Scope and arrangement
The Army and Navy Claim Agency Archives comprise the records of the Army and Navy Claim Agency; the records of the Pension Agency, its predecessor organization; the registers and cash books of its subsidiary local agencies; and the records of two quasi-independent USSC claim agencies whose origins predate the establishment of the Army and Navy Claim Agency: the Protective War Claim Association of the State of New York, located in New York City, and the Protective War Claim and Pension Agency, located in Philadelphia.
With some variation, a claim agency’s records consist of correspondence with claimants (servicemen and the family members of deceased servicemen), federal and state government departments, military and medical officials, USSC staff and others, regarding claim applications and supporting evidence; registers used to formally record claimant applications submitted to the government, with subsequent actions taken; files containing documentation such as letters, form letter advisements, and supporting evidence (e.g., sworn statements as to military service, marriage certificates, etc.) for individual claim applications; and other claim documentation such as receipts from claimants for government certificates and checks for allowed claims.
Also present are administrative record books documenting expenses and claim work accomplished on a monthly basis for USSC reporting purposes; records of medical examinations as required for invalid pension applications; and official military documents such as discharge papers returned to the agencies by the government for forwarding to claimants, but which were undeliverable.
ANCA's creation and administration of a large network of local claim agencies are documented in letters and reports received from local agents, letters sent to them by ANCA, and legal agreements. The work of local agents in their communities is reflected in their claim registers and cash books.
The activities of USSC claim agencies in northern urban areas are well represented in the records of the Protective War Claim Association of the State of New York in New York City and the Protective War Claim and Pension Agency in Philadelphia, as seen in the minutes of their executive committees and their correspondence, providing additional materials for the study of USSC operations in one locale. Special relief activities conducted by the Philadelphia agency are documented in the records of their Bureau of Employment for Disabled and Discharged Soldiers and Sailors.
The United States Sanitary Commission records. Army and Navy Claim Agency archives are arranged in five series:
Scope and content note
The Army and Navy Claim Agency’s claim prosecution activities, office administration, and the work of its local agencies are documented in correspondence, claim registers, claim files, registers and receipts for remittances to claimants, and general office records, 1864-1870. ANCA’s incoming and outgoing correspondence with claimants, federal and state government departments, USSC staff, ANCA’s local agents and others concern the filing and status of claims, and to a lesser extent, administrative matters. Also present are letters sent and received at the Cashier’s Desk, and incomplete registers of ANCA’s letters received. Claim registers provide a comprehensive record of claim applications submitted by ANCA or by ANCA on behalf of it local agents; these include registers of new applications beginning in the fall of 1865 for types of claims previously handled by the USSC’s Special Relief Department. Local agents’ own record books are found in Series III. Local agent registers and cash books. Claim files comprise the bulk of the series, documenting over 30,000 individual applications for claims against the government, filed by ANCA on behalf of servicemen or the relatives of deceased servicemen. Files typically consist of the original file jacket noting the name of the serviceman and, if deceased, related claimant, noting actions taken, and any correspondence or evidentiary documents contained within. Remittance records consist of registers, receipt files and partial name index volumes, documenting ANCA’s receipt and forwarding of government funds and other items to claimants or their agents. Receipt files consist of signed forms or letters from claimants or agents acknowledging same.
General Office records document ANCA’s tracking of the number and type of claims filed on a regular basis, and cash value of claims allowed, as well as the administration of its local agencies, represented by legal agreements, records of their monthly transactions, and indexes listing agencies by place and name. Also present are a list of Confederate ships captured as prizes by the U.S. Navy, a record of office mailings, sample ANCA forms, and miscellaneous items.
The records of the Pension Agency reflect the daily work of claims prosecution conducted by Agency staff from its establishment by the USSC’s Special Relief Department in February 1863 to its integration into ANCA in July 1865 (where it was sometimes referred to as the Pension Division). Office staff prosecuted invalid pension claims for disabled soldiers (and a much smaller number of sailors) and, to a lesser extent, applications for pensions for widows, minor children, and other dependent relatives; as well as other types of claims.
Records consist of registers recording applications and actions taken in prosecuting individual claims; a register of medical examinations of applicants for invalid pensions, as required by the Pension Office; daily journals recording claim work and other office activities; registers of letters sent by the Pension Agency to claimants, federal government departments, and others; officers’ certificates solicited as evidence in support of soldiers’ claims; and certificate receipts. Incoming correspondence and letters acknowledging receipt of certificates cover an extended period from 1863 into 1866. Many are addressed to pension agent Milton P. Barry, who, having relinquished his role as ANCA local claim agent for Washington, D.C. at the end of 1865, continued working on pension and other claims at ANCA until his departure for work with the Protective War Claim Association of the State of New York. Letterpress copies of outgoing correspondence of the Pension Agency are not found in the collection.
ANCA’s local agents served as liaisons between the central office in Washington, DC, and claimants in over 100 towns and cities in 23 states and the District of Columbia. They took claim applications from soldiers, sailors, and their family members in their regions, forwarded the necessary paperwork to ANCA, and maintained communication with claimants and others assisting with the prosecution of individual cases. Most local offices were established during the summer of 1865, but some started as early as 1862. Early offices, such as the Philadelphia’s Protective War Claim and Pension Agency or the Protective War Claim Association of the State of New York, were generally either founded by local USSC affiliates or established independently, coming under the aegis of the USSC as the war progressed. Some claim work initially conducted by USSC relief agents was continued on a local agent basis. Most local agencies closed in the fall of 1865, after ANCA General Agent W.F. Bascom announced that ANCA would cease accepting new claim applications on December 31, 1865. Some had closed earlier, while others worked to close pending applications into early 1866. Local agents turned their records over to ANCA upon closure of their offices.
Records consist of registers and cash books maintained by local agents as a record of their claims prosecution and operating expenses, as mandated by ANCA. Registers typically identify the name, rank, and regiment or ship information for the soldier or sailor making the claim, or upon whose service the claim was based; name and relationship of the individual family member making application; address; date and circumstances of discharge, disability, or death; claim type; application date; evidence required and when it was received or sent; dates of communication with ANCA; whether a claim was settled, rejected, or required further action; and any claim settlement in dollar amounts. The amount of information recorded varies. Entries in registers (most of which were supplied by ANCA) are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the soldier or sailor surname and chronologically within each section; exceptions are noted at the item level. Expenses incurred in the prosecution of claims, such as magistrate’s fees, postage, and rent, were recorded either in the registers or in separate cash books. Local agents’ correspondence with ANCA, monthly reports to ANCA, and employment agreements with ANCA are found in that sub-group.
Further information about local agents, with a regional listing, can be found in John S. Blatchford’s “Statement concerning the Army and Navy Claim Agency of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, From September 1, 1864, to October 1, 1866.” [Washington: The Commission, 1866].
Scope and content note
Records of the Protective War Claim Association of the State of New York (PWCA), 1861-1867, document the services it provided to soldiers, sailors and their families living in New York, especially the New York City area, as an independent claim agency and later as a USSC affiliate, under the direction of prominent New York City businessmen and philanthropists. Services are primarily the filing and prosecuting of service-related claims with the government on behalf of the public, free of charge, and its operation of a bureau of employment for disabled and discharged servicemen. The Association also responded to requests for information and other assistance.
Records consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence with claimants, federal and other government departments and agencies regarding claims, and with the U.S. Sanitary Commission concerning claims and administrative matters; also, correspondence kept by its agent George B. Randlette at the Army and Navy Claim Agency (ANCA), and the claim correspondence of employee E.P. Brook dating from a previous government position. The bulk of the records comprise claim registers, over 2,000 files documenting individual applications; and documentation supporting the processing of claim applications, such as affidavits, interoffice briefs, receipts and vouchers, office claim reports, and an address book for officers of New York State regiments.
Also present are records documenting the work of the Association’s Bureau of Employment for Disabled and Discharged Soldiers and Sailors. these consist of correspondence with soldiers, sailors, businessmen and others; registers listing unemployed men, most disabled, and businessmen offering employment; and documents relating to its Soldier Messenger Corps. These materials provide great insight into the condition, situation and skills of individual discharged soldiers and sailors hoping for employment, and the efforts of others to provide means of support for them. A small amount of Executive Board records, including minutes, shed light on the operations of the Association, particularly the Bureau of Employment.
Additional claim files created by the Protective War Claim Association and handled by the Army and Navy Claim Agency can be found in the claim files of that sub-group. Those files generally follow the related ANCA file for the same soldier or sailor.
The Association’s financial records are located in the Accounts and Vouchers record group.
Scope and content note
Records of the Protective War Claim and Pension Agency (PWCPA) consist of correspondence; the Agency’s minutes; and claim documentation. Materials provide insight into the workings of a local claim agency, and the condition and needs of soldiers, sailors and their families living in the Philadelphia area.
Correspondence consists of letters received and letters sent regarding claim prosecution and to a lesser extent office administrative matters, as well as various correspondence registers.
Letters received comprise two series of letters predominantly from claimants, arranged successively in alphabetical order (circa 1863 Nov-1864 Oct) and then numerical order (1864 Oct-1867 Apr), including registers of the numbered items. Also present are letters from federal and state government departments, and letters from the United States Sanitary Commission's Special Relief Department and the Army and Navy Claim Agency concerning claimants and administrative matters. Letters received also contain miscellaneous documents, including correspondence; sample forms and printed matter.
Letters in the alphabetical and numerical series are written mostly by soldiers and other claimants, but letters and other documents from military officers, physicians, hospital officials, government officials, clergy, USSC personnel, and others are also found. Writers are generally asking for information about a claim application, acknowledging receipt of payment or returned papers, or providing evidence or other information regarding an application. Letters also include signed and returned receipt forms for discharge certificates or payment certificates for claims allowed, and letters written by office staff to military and government officials and sometimes claimants, returned by the respondent with notations. The majority of items in the alphabetical series are letters from claimants, which often include accounts of their financial, family, and/or military circumstances.
Letters in alphabetical arrangement are filed by claimant surname. In cases where multiple claimants are discussed (in government and USSC correspondence), letters are filed by the surname of the first claimant listed. As in the alphabetical and numerical series, letters received from government departments and USSC staff also include letters or forms sent by the Agency, which were returned with notations concerning the claimant or matter discussed. General correspondence is arranged chronologically by date written.
Letters sent comprise thirteen letterpress copybooks kept by William N. Ashman, clerks writing on his behalf, and James W. Hazlehurst. Their correspondents include soldiers and other claimants, military officers, government officials, USSC personnel and others. Also present are correspondence registers of letters sent.
Explanations of the types of claim handled by particular government departments and the nature of their correspondence are found in the Army and Navy Claim Agency correspondence series. Any exceptions to standard form or content in Agency correspondence, as well as any necessary arrangement statements, are noted in the container list.
Claim documentation consists of the first volume only of a series of eleven volumes of claim application registers; a record of medical examinations of applicants for invalid pensions; and receipt books for certificates or payments of claims allowed.
The Agency maintained claim registers as a formal record of claim transactions but, unlike ANCA or the Protective War Claim Association of the State of New York, it did not maintain separate claim files, preferring instead to record its correspondence in registers, noting claim actions taken on envelopes in which the correspondence was enclosed. According to a USSC volume listing all USSC claims unsettled as of April 1, 1867 (Unsettled claims, 1867, New York, N.Y. Archives record group, series IV.A Office, box 79, volume 5), the Agency’s claim applications numbered over 11,000. Those numbers are sometimes found on the top of envelopes and on documents concerning claim settlements.