assassination

November 1, 2013 by | Comments Off

Fold3 This Month in History

The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is an iconic tragedy seared into the consciousness of anyone living that day: November 22, 1963. Even those who weren’t born yet, or were too young to remember the event, know the history, have seen the headlines, or have watched video footage of how an assassin’s bullet shattered a man, his family, and a nation.

News spread quickly. Within hours, hurried accounts of the event were published in the papers.

“President Kennedy has been assassinated. He was killed today by a bullet in the head while riding in an open car through the streets of Dallas. His wife was in the same car, but was not hit. She cradled the President in her arms as he was carried to a hospital where he died.” (The Brownsville Herald)

“Lying wounded at the same hospital was Gov. John Connally of Texas, who was cut down by the same fusillade that ended the life of the youngest man ever elected to the presidency.” (Lake Charles American-Press)

“President Lyndon B. Johnson wears a somber expression moments after he was administered the oath of office in the cabin of the presidential plan at Dallas Love Field.” (The Bridgeport Telegram, photo caption)

There’s more, of course.

A brief account here cannot adequately commemorate Kennedy, describe the events of that day and the weeks that followed, nor describe the impact his assassination had on the country. This month, fifty years later, first-person accounts and moving tributes will fill our news feeds, make their way to television, and absorb our attention in private and public venues.

Fifty years later, we at Fold3 commemorate Kennedy’s legacy beyond his tragic and untimely death. We join the world in paying tribute to the life and memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Visit John F. Kennedy’s Fold3 Memorial Page.

Explore headline news from November 22, 1963, and the days that followed, on

Content Update: Iraq and Afghanistan Casualties

October 21, 2013 by | Comments Off

Fold3 Featured Title

Three new titles have been added to a Fold3 collection called Casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts. Named for three separate military operations, each title includes the names and related personal and service information for over six thousand men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

While the three record sets include “casualties” in their titles, they only contain records for those killed, not wounded. They include:

  • Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Casualties
    “Operation Enduring Freedom” (OEF) is the operational codename given by the United States government to the War in Afghanistan which began in 2001 and is currently an ongoing conflict.
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Casualties
    “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (OIF) is the operational codename given by the United States government to the conflict in Iraq from 2003-2010.
  • Operation New Dawn (OND) Casualties
    “Operation New Dawn” (OND) is the operational codename given by the United States government for U.S. involvement in Iraq after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended on August 31, 2010.

Every casualty links to a Memorial Page with a summary and personal details including full name, branch of service, pay grade and rank, unit, casualty location, date of death, age, residence, and more. In addition to searching for a name, you can also search on other details such as unit number, rank, date of death, or city of residence.

As a Fold3 member, you can add to a Memorial Page by clicking the “Add” or “Edit” buttons within any of the sections: Pictures & Records, Personal Details, and Stories. On the final About page, you can connect to other pages on Fold3 and describe your relationship to the service member. We invite and encourage you to add photos, stories, website links, and other records.

You can also share these Memorial Pages with others by email, via a website link, or on Twitter, Facebook, and dozens of other social networking sites. Through online memorials, Fold3 strives to honor veterans and fallen soldiers, their families, and those who supported them. We hope you’ll join us by adding to the memorial pages of any of the men and women who lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Remarkable photos discovered in Civil War pension files

October 16, 2013 by | 13 Comments

Every now and then we receive some terrific surprises in the files our FamilySearch partners are digitizing at the National Archives. Recently, several 19th-century photographs were literally brought to light as they’ve been tucked away for decades in the Civil War Widows’ Pension files. The photos and some interesting related documents and certificates have been scanned and now can be found on Fold3.

Application William Carman served in Company A of the Pennsylvania 115th Regiment. His widow, Emeline (McDermott) Carman, applied for a widow’s pension (#48977) after William died of wounds received at Chancellersville, Virginia. She included this colorized tintype of her husband in the 217-page file.

When viewing these images on Fold3, be sure to adjust the brightness and contrast by choosing tools on the left side of the viewer. You’ll be amazed at how well the faces and details emerge from these aged and faded photographs.

There are two photographs in the 197-page pension file (#49991) for Annie L. (Palmer) Kimball after her husband, William S. Kimball, died of a gunshot wound at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia. He served in Company A of the 5th New Hampshire Regiment. The images include this framed daguerreotype and a photograph of Martin Giles, alias Thomas Wilson.

This tintype of William J. Crawford was a delightful discovery in the pension application file for his widow, Margaret E. (Scott) Crawford. The page previous to the photo has a handwritten request to return the picture to Charles N. Crawford, a request that was obviously not heeded. William served in the 11th Missouri Regiment, Company L, and died of a bowel infection on 8 October 1864 at Lake Bluff, Arkansas. The file, WC #51588, contains 195 pages.

The pension application file for Frank Zimmerman’s widow, Eliza (Reden) Zimmerman is the largest at 354 pages (WC#52873). Frank Zimmerman, of Company I, 16th New York Cavalry, was accidentally shot near Falls Church, Virginia, “by the carelessness of a comrade in handling a carbine.”

Civil War Tintype with Yellow TintsThere are four photographs in this file including a tintype with yellow tints added, a similar tintype, heavily scratched, a black & white headshot with writing on the back, and the same photo in sepia, also with writing on the back by his comrade William F. Von Deyn of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Each of these pension applications are large and intriguing files, and each tells a unique story. While most of the Civil War “Widows’ Pensions” are filmed in greyscale, Fold3 scanned these four files in color to bring the full details of the images to light. We hope you enjoy these peeks into the past. And, if you’re related to any of the men whose photos were discovered here, we hope you’ll let us know.

TMIH – October 12, 1870:
General Robert E. Lee Dies

October 10, 2013 by | Comments Off

Fold3 This Month in History

“The education of a man is never completed until he dies” is a statement attributed to Robert E. Lee, whose education was completed in 1870 as death reached him only five years after surviving the U.S. Civil War as the head of the Army of the Confederate States of America (CSA).

General Lee died in Lexington, Virginia, on October 12, 1870, at the age of 63. Mourners at his funeral are pictured standing on the steps of Arlington House, residence of the Lee and Custis families for decades, and now known as The Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.

Lee was born on January 19, 1807, at his family’s Stratford Hall plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia. After attending West Point, he forged a promising military career and distinguished himself in the Mexican American War. Later, he would command the CSA Army and, in the last years of his life, serve as president of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University.

There are several photos on Fold3, one showing Lee in profile, another with son George Washington Custis Lee, and his famous portrait as a Confederate general. Many more documents relating to Lee and his family can be found in Fold3’s Civil War Collection.

As a second-year student at West Point in 1827, Cadet Robert E. Lee appears on a list of assistant professors at the academy in Letters Received by the Adjutant General, 1822-1860. Lee’s name and signature appear often within that title and in the later set of Letters Received by the Adjutant General, 1861-1870. In this 1855 document, Lee accepts an appointment of Lieutenant Colonel and swears allegiance to the United States of America. Later, he’s recommended for promotion to brigadier general by J.M. Porter in a letter to President Buchanan. It was an appointment that didn’t happen despite Porter’s effusive endorsement.

Prior to the Civil War, Lee headed a board of officers tasked with examining effective signal communications. His 1859 reports begin here and continue for 179 pages. When Virginia voted to secede from the Union on April 17, 1861, Lee felt obligated to fight for his home state and signed a resignation letter three days later. In his new position, he wrote a letter to General McClellan regarding an exchange of prisoners on July 24, 1862,

Confederate Amnesty Papers contain applications of former Confederates for presidential pardons and, while there are many post-war oaths of allegiance to the USA by former CSA officers like General George E. Pickett and Lee’s nephew Fitzhugh Lee, General Lee’s request and pardon are not among them. Learn the story behind it in the Spring 2005 issue of NARA’s Prologue magazine.

After his death, Robert E. Lee’s legacy strengthened in both the South and the North. He is remembered as a brilliant military leader, a devoted family man, and a great American.

Content Update: Pension Numerical Index, 1860-1934

October 8, 2013 by | 2 Comments

The Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index, one of Fold3’s earliest titles, now has a partner in the recently added Pension Numerical Index. Officially called A1158, Numerical Index to Pensions, 1860-1934, this card index from the National Archives is a great cross-referencing tool as it covers pension application and certificate numbers for men who fought in wars prior to, during, or after the Civil War.

Aside from being a rather cool index, cards may include up to twenty names for low numbers and four or five names for higher numbers. It is a helpful resource for confirming hard-to-decipher numbers on other indexes, or for cross-referencing application and certificate numbers.

While mostly comprised of Civil War and later pension numbers, the earliest cards include entries for soldiers in the Indian War, Mexican War, War of 1812, and the “Old War,” this last covering those who served from the end of the Revolutionary War to the beginning of the Civil War (1783-1861).

The cards are presented in numerical order, yet every card is indexed by name as well. The Pension Numerical Index can be used in tandem with other records on Fold3 like the Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index (T289), and pension files for Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Let’s look at a few examples.

If you find a card in T289 that’s difficult to read, like this one for a minor dependent of Conrad Geveke, you can search on his name within the Pension Numerical Index to locate a card for application number 64685 where his pension’s certificate number (62762) is also listed on the card (and the letter “C” marks it as that for a child, or minor.) Our search for Conrad Geveke yields two hits, however, and the second card is 62762, the certificate number.

Other names on card #62762 direct you to pensions for three other men. Note that Nicodemus F. Orem’s application number is 62762, but his certificate number is 81107, which we find here. If we search for Nicodemus F. Orem in T289, we won’t find him unless we use a variant spelling of his first name as Nicodemas.

Both Army and Navy certificate numbers are referenced. Search for a sailor named John C. Joyce and you’ll find the 51169 index card on which Joyce is one of five pensioners listed. The other four entries reference Army pensioners by application and certificate numbers. We also find Joyce’s pension certificate #36486 cross-referenced on the card. After locating his file within the Navy Survivors’ Certificates on Fold3, we find number 36486 indexed with his name, and it appears on many of the documents. Application “No. 51169″ is noted on page 19 of Joyce’s 89-page file.

A search for Peter Eckley brings us to a card numbered 84353. His name appears in the section for Army certificate numbers of dependants. Eckley was in the Indiana Infantry, Regiment 91, Company H, but the dependant in this case is his widow, Eliza Ann—noted by the “W” on the index card under “service.” Of interest within her 42-page pension file are a Fort Wayne undertaker’s receipt and a letter to her doctor acknowledging that the government will pay $10 of his bill for $354.75.

Imagine the long history of American military service indexed via the extremely large number of pensioners recorded on these cards. If a serviceman’s story isn’t available yet on Fold3 within its extensive sets of military pension files, you can use the information on the Pension Numerical Index to order files from NARA.