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A Special Message for Society Leadership

D. Joshua Taylor, Genealogy Roadshow, PBS, family history, Josh Taylor, FGS, President, War of 1812,

FGS President, D. Joshua Taylor

We are happy to share this very special message to genealogical and historical society presidents around the country, from FGS President, D. Joshua Taylor.




Dear Fellow Presidents,

What exciting times to be involved in a genealogical and historical organization! Thank you for volunteering your time, energy, and passion to your local society. As we each continue to reach out to those interested in family history, we have unique opportunities available to us as leaders. One such opportunity comes with the advancement of technology and the increased access to historical documents and collections – access on levels never before seen.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) effort to Preserve the Pensions continues to be at the forefront of that movement. When completed, the Preserve the Pensions will provide free access to more than 7.2 million pages for the War of 1812 records; a crucial historical collection for researcher’s throughout academia.

In February 2015, FGS announced that, with the help of the entire community and our friends at Ancestry.com, Preserve the Pensions had reached the half-way point. More than $1.6 million has been raised and millions of images are already accessible for free at Fold3.com.

In January of 2016, we were again thrilled to announce that we accomplished the $2 million mark! An incredible milestone.

But, our work is not yet done…

Therefore, I am announcing the Preserve the Pensions Leadership Challenge to fellow presidents among the genealogical community.

Now is the time to get involved.

  • Join me in giving a donation to the project, through a monthly recurring donation of $18.12 for the next twelve months.

You are also invited to join the challenge with a one-time donation of any amount.
Donations can be made online!

  • Invite members of your board and committees to join you in the challenge through a monthly or one-time donation to the project.
  • Create a society matching campaign to mobilize your membership for this terrific cause. FGS is happy to assist in setting up a society matching program, and will currently match all donations dollar for dollar. Contact 1812@fgs.org for further details.

If each leader of an FGS member organization donates $18.12 per month for the next year, we would contribute nearly $110,000 to the project. But that is just the beginning of our collective contribution! When matched by Ancestry.com, the total would be nearly $220,000 and bring more than 485,000 pages online!

There has never been a better time to become involved in this important project. Your participation in the Preserve the Pensions Leadership Challenge is deeply appreciated.

Best wishes,




Watch Josh’s video – a message to all societies – about how groups like yours can contribute to this incredible effort. Please feel free to share this with your organization or your friends – and view even more on our YouTube channel.


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War of 1812 Veterans Meet Modern Day Active Duty Soldiers

David Rencher, Ed Donakey, and Rick and Pam Sayre staffed a Preserve the Pensions booth at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Institute of Land Warfare Global Force Symposium and Exposition in the Von Braun Conference Center in Huntsville, Alabama, 15-17 March.

Huntsville is home to several major Army activities—the U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, U.S. Army Contracting Command, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Marshall Space Center, and supporting activities. On display were a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, numerous tactical equipment displays, new weapons, and many other life-size versions of Tonka toys for soldiers. Plenty of generals, from one-star to four, wandered the exhibit hall with purpose. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Rick Sayre renewed old acquaintances and made new ones as he explained the purpose of our booth. We were, as the manager of exhibits and sponsorships for the show said, “Probably the most unique booth here, with no weapons” or Army support services to sell.

So, why were we there? We introduced our War of 1812 soldiers to their counterparts of 204 years later. We explained the importance of honoring past soldiers by raising funds to preserve and digitize the records of their service and soldiers’ or widows’ pensions. Everyone from generals to high school ROTC students politely listened and learned, and most reached into their pockets to contribute. Several came back the second or third days of the exposition to report they had looked at our website overnight. Others said they would help because their spouses or their parents are genealogists and would expect them to donate.

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Our patriotic booth at the AUSA Global Force Symposium.

These historical documents illicit an emotional response – from all of us. 

One attendee offhandedly remarked that she had no American military ancestors because her grandparents had come over from maybe Hungary, but she knew absolutely nothing about them. In a slow moment at the booth, Pam asked her mother’s name, a rather unusual one, and quickly did a search of the 1940 census online at Ancestry. We gave her the names of her grandparents, their places of birth in Romania, and their address in 1940 Chicago. At first she was skeptical that it was the right family. When told that the man had been a gardener, she paused, then said, “That’s right. That IS them. My mother said her father was a gardener and he brought flowers home when they needed food.” With tears in her eyes, she walked away.

She came back the next day, though, and wanted to know more, mistakenly believing we had found her 1940 family on the Fold3 website with the 1812 pensions. We sat patiently then, and helped her meet her family online at Ancestry.com. She told everyone she worked with to come by and donate to Preserve the Pensions.

We weren’t able to help anyone find a War of 1812 ancestor, because it requires working back in time from yourself, and most people didn’t have the requisite knowledge of their own family tree to do so. But almost everyone who stopped by the booth was thoroughly touched and impressed with this project.

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Two civilian employees of the Army went home to check out the Preserve the Pensions site.


We took in $1,310. Matched by FGS, that became $2,620, and doubled again by Ancestry, the grand total was $5,240. We’d say the soldiers of 2016 really “get” what we’re doing for the soldiers of 1812. And they truly “get” Preserve the Pensions. Our thanks to the AUSA community.

Report submitted by Pam Sayre.


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Fundraising in March

We’re looking forward to an incredibly successful 2016 for the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions fundraising campaign, and we wanted to share with you where those donations are coming from!

We have two maps to share – the first represents those states from which we received individual contributions. The second will show states from which we received donations through a society program or match campaign.


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Contributions from individual donors, March 2016.

Way to go California! 23 total donations from the state!


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Contributions from Societies, March, 2016.


Take a moment to compare to previous months – you can see we had a significant increase in donations from across the country. Want to see the maps side-by-side? Check out our image gallery on Facebook.

Don’t see your state represented? Don’t wait – set up your automatic monthly donation today, and help us digitally preserve the War of 1812 pension files forever – and make them freely available to all! Can we obtain a donation from every state in the Union by year’s end? We would love to see a rainbow of color across the nation!

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Endless Opportunties… to Learn!

The War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions team have all been quite busy, and we’re excited to share with everyone what we’ve been working on. Each and every one of these projects was designed to assist you in finding your War of 1812 ancestor, so you may want to set aside some research time!

  • We are proud to announce that Ancestors, Family, and Associates in the War of 1812 Records is now available on Ancestry Academy – and it’s FREE to watch FOREVER. We appreciate Ancestry’s continued support of the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions project. This recording featured David Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS, and reviews a brief history of the war, the records created by the conflict, and potential opportunities for researchers. You do need a free Ancestry Academy account to watch the video.
  • Also new and now available is the War of 1812 Research Genealogy At A Glance research guide; available through Family Roots Publishing Company. This laminated guide will assist you in identifying records affiliated with the War, and their location and contents. The guide is available for $8.06.
  • For those interested in a bit more, Family Roots Publishing Company is offering a bundle package to celebrate the release of our new Genealogy At A Glance guide! Available until March 28 only, you can get both the laminated guide and a copy of Tracing Your War of 1812 Ancestors, compiled by David A. Norris (2012), and save 20%. Get the details here.
  • Don’t forget! Our popular webinar, presented by Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, is available for free as well from Legacy Family Tree Webinars. This presentation, “The War of 1812 Records – Preserving the Pensions” is a great place to learn specifics on the pension files and more.


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What will you find in the pension files from the War of 1812?


We hope you are able to take advantage of all of these offerings. To contribute to this effort and to ensure that we are able to digitize each and every page of the War of 1812 pension files, please make a donation today; every dollar is important! Together, we will protect these vital historical documents forever.


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