National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers

November 11 is Veterans Day. Visit the National Archives website to learn more about our resources and events related to the holiday. Today’s post comes from Shannon O’Malley, a Digitization and Metadata Intern at the National Archives at Philadelphia. 

President Abraham Lincoln signed the bipartisan bill establishing the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in March 1865. This home’s function was to house and care for volunteer soldiers who had sustained injuries as a result of their military service. Although similar institutions had existed since the early 19th century, these homes had stricter requirements for admission, including proof of a certain minimum number of years in the Armed Forces.

The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, as its supporters insisted, was not merely a charity or hospital but a means of thanking and repaying those who had risked their lives for their country and whose families did not have the means to provide the support they required and deserved. 

The National Archives at Philadelphia holds sampled Case Files of Members and Case Files of Members Temporarily Housed at this institution’s Southern Branch, in Hampton, Virginia. Some of the records in these series detail the military, medical, and personal history of members at the home. Within the series’ files exists a wealth of information about men serving in every American war up until World War II. 

One interesting case file found is that of Patrick Sliney, who served in Company C, 1st DC Volunteers, and was discharged from service on March 6, 1866.

Discharge papers for Patrick Sliney, March 6, 1866. (National Archives Identifier 146901208)

These sampled case files are diverse, holding not just discharge and intake paperwork but also fingerprint sheets, marriage certificates, naturalization records, personal letters, medical records, and death certificates. 

I began work on digitizing this series this past summer and will finish by the end of the year. Even though the records are not yet digitized in their entirety, all of the files have been described and are name searchable in the catalog. It is important to note that both of these series consist of sampled case files, and that not every case file of every member at the Southern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers is present in our holdings.

If you don’t find the person for whom you are looking, we recommend visiting the our military service website to learn more about military personnel records available through the National Archives.

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