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September 19, 2009

GENEALOGY: How to order key Civil War records

TERRE HAUTE — For the past two weeks we have been discussing the types of Civil War records that are located in the National Archives (NARA). There are two kinds of records covering the service of a Civil War ancestor-pension records and compiled military service records. This week will conclude the series by discussing how to order these records.

1. What form is used to order Civil War pension records and military service records? Prior to 2000, there was just one order form for both records, but this caused confusion. Now each document must be ordered on a separate form. Use form NATF 85 to order a pension record and form NATF 86 to order a complied military service record (CMSR).

2. How do I get these order forms? There are four ways to access the paper order forms: call the National Archives at 800-234-8861 or 301-713-6800, e-mail a request to inquire@nara.gov, download a PDF version at www.archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html#part-a, or write to NARA at Archives 1 Reference, Textual Archives Services Division, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001. After the word “reference” write (NWCT1F-Pension) if ordering NATF 85 forms or (NWCT1F-Military) if ordering NATF 86 forms. Also use the above addresses to send in the completed order forms.

3. If I have one of the original order forms, can I just make photocopies and use those for additional orders? No. Each order form has a unique number on it and that is how it is tracked through the system. NARA will not process orders made on photocopied forms.

4. Can I order directly on line? Yes. Go to www.archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html, click on the “order reproductions” link, and on the next screen scroll down to the bottom and click on the “military service and pension records” link; there will then be a list of records displayed, choose the record, and place the order.

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