The Union Army data has significant economic information on the recruit and his household, including his wealth and income. Wealth and income information comes from the Military records and U.S. Federal Census. This includes the recruit's state of finances and property home ownership.
2. Variable Groups
Collection: Military, Pension, and Medical Records
Wealth and Income: Recruit's wealth and income information, Recruit's wealth and income source, Recruit's wealth information date, Recruit's wealth/income description, Recruit's wealth amount
State of Finances: Recruit's state of finances, Recruit's state of finances date
Collection: U.S. Federal Census
Wealth: Recruit's real estate owned, Recruit's personal property, Household member real estate owned, Household member personal property
Property Home Ownership: Recruit owns or rents home, Recruit owns property free or mortgage, Recruit owns farm or house, Household member owns or rents home, Household member owns property free or mortgage, Household member owns farm or house, Recruit or Household member has a radio set
3. Historical Background
3.1 Original Sources
There are two primary sources of economic data. The first is the Pension record. Recruit wealth and income and state of finances information can be found in widows' applications, affidavits and depositions. The second source is the U.S. Federal Census.
Information regarding the veteran's economic status is found in dependent pensions. For example, in order to receive a pension, a parent had to prove that her/his deceased son contributed to the support of the family in a substantial way. In such a situation, one might find an employer's affidavit testifying that the young man worked as a carpenter before enlisting and gave every nickel he earned to his mother for food. Also, to prove their economic dependency, parents might submit a letter or letters the veteran had sent home during the war which mentioned sending his army pay home for the family.
Civil War pensions were available for veterans with disabilities as well as for deceased veterans' widows, minor children, dependent major children, and parents. Under the Act of July 14, 1862, the first pension legislation specific to the Civil War, the veterans were eligible only for disabilities (wounds or chronic illnesses) received during wartime. The Act of June 27, 1890 changed that requirement and expanded eligibility to include disabilities not directly related to wartime experience. As a result, the number of men on the pension rolls swelled. Laws passed after 1907 changed the pension from disability-based to age-based.
When a veteran wanted to receive a pension, he would, under his attorney's supervision, submit an application/declaration. This form was sent to the Pension Bureau in Washington D.C., which reviewed the application and collected further testimony in support of the veteran's application. The decision is recorded on a claim form, which is input alongside the pension application/declaration. Veterans could, and often did, apply for a pension under several laws or submit additional applications because of an increase in disability or a dissatisfaction with the Pension Bureau's decision, therefore, records usually contain more than one pension application and claim.
Information about each pension application/declaration and claim is recorded separately. The pension board required that the veteran appear before a Board of Examining Surgeons to determine his rate of disability. Once the board had the veteran's application and the surgeons' determination of disability, they would issue their ruling-granting the pension or rejecting the claim.
A veteran's application for a pension, includes supporting documentation regarding:
- family information
- occupation at enlistment
- employment after discharge from the service
- summary of military and medical wartime experience
- affidavits from comrades, neighbors, family members, and physicians.
There are several types of dependent pensions. These are: widow, minor, parent, dependent major, and sibling. Dependent pensions include information on:
- including maiden, married, remarried names
- dependent's relationship to the veteran
- dependent's age
- dependent's residence
- date, cause, and burial
Important material is found in a variety of documents within the pension. An example is the veteran's religious affiliation. We find this type of information in several places, including the baptismal records, marriage certificates, and burial information. Nowhere in the official Pension Bureau forms is the veteran asked to state his religion. Another example is a veteran's residence. Rarely will a document in a pension state that the veteran lived at Constantia, Oswego County, NY from July 1, 1862 to May 10, 1894, but there may be an envelope in the file that gives that address on February 28, 1865. Lacking a "residences" document, we must peruse all documents, including envelopes, for addresses and dates, then piece together the veteran's residence patterns from disparate sources with accompanying quality codes. In the residence example above, the researcher would assign a quality code "9" to the date found on the envelope indicating that on the particular date recorded the recruit lived in Constantia, NY. The "9" is the code for "at present time."
Viewing the pension as a whole document allows us to roughly reconstruct a veteran's life. We do this by recording different places of residence, occupations, levels of labor force participation, health problems, family relations, and standards of living throughout the veteran's pensionable lifetime.
The U.S. Constitution requires that a population census be taken every 10 years in order to apportion seats in the House of Representatives and determine the number of votes in the electoral college and appointments in state and local legislatures. The first census was taken in 1790. Though originally conceived as simply a population count, the censuses evolved to include much more information, such as age, marital status, occupation, birthplace, disability, nativity, etc. This additional data is very useful to historians, economists, demographers, genealogists, etc.
Because of privacy issues, Congress has stipulated a 72-year restriction to access of Federal Census schedules. Because of this restriction, the latest census manuscript we have access to is 1940. The 1850 census was the first to list people other than the head of household, as well as age, occupation, birthplace, and value of real estate. The majority of Civil War soldiers in our sample were born around 1840, so the 1850 census gives us a good idea of the early life of these men.
Economic data on wealth and income, state of finances, and property ownership comes from the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 census manuscripts.
Census collection begins by extracting information from the Military, Pension, and Medical Records data set to guide us in making the strongest link possible to census schedules. We collect information on the households of the soldiers from the U.S. Federal Censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940. All the information listed on the census manuscripts is collected.
We try to link each soldier to all censuses for which he is alive. Since these men all served in the Civil War (1861-1865), we know they were alive in 1850 and 1860. If a soldier was born in a foreign country and we know from the military information and/or the 1900-1930 censuses that he did not enter the U.S. until after 1850 and/or 1860, do not search for him in those years. If the soldier served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT), he may have been a slave before the war. Slaves were not enumerated on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. If the military records indicate that a soldier was a slave, he is not searched for on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. If a black soldier was born in or enlisted in a free state or a border state (DE, KY, MD, MO, TN, WV), he is searched for in 1850 and 1860.
A "quality code" is assigned to every census link which ranks the strength of a match based on the information found in the military records. The quality codes range from 1 to 4, 1 indicating the strongest link and 4 the weakest.
In the absence of a death date, all soldiers are searched through 1880. When there is no death date in the military record, we use the last living date: application date, residence date, marriage date, discharge date, etc., that proves the soldier was alive, and search for the soldier in all census years including one decade after the last living date.
Examples of wealth and income variables are rw_inf and reclan which give a recruit's wealth and income information and real estate owned. The variable rw_inf10 is a description of the type of information for a recruit's wealth and income. The numerical suffix represents one instance of a recruit's wealth and income from the pension record and follow no chronological order in time. The variable reclan_5 is the dollar value of real estate and personal property owned by a recruit in the 1850 census year. Its numerical suffix corresponds to the census year from which it was taken.
The variables reclan and hlan give the dollar value of real estate and personal property owned by the recruit or household member. For example, reclan_5 is the real estate owned by a recruit in 1850 and hlan_6 is the real estate owned by a household member in 1860. The variables recoor and hoor explain whether the recruit or household member owns or rents their home. So, recoor_0 is the recruit's owns or rents home designation in 1900 and hoor_1 is the household member's owns or rents home designation in 1910.
4. User Guide Table
|Variable Label||Variable Name||Data-Set||Source|
|rw_inf01 - rw_inf15||Recruit's wealth and income information||MIL||PEN: Pension Application Affidavit , Deposition Pension Application Widow Pension Application Parent Pension Application Child|
|rw_ins01 - rw_ins15||Recruit's wealth and income source||MIL||PEN: Pension Application Affidavit , Deposition Pension Application Widow Pension Application Parent Pension Application Child|
|rw_ind01 - rw_ind15||Recruit's wealth information date||MIL||PEN: Pension Application Affidavit , Deposition Pension Application Widow Pension Application Parent Pension Application Child|
|rw_iqc01 - rw_iqc15||Quality code for recruit's wealth information date||MIL||Military Quality Codes|
|rw_des01 - rw_des15||Recruit's wealth/income description||MIL|
|rw_amt01 - rw_amt15||Recruit's wealth amount||MIL|
|rf_stof1 - rf_stof6||Recruit's state of finances||MIL|
|rf_stdt1 - rf_stdt6||Recruit's state of finances date||MIL|
|rf_stqc1 - rf_stqc6||Quality code for recruit's state of finances date||MIL||Military Quality Codes|
|reclan, hlan||Recruit/Household member real estate owned (1850, 1860, 1870)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census ( 1850 , 1860 , 1870 )|
|recprp, hprp||Recruit/Household member personal property (1860, 1870)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census ( 1860 , 1870 )|
|recoor, hoor||Recruit/Household member owns or rents home (1900, 1910)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census ( 1900 , 1910 )|
|recfom, hfom||Recruit/Household member owns property free or mortgage (1900, 1910)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census ( 1900 , 1910 )|
|recfoh, hfoh||Recruit/Household member own farm or house (1900, 1910)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census ( 1900 , 1910 )|
|rechvl, hhvl||Recruit/Household member home value (1930)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census ( 1930 )|
|recrdo, hrdo||Recruit/Household member has radio set (1930)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census ( 1930 )|