In 1871 the U.S. government created the Southern Claims Commission, an organization via which Southerners could file claims for reimbursement of personal property losses experienced during the Civil War. Claims could be filed by residents of these states:
West Virginia (part of Virginia until 1863)
The main qualifications for receiving a reimbursement were:
Proof that claimant suffered property losses during the war;
Proof that claimant supported the Union cause during the war;
No evidence that claimant provided support of any kind to the Confederate cause.
More than 22,000 claims were filed by the 1880 deadline by individuals, businesses, institutions, churches, and other organizations. Claimants and their witnesses had to answer 80+ questions that can provide information about family members, slaves, livestock, real estate and real property, and business holdings. Questionnaires can help answer questions about family life and hardships endured during the Civil War.
This record collection in Ancestry Library Edition (Ancestry LE) contains a complete index for all claims filed with the Southern Claims Commission, whether approved or otherwise. Information from the index is necessary to locate an actual case file, so be sure to record claim status and any associated numbers.
Claim Status (A = approved, D = disallowed, or B = barred)
Approved = received some money from the government
Disallowed = claim denied, no money received
Barred = failed to submit sufficient evidence by Commission deadline
Commission number (all claims have this)
Office number (only disallowed claims have this)
Report number (disallowed and allowed claims have this--barred claims don’t)
Year claim was filed
You can view actual case files in these separate Ancestry LE record collections:
U.S. Southern Claims Commission, Allowed Claims, 1871-1880
U.S. Southern Claims Commission, Disallowed and Barred Claims, 1871-1880
You can use Ancestry LE at Central Library or any of our branches.