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Michael’s progress

It was back in February, when the Federation of Genealogical Societies was holding its 2015 conference side-by-side with RootsTech, that Michael Hall made the decision.

MHallHe wanted to do something more, something different, to support the “Preserve The Pensions” campaign that has been a key project of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

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 carries an overall price tag that runs into the millions of dollars. And we’re just a little more than half-way there.

This is the hard part of any fundraising campaign. The initial “let’s do it” fervor has died down, people kind of get tired of seeing the “donate now” buttons, other things come up that need and deserve our support.

So, Michael thought, how could he help bring this campaign a little further down the road?

It isn’t that he hasn’t already done a lot. Michael — who works at FamilySearch — has hand-crafted miniature War of 1812 figurines and sold them at every major conference to help raise funds for the pensions. He’s bringing hand-crafted War of 1812 sailor figurines to the National Genealogical Society conference in St. Charles starting next week.

But he wanted to do something more.

So… he thought … what if he did something really different? 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.”

So it’s now May. And, Michael reports, he has been one busy guy.

What/When February March April Total
Swim Miles 1.25 0.5 0.5 2.25
Bike Miles 80 240 168 488
Run Miles 49 97.3 99.1 245.4
Grand Total Miles 130.25 337.8 267.6 735.65

How is Michael doing this? Well, just as one example, on April 25th, he ran the Interfaith Society Services Center, South Shore “Helping our Neighbors in Need” 5K race in Quincy, Massachusetts in behalf of those in need of food and clothing.

The photo here shows him getting ready to start that five kilometer race. And while running the race, he reports, he “wondered how many of the War of 1812 veterans were often without the essentials of basic food and clothing, especially later in life. For many of the veterans the pension was their only lifeline to survival.”

And, he says:

The weather was a bit on the chilly side with a very strong breeze coming off the ocean, thus making the wind chill factor quite cold. My thoughts go to those brave Marines and Sailors that manned ships like the USS Constitution in much worse weather than what I experienced. Perhaps another way that we could honor these veterans who battled the elements is by contributing to the War of 1812 Preserve the Pension Project in our own battle to prevent the forces of nature destroying the precious pension applications entrusted to all of us at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

So… wanna come along with me and Michael on this journey?

There are two ways to contribute. First, you can join in with The Legal Genealogist and other blog readers by contributing through PayPal. Use your PayPal account to send a gift of cash, and the email account to send it to — and every penny will be accounted for and transferred regularly to Preserve the Pensions — is legalgenealogist (at) (Make sure you substitute the @ symbol for the word in the email address!) We’re going dollar for dollar for Michael’s 1812 miles — and if enough folks pitch it, maybe we’ll go two dollars for every mile — or more!

If you don’t use PayPal or you’d simply prefer, you can go directly to the Preserve the Pensions website and click on the red Donate Now button (or just click here to go directly to the donation form page). Enter all your information and then, under Honors and Tributes, click on the “As a tribute to a living person” radio button and enter “Michael J. Hall” in the box there.

Remember, every dollar we 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.

Let’s root for Michael, and bring this all the way home.

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