List of Claims Made Against the U.S. Government

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This article originally appeared in "Court Records" by Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, FUGA, Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA, and Arlene H. Eakle, Ph.D. in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy

This article is a summary of the types of claims made against the United States government from 1774 through World War II with the agency responsible to deal with them, the record group number, and a brief description of the contents and/or location.

Table of Claim Date Name Index NARA Record Group Comments/Description
Claims Barred By Statute of Limitations, Adjusted and Allowed 1810 See comments Printed in American State Papers. Use Phillip W. McMullin, Grassroots of America (Provo, Utah: Gendata, 1972) for some claims as volume indexes are unreliable. Online index and text for American State Papers at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/hlawquery.html.
Claims of Persons, Circumstances Barred by Limitations 1792 Yes 1,500 revolutionary war soldiers pensioned under an act of 27 March 1792. See Mary G. Ainsworth, "Recently Discovered Records Relating to Revolutionary War Veterans Who Applied for Pensions Under the Act of 1792," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 46 (1958): 8-13, 73-78
Private Claims Submitted to Congress 1774 to present 360;233 (House) 46 (Senate) Published as Congressional Documents. Arranged alphabetically to form an easily accessible index, 1789-1891 (House), 1815-1909 (Senate). Fully searchable text online at <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/hlawquery.html>.


This site also allows searches by Congressional Session for both House and Senate. Visit the National Archives and Records Administration and use the [www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records Federal Records Guide].

Quartermaster Claims 1839-94 NARA M-film M1999: Index to Quartermaster Claims. 1 roll. 92 Four manuscript vols., claims relating to services, supplies, or transportation furnished to or requisitioned for the army. Supporting documents may have been destroyed. Includes Mexican War claims, 1847-58, and civilian claims (mostly Mexican War teamsters), 1848-60
Fourth of July Claims 1861-70 Volume indexes 92 Sixty-eight vols. (manuscripts with supporting case files); include rejected claims. Volumes arranged by auditors'numbers, related papers filed by register numbers. 29 vols. (manuscripts with supporting case files); arranged by year. Rejected claims arranged by box numbers. Incomplete 2-vol. register to rejected claims. Must prove loyal citizen of loyal state. Valuable, covers country. 36 vols. (manuscripts with supporting correspondence and case files)
1871-90 Partial indexes only
Civil War Claims 1861-94 Some volume indexes 92 Transportation, personal services for persons later deceased, horses and mules, extra duty, bounty arrears, property damage, rents, and other matters. Indexes, where they exist, are incomplete.
Transportation Claims 1871-87 Some volume indexes 92 131 registers, including ocean and lake vessels, railroad accounts connected with military operations, ferries
Confederate Horse Claims 1901-14 No 92 Claims for paroled Confederate soldiers whose arms and horses were seized by Union soldiers in violation of the terms of surrender. Files arranged by members from general correspondence of the quartermaster general, 1890-1914
Alabama Claims 1872 Yes 76 List of documents and correspondence in the cases of U.S. and Great Britain indexing the claims for losses to Confederate ships Alabama, Shenandoah, Florida, Tallahassee. Description of cases in Revised List of Claims . . . Known as the Alabama Claims Preliminary Inventory 135, Records Relating to Civil War Claims, United States and Great Britain.
Southern Claims Commission 1871-80 Yes 217 Approved claims
233 Disallowed claims filed with records of House of Representatives. Gary B. Mills, comp., Southern Loyalists in the Civil War: A Composite Directory of Case Files Created by the U.. Commissioners of Claims, 1871-1880, Including Those Appealed to the War Claims Committee...(Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004). 22,298 claims were submitted by Southerners who swore they were loyal to the Union; 7,092 were allowed. Includes interrogatories (detailed questionnaires) filled out by all applicants A search path for locating granted and disbarred claims is at <www.slcl.org/branches/hq/sc/scc/steps.htm>. The Tennessee State Library index identifies 3, 929 Tennesseans who submitted claims; see http://www.state.in.us/sos/statelib/pubsvs/sccintro www.state.in.us/sos/statelib/pubsvs/sccintro
laims of Citizens of Kansas 1858-61 online index to Strickler at http://www.territorialkansasonline.org Report of General H.J. Strickler, Commissioner for Auditing Claims for Kansas Territory 35th Cong., 2nd Sess., H. Misc. Doc. 43, serial 1017 (1858-59); 36th Cong., 2nd Sess., H. Reports 104, serial 1106. Indexes are incomplete. Claims awarded for property damage by marauding raiders, e.g., Quantrell
Hearings, Committee on War Claims 1910-14 Volume indexes 63rd Cong., 2nd Sess., H. Reports 124. Many available on microfiche
Claims Commissions, United States and Mexico 1839-1938 Yes 76 Include cases of seizure of property, quartering of troops, illegal arrest and maltreatment of prisoners, boundary claims, prize cases submitted by local residents. Several thousand claims were accepted. See Preliminary Inventory 136: Records of United States and Mexican Claims Commission
War Relocation Authority (Japanese Americans) 1941-46 Japanese American Internee Data File and Index at http://aad.archives.gov/aad/display-partial-records.jsp? 210 9,000 Japanese-Americans moved out of military zones in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Arkansas, and Hawaii voluntarily. More than 100,000 were forced to evacuate by the War Relocation Authority. See Preliminary Inventory 77: Records of the War Relocation Authority
World War II Exclusion Files 1941-48 153 Relocation of German and Italian aliens, U.S. citizens of German and Italian heritage in military zones. Alphabetically arranged by surname
More detail on these claims records and their locations and finding aids are in Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka. Genealogical Research in the National Archives (NARA, 2000), pp 307–14. For information on the record groups listed, see Robert B. Matchette, et al., Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States (NARA, 1995); regularly updated web version online.
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