In 1871 the U.S. government created the Southern Claims Commission, an organization through which southerners could file claims for reimbursement of personal property losses due to the Civil War. Claims could only be filed by residents of:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
The main stipulations for qualifying to receive a reimbursement were that: the claimant had to prove loss of property, that he had supported the Union during the war and that he not provided any assistance to the Confederates. Nearly 22,300 cases were filed by individuals and families, as well as businesses, institutions, churches, and other organizations. Not only do the names and locations of the claimants provide background information about the Civil War, but each claimant was required to provide witnesses. The witnesses had to answer the same 80+ questions that the claimant had to answer. Many of these witnesses were former slaves whose names rarely appear on any other legal document from the Civil War era. They also provided names and dates for family members who often lived on other plantations.
This database contains an index to all claims Disallowed & Barred Claims, filed with the Southern Claims Commission. Information available in the claim files can vary from packet to packet, but many of the files are very rich in genealogical information.
For more information and historical background on the Southern Claims Commission, please refer to the Introduction of the Index book.
How to Search These Records:
The best way to search these records is to begin by searching the Southern Claims Commission Index database. If you have not already done so, please go there first, carefully reading through the description, before continuing on with the following steps.
If you located a name in the index with the status "D" or "B" that means that it was either disallowed or barred, and you are in the correct database to find the claim file.
- Indicate the fact that you are seeking an approved Southern Claims Commission claim
- Full name of the claimant
- Commission claim number, office number, and record number (if included)
- State and county in which claim was made
- Be sure to include your complete mailing address for their reply
- The availability of the original documents for the claim
- A price quote for a photocopy of the documents
1. All of the disallowed or barred claims were filmed and are in this database except those which were appealed. Simply type the name of the claimant into the search template above to locate the claim. You may copy or save any or all of the pages of the claim for your own files.
2. A barred claim file from an appealed case can contain a great deal of information. An indication that a barred claim was appealed might be a single document following the claimant's file folder that says "Cong. No xxx" and/or possibly a notation such as "Rec'd sundry papers in above case" and signed by someone from the Court of Claims. "House of Representatives" may also appear as part of that notation. Write down exactly what is written so you can request it from the National Archives. (Keep in mind that not all claim files have survived).
To submit a question regarding the appealed claim online, go to the NARA website: www.archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html. You will want to click on the "I have a question" link, and then click on "I have a question about research and records at NARA". Send your inquiry to the Old Military & Civilian Records Unit.
Or you can contact them via mail:
- Old Military & Civilian Records Unit (Archives I)
National Archives & Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408
Include the following information when requesting information - either by mail or via the internet:
NOTE: Appealed cases are sometimes found under the name of the heir who appealed the case. Also, since they are an accumulation of papers, the files can be quite large, and it may be expensive to copy the file.