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Ireland, Royal Hospital Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Documents

September 15, 2017 by | 5 Comments

Fold3 Image - Example of an earlier Pension Admissions Book (1700s)
If you have ancestors from Ireland who received an army pension between 1724 and 1924, come explore Fold3’s collection of Royal Hospital Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Documents!

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham, located in Dublin, Ireland, was founded in 1679 and handled the pensions of Irish Regiments (as well as some English, Scottish, and Welsh units, though most pensions for non-Irish regiments were handled by the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London). The Royal Hospital Kilmainham was originally built as a home for retired soldiers, and as such, some of the men who qualified for pensions were “in-pensioners,” which meant they surrendered their pensions and lived at the Royal Hospital; however, many more were “out-pensioners,” meaning they received their pensions while living elsewhere.

The hospital dealt with pensions for regiments in the Irish Army Establishment until 1800, when the British and Irish Army Establishments were combined. In 1822, the out-pensions administered by Kilmainham were shifted over to the Royal Hospital Chelsea; however, soldiers discharged in Ireland were still examined at Kilmainham before their information was passed along to Chelsea until the 1860s, and in-pensioners continued to live at Kilmainham until 1929.

Veterans were eligible to receive a pension if they had a disabling injury and had either been invalided home or completed 12 years of service. Officers’ pensions were not typically handled by the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, as pensions were usually awarded to officers through the “half-pay” system.

On Fold3, this collection is actually in two parts: the Pension Admissions and the Pensioners’ Discharge Documents. The records fall between 1724 and 1924. The Pension Admissions are registers of in- and out- pensioners of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The pensioners in these books are typically ordered by the date the veteran was examined for pension. Information found in these registers can include name, regiment, rank, length of service, illness or disability, birthplace, occupation, physical description, and more. Admissions registers for earlier years contain less information than those for later years. The Pension Admissions section also contains two registers of in-pensioners (covering 1839 until 1922), as well as a register of pensioners living abroad (1819-1822).

The Pensioners’ Discharge Documents contain pensioners’ certificates of service. These documents may contain service history information (corps, rank, years of service), as well as the man’s physical description, trade, birthplace, medical condition, and more.

On Fold3, the records in this title are grouped first into Admissions and Discharge documents as mentioned above. The Pension Admission Books are then typically arranged by date. The Discharge documents are also roughly arranged by date; however, they are more specifically arranged by the veteran’s discharge number, an index to which can be found in Pieces 1–12 of the Pension Admissions. This all being the case, knowing the approximate date your ancestor was awarded his pension (or at least the rough dates when he was drawing his pension) will make it easier to find him in this collection, as you will need to browse rather than use the search tool.

Start browsing the Ireland, Royal Hospital Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Documents on Fold3!

Learn More about the Vietnam War on Fold3

September 1, 2017 by | 52 Comments

On September 17, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s highly anticipated 10-part documentary The Vietnam War will begin airing. In the meantime, brush up on your knowledge of the conflict on Fold3 with the more than 21 million records in our Vietnam War collection.

There are currently 17 titles in our Vietnam Collection, and each provides a unique perspective on the decades-long conflict. If you’re not sure where to start, below we’ve spotlighted 5 titles that will be sure to interest you:

Photos: Fold3 has 4 Vietnam photo collections—Vietnam Marine Corps (B/W), Vietnam War Marine Corps, Vietnam War Army, and Vietnam War Navy. Many of the thousands of photos in these titles are in color, and they capture nearly every subject imaginable, from service members, to aircraft, to local Vietnamese, to military offensives, and beyond.

Vietnam Service Awards: This title includes candidates for Meritorious Unit Commendations, Navy Unit Commendations, Presidential Unit Citations, Presidential Unit Commendations, Valorous Unit Awards, and Vietnam Unit Awards. Not only do the records in this title contain explanations and the history of each recommendation, but they also describe the missions, list the soldiers, and outline the process of approving or disapproving the award.

Medal of Honor Recipients: Citations for Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients are included in this title. The citations tell you when and where the Medal of Honor action occurred and typically give a fairly extensive description of the action and why it was considered deserving of a Medal of Honor. The Vietnam War medal citations begin on page 799 of the first volume (1863-1978). There are also a few Vietnam-era citations in the second volume (1979-2013), beginning on page 28.

The Pentagon Papers: This formerly top-secret report was originally leaked to the New York Times in 1971 and revealed damaging insights into U.S. policy in Vietnam, creating a whirlwind of controversy. In 2011, the full 7,000-page report was declassified and released to the public.

Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The interactive memorial on Fold3 was made of 6,301 photographs of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC that were stitched together by computer into a single, high-quality image. The Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial allows you to either search for a name or look at a high-resolution image of the wall—as if you were really in Washington DC. Every name on Fold3’s Vietnam Wall is connected to an Honor Wall page for the veteran that you can view or edit.

Search or browse these Vietnam War titles and more on Fold3!

US Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards

August 21, 2017 by | 18 Comments

Fold3 Image - Example of Navy Invalid card
Do you have an ancestor who received a U.S Army or Navy pension between 1907 and 1933? Check out Fold3’s collection of US Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards!

These payment cards document pension payments made to disabled veterans of the regular Army or Navy or their widows between 1907 and 1933. Prior to 1907, pension payments were recorded in pension agency payment books, but in 1907, the pension bureau switched to a card system and transferred all active pensioners to this new system. The system changed again in 1923, when they switched from quarterly to monthly payments. Pension payments made under this new system were recorded on a new card.

There are four classes of cards: those for Army invalids, Army widows, Navy invalids, and Navy widows. The four types of card are very similar. Although the information actually recorded on each card varies, the cards contain the following fields:

  • name of veteran
  • certificate number
  • unit or arm of service
  • disability for which pensioned
  • law or laws under which pensioned
  • class of pension or certificate
  • rate of pension
  • effective date of pension
  • date of the certificate
  • any fees paid
  • name of the pension agency or group transferred from (if applicable)
  • date of death
  • date the Bureau was notified
  • former roll number
  • home

On the widows’ cards, the woman’s name replaces the veteran’s, and the veteran’s name replaces the disability information. There is also a space for payments made to minors. Since payments were made to widows as well as to the veterans themselves, your military ancestor might have a pension payment card even if he died before 1907.

On Fold3, the cards are organized alphabetically by the surname and then given name of the veteran, even for the widows’ cards. This will save you time, as it eliminates the hassle of looking up a veteran’s pension under the name of his widow.

Keep in mind that there might be more than one person with the same name, so double check that it really is your ancestor. If you can’t find the person you’re looking for in the records, try looking under any nicknames or aliases your ancestor may have used and also check alternative spellings.

Get started searching or browsing for your ancestors in Fold3’s US Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards today!

National Aviation Day

August 11, 2017 by | 9 Comments

Fold3 Image - The last North American B-25 to come off the assembly line at the plant in Inglewood, California; employees covered the plane with their names
National Aviation Day falls on August 19, Orville Wright’s birthday. It was established in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to encourage interest in aviation in the United States. If you’re fascinated by aviation, particularly military aviation, Fold3 is a goldmine of images and documents that will expand your knowledge of the history of flight.

Check out the aviation-related images below from Fold3’s World War II and Vietnam photo collections, which you can access for free with registration. And if they spark your curiosity, try searching Fold3 for more photos like these. (Tip: try using search terms like “plane,” “airplane,” “pilot,” “flight,” and so on.)

World War II


Have you found any interesting aviation-related images or documents on Fold3? Share them with us! Or get started searching or browsing Fold3 for aviation topics.

Battle of Long Island: August 27, 1776

August 1, 2017 by | 55 Comments

Fold3 Image - American morale low after loss at Battle of Long Island
On August 27, 1776, the British army defeated Patriot troops at the Battle of Long Island, New York. Though the Americans were soundly defeated, they were able to safely evacuate their troops and avoid what would have been the probable destruction of a large part of the Continental Army.

After the British were pushed out of Boston in March 1776, they next set their sights on capturing New York City and the vital Hudson River. During that summer, 32,000 British and Hessian troops under the command of General William Howe arrived on Staten Island, where they began preparing for their attack on Long Island. General George Washington, unsure where exactly the British planned to attack, split his approximately 20,000 troops between Manhattan Island and Long Island, even though he already had fewer troops than Howe.

15,000 British troops landed on the southwest shore of Long Island on August 22, with a few thousand additional Hessian troops arriving later. A portion of the roughly seven thousand American troops on the island were strung out along six miles of a ridge, with Americans protecting most of the passes through that ridge. However, one of the passes (Jamaica Pass on the American left) was left virtually undefended. The British decided on a diversionary tactic in which part of their army would harass the American front, while the majority of the British troops would make their way through Jamaica Pass to attack the American left flank.

So on the night of the 26th, British troops made their way through Jamaica Pass, and on the morning of the 27th the British plan was successfully carried out. When attacked from both front and flank, the American defenses crumbled. A daring, if ill-fated, counterattack by Maryland troops helped give the surviving Patriots time to retreat to their fortifications at Brooklyn Heights.

Fold3 Image - Account of the American army's escape across the East River
However, rather than launching a direct assault against the Americans’ position at Brooklyn Heights, General Howe—believing the Americans were trapped between the British and the East River—decided instead to lay siege on their position. This reprieve gave Washington the chance to evacuate his troops, which he did in secret on the night of the 29th under the cover of rain and fog. Using small boats, the Americans were able to withdraw all of their troops across the East River to Manhattan without the British noticing.

The British would later pursue the Americans and eventually capture New York, but the Continental Army’s escape from Long Island would go down as an impressive feat that saved the Patriot army from disaster.

Do you have ancestors who fought at Long Island? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the battle on Fold3.

New Zealand Expeditionary Force Records

July 19, 2017 by | 3 Comments

Fold3 Image - First page (out of 5) of service record abstract for Martin Anderson
Do you have any relatives who served as officers in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) during World War I? Learn more about them in Fold3’s New Zealand Expeditionary Force Records.

This title is a facsimile reprint of Lt. Colonel John Studholme’s book New Zealand Expeditionary Force Record of Personal Service During the War, published in 1928. Though the book is not technically an official New Zealand government publication, it is based on official records and endorsed by the New Zealand Defence Department, making it official in all but name.

The book mainly covers the careers of officers in the NZEF during World War I and includes information like name, regiment, rank, and appointment or discharge date. It also documents the honors and decorations awarded to NZEF personnel. In addition to officers of the NZEF, the book contains information on nurses, first-class warrant officers, and officers and others who served in a subsidiary capacity to the NZEF. Other topics covered include:

  • Composition of the NZEF
  • Units and formation of NZEF
  • Strength of NZEF
  • Regulations of NZEF
  • Embarkations of NZEF
  • Demobilization embarkations of NZEF
  • New Zealand’s war effort (as regards personnel)
  • Operations in which NZEF took part
  • Casualties
  • Prisoners of War

The NZEF was created in August 1914 and was part of the British forces. Nearly 99,000 people served in New Zealand units overseas during the war, with an additional 7,000 serving within New Zealand; more than 2,000 served in Maori units. The majority of people who served in the NZEF were volunteers, and the NZEF was not limited to those born in New Zealand; any British subject could join. By the end of the war, about 18,000 people in the NZEF had died, including those who were killed in the Gallipoli campaign, Somme offensive, Messines offensive, and Passchendaele offensive

Do you have any relatives who served with the NZEF? Tell us about them! Or get started searching or browsing Fold3’s New Zealand Expeditionary Force Records.

The Battle of Gettysburg Ends: July 3, 1863

July 1, 2017 by | 341 Comments

Fold3 Image - Map of the battlefield of Gettysburg. [July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 1863]
On July 3, 1863, the three-day Battle of Gettysburg came to a close, leaving behind an estimated 51,000 total casualties—the highest number of any battle in the Civil War

Following a series of military successes in Virginia, Confederate general Robert E. Lee took his troops north in June 1863 into south-central Pennsylvania. Lee was unaware until late June that the Union’s Army of the Potomac, under General George G. Meade, had followed his army north, as Lee’s cavalry, under JEB Stuart, was separated from the main body of the army and was thus unable to provide intel on the enemy’s movements.

On July 1, elements of Lee’s army came up against Union cavalry by chance outside the town of Gettysburg and fighting broke out. Both sides received reinforcements, and the Confederates were eventually able to push back the Federals to south of Gettysburg. During the evening and the following morning, both sides gathered the rest of their armies, for a total of 83,000 Union troops and 75,000 Confederate.

At the commencement of fighting the following afternoon, July 2, the Union army was arranged like a fishhook, with the Confederates surrounding them to the north and west in roughly the same shape. The 2nd saw bloody fighting on the Union left and center, but despite high casualties, the Union was generally able to repulse the Confederates. Fighting also occurred on the Union right later that evening and continued on after dark in a rare night battle.

On the 3rd, the Confederates once again launched an attack on the Union right, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Then, following a massive artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center in what is commonly known as Pickett’s Charge. During this attack, approximately 12,000 Confederate troops crossed nearly a mile of open ground to attack Union positions but were decimated by Union fire. The Confederates who made it to the enemy lines managed to briefly break through, but they were eventually repulsed. Also on this day, the Confederate cavalry—which had arrived on the afternoon of the 2nd—was put into action off the Union right flank, but with little result.

On the 4th, Lee waited for Meade’s counterattack on his position, but it never came, so Lee’s army withdrew back over the Potomac. Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the war, with 23,000 Union casualties and 28,000 Confederate. It is often considered the turning point in the war and commonly referred to as the “high tide” of the Confederacy.

Do you have ancestors who fought at Gettysburg? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the battle on Fold3.