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Last week to join in supporting 1812 miles

In case you hadn’t notice (koff koff), The Legal Genealogist loves the War of 1812 pension files.

They are rich in details of military service, chock full of original records evidencing births, marriages and deaths, and among the best genealogical treasures that our National Archives has to offer.

They are also among the most fragile genealogical treasures that our National Archives has to offer.

In part because of their age, in part because they are so often requested by researchers, the millions of pages of War of 1812 pension files are in grave danger — and in desperate need of permanent preservation.

Enter the Federation of Genealogical Societies and its “Preserve The Pensions” campaign.

This is a massive effort, trying to digitize all of the War of 1812 pension records held by the National Archives. It is time-consuming, it is exhausting — and it is expensive. The effort to get these 180,000-plus-or-minus files digitized carries an overall price tag that runs into the millions of dollars.

Right now, we’re just a little more than half-way there. That’s the hard part of any fundraising campaign. People are always enthusiastic at the start, when the idea takes off. And at the end, when the goal is in sight.

But here in the middle… well, it’s hard to keep things moving.

Enter Michael J. Hall.

Who had his own ideas about how to get some enthusiasm going.

Mike.SAMichael works at FamilySearch, has used these pension records, and is a big fan. He’s been working on fundraising from the start, handcrafting miniature War of 1812 figurines that he’s sold at conferences to help raise funds for the pensions. But he wanted to do something more. Something different.

So… he thought … what if he did something really different? What if he said he would run, bike or walk 1812 miles? Would anybody sponsor that?

Now you have to understand that my own personal view of exercise is that it’s when you walk from your air conditioned office to your air conditioned car to your air conditioned home.

But hey… if somebody else is going to exercise? I’m all in. And, with your help, we’re closing in on handing Michael a check for at least one dollar for every one of his 1812 miles.

And he’ll complete those miles next week.

When the Federation of Genealogical Societies joins the Central New York Genealogical Society and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in the second annual New York State Family History Conference in Syracuse on September 17-19, Michael will run right into the history books — having run, biked and swum more than 1812 miles around the world.

If you’ve already joined in this effort, thank you. Your name will be in the list that gets handed over with the check next week.

If you haven’t joined in yet, you certainly can still do it!

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 handed over 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 higher than that!

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 every dollar designated for sponsoring Michael will not only be matched by Ancestry but by FGS as well. That means every dollar becomes FOUR dollars.

We’re going to need all the dollars we can get to bring this project all the way home. So come on … help root for Michael, and bring this all the way home.


Mike Hall on a trail in South Africa

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