Tom Kemp, Director of Genealogy Products

Genealogist Q&A

Whether you're a seasoned genealogy pro or just getting started, our Q&A answers the most commonly-asked family history research questions.

Have a question about or hit a brick wall in your family history research? Tom Kemp, Director of Genealogy Products, internationally known librarian, archivist and published author with over 50 years of genealogy experience, provides expert answers to the most commonly-asked genealogy questions in our informative Genealogist Q&A and our complimentary guide "Getting Started Climbing Your Family Tree."

To begin, click on the genealogy question links below to view the answers. Also, download our free Search Tips Guide.

My grandfather had a WWI pension - he wasn't wounded - why did he have a pension?

Q: I have my grandfather's World War I payroll records and his discharge. However, I know that he collected a veterans' pension until his death in1973, and then my grandmother received a widow's pension until she died in 1976. Since his discharge clearly states that he was not wounded in the war, I would like to see his pension records to determine on what basis he collected a pension. Since he served 1918-1919, those records are not available through NARA. How can I access them?

A: Pension benefits for World War I veterans evolved over the years. Basically the rule of thumb for a pension was having served for 90 days. See: Veteran's Administration guidelines.

The National Archives has set up a special site for requesting these records. The son or daughter of a WWI veteran should use that site to request his records.

As the granddaughter, you may access the records of retired veterans from World War I to the present at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO.

You need to use Standard Form SF-180 Military Records Request Form to request those records. Click on the link to get a copy of that form. Simply complete the form and submit it to the appropriate mailing address listed on the form.

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