Published Decisions of the Bureau of Pension Appeals
1886 - 1930
Decisions of the Department of the Interior in Appealed Pension and Bounty-Land Claims
    People could appeal the Pension Bureau’s decisions to drop them from the pension rolls, ask for an increase in their pension, request the Bureau reconsider its denial of a pension claim, or file a claim against a spouse for all or part of a pension.  The resulting process could be complex.  To make its work more transparent and easier to understand, the Pension Bureau published its decisions in thousands of cases between 1886 and 1930; the resulting government publication consists of twenty-two volumes. 
    The information in these published decisions can be rich.  There can be facts about the veteran’s service, names of family members, and vital statistics.  Claims by widows or other dependents could be confirmed or denied.  There are many decisions pertaining to pension appeal attorneys.  These cases can include facts about how a case was handled, specific dates, and reveal the process your ancestor had to endure to get a pension.  Decisions generally include references to specific federal and state laws the Bureau used in making its decision; portions of the laws appear in the decision.
    You can search this index by a pensioner’s name.  The index includes the name of the primary subject, and the name of a deceased husband, a dependent family member, etc.  It also provides the volume in which the decision is printed and the number of the page on which you can find the decision.  There is a notes field providing additional information.  Once you find the reference in the index you will need to consult the volumes to obtain the report.
    The Interior Department published all twenty-two volumes through the Government Printing Office.  They are available at many government depository libraries throughout the United States.  You can find your nearest depository library on the GPO’s website ( 
    To find the volumes you will need the publication’s title, Decisions of the Department of the Interior in Appealed Pension and Bounty-Land Claims, 1886-1930, and the number of the volume you want to examine.  You will also need the Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc) number.  Each government publication has a file number; in this case the SuDoc number is I24.8 followed by the number of the volume.  The index includes the SuDoc number for each searchable record to facilitate your research.
    For additional information see: Kenneth W. Heger. “Making Its Decisions Public: Published Decisions of the Bureau of Pension Appeals, 1886-1930.” Maryland Genealogical Society Journal August 2012 (Vol. 53, No. 2): 251-262
© 2016 Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society Last modified 5/2016 rcg