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June 18, 2012

War of 1812 Free Acess to USA & Canadian Records

The War of 1812. This is the War that both sides (Canada and America) claim they won [FN] . It started on June 18, 1812 when America declared war on Great Britain. 

If your ancestor fought in this War, you can take advantage of the free War of 1812 databases online 
War of 1812 American Records - Free Access via Fold3 during June 2012

Fold3 observes the War of 1812 bicentennial with rich and revealing historical documents within the War of 1812 Collection. They include the War of 1812 Prize Cases from New York's Southern District Court, Letters Received by the Adjutant General, and War of 1812 Service Records for Lake Erie and Mississippi, and the War of 1812 Pension Files. 

War of 1812 Canadian Records - Free Access via LAC (Library & Archives Canada)

LAC has digitised and published its War of 1812 holdings online. These include the following records:
 These records are not indexed. The best method for finding an ancestor is to consult the HELP file for each set of records. There you will find an itemized list of what is on each microfilm reel. This will help you narrow your search but be prepared to spend some time scrolling through the pages. 

I spent some time on the Claims for Losses microfilm on Sunday and can tell you that there are some names indexed starting at image 272 on microfilm t-1123.

You can also consult Olive Tree Genealogy War of 1812 section as there are some smaller databases online.  These include several Canadian Muster Rolls, Lists of widow's receiving Canadian pensions, property losses, prisoners of war and more.

[FN] How can both sides claim they won the War of 1812? Easy. In a nutshell: USA won the Battle of New Orleans, the last battle of the war. America claims a win based on this battle. But it was fought after peace was declared. Thus Britain (and Canada) claim the win overall. As well, America never realized its objective to "annex" Canada, therefore that would in military and political circles be considered a loss.

Still interested? Read what an American historian had to say at Canada Won the War of 1812  

Spoiler alert: The article begins with "In a relatively rare admission for an American scholar, a leading U.S. historian who authored a provocative new tome about North American military conflicts states bluntly that Canada won the War of 1812."

Of course I'm not objective. Being a Canadian I believe that we won the war. But whoever won, we all lost many soldiers and civilians in some horrific battles. It is easy to perceive a War as "romantic" when in reality war is a horrible event. But nonetheless it happened and as genealogists we are naturally curious to know if one of our ancestors was involved and to what extent. Hopefully some of the databases that are being offered online will assist us in that quest.

1 comment:

Thomas MacEntee said...

Great post on the War of 1812 and resources for genealogy! The Illinois State Genealogical Society is asking for help in digitizing 7.2 million War of 1812 Pension File images and making them free to the public. Here is how you can help: