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Let’s move it

Here in Salt Lake City, where the Federation of Genealogical Societies is holding its 2015 conference side-by-side with RootsTech, the word came yesterday:

The digitization of the War of 1812 pensions — a major initiative of FGS with support from and many other supporting partners particularly from local and state genealogical societies — is halfway home.


This is a massive effort, trying to digitize all of the War of 1812 pension records held by the National Archives. These records, documenting more than 180,000 pension applications for War of 1812 soldiers and their families, are among the most heavily requested documents at the National Archives and, because of their use, their age and their fragile nature, they are at serious risk. So they really need to be digitized to protect them forever.

The campaign to get them digitized is called “Preserve The Pensions” and, overall, the price tag to digitize all of the files and put them online where they can be accessed free is going to run into the millions of dollars.

And our community has brought that effort halfway home. The money has been raised to get one half of the records digitized — leaving just one half to go.

Which, of course, means we can’t quit now. We have to keep moving to get every last one of these pages of records done.

Friend and colleague Michael Hall of FamilySearch was thinking the same thing this week. Michael is a staunch supporter of the “Preserve The Pensions” campaign who hand-crafted miniature War of 1812 figurines and has sold them to raise funds for the pensions. But Michael has run out of figurines to sell.

So… he thought … what if he did something else? What if he said he would run, bike or walk 1812 miles in the next 12 months? Would anybody sponsor that?

And The Legal Genealogist couldn’t turn down that challenge. “Sure,” I said, “my readers and I will.”

How about it? Can we raise enough to put a dollar on the table for every mile Michael runs, bikes or walks? How about five dollars for every mile? Can we make it ten dollars for every mile?

If we can raise $1812, with matching from, that will digitize 8,053 pages. If we can raise $9,060 (five dollars a mile), we can pay for more than 40,000 pages. And if we can raise $18,120 ($10 a mile), we can pay for more than 80,000 pages.

So… come on along with Michael and The Legal Genealogist. Let’s move this campaign down the road to completion. Remember, every dollar you contribute is matched by and becomes two dollars — and we’re going to need all the dollars we can get to bring this project all the way home. Every dollar contributed means two pages of a pension file can be digitized — and with matching funds from, that becomes four pages saved.

Want in? You can use PayPal to contribute. The email account to use — and every penny will be accounted for and transferred regularly to Preserve the Pensions — is legalgenealogist (at)

Let’s move it. And bring the pensions into the digital world, free for us all to use, forever.

Besides… Michael needs the exercise.

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