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Guide to researching Southern Claims Commission records

The filmed Southern Claims Commission files for the approved claims for Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia, and for the barred and disallowed claims for the twelve states from which claims originated, are part of the Julius K. Hunter & Friends African American Research Collection in the History and Genealogy Department of St. Louis County Library (SLCL).

This guide can be downloaded as a single PDF (214 kb).


Between 3 March 1871 and 3 March 1873, Southerners filed 22,298 claims before the Southern Claims Commission (SCC) based on the fact they

  • were loyal to the Union during the Civil War  
  • had quartermaster stores or supplies taken by or furnished to the Union Army during the rebellion (Later, materials supplied to or taken by the U.S. Navy were also included.)

Southern Loyalists made 22,298 claims for property losses totaling $60,258,150.44. However, only 7,092 claims (32%) were approved for settlements totaling $4,636,920.69. Claimants had to prove their loyalty and loss through the testimony of others. The paper trail created by the claimants and the people who came forward to testify, for or against, included relatives, neighbors, friends, former slaves, and free people of color. Their testimony provides a wealth of information about individuals living in the South during the Civil War.

States Affected

Claims were made to the Southern Claims Commission based on losses in the twelve states in rebellion at the beginning of the Civil War. Those states were:  

States affected by Southern Claims Commission claims

North Carolina 
South Carolina 
West Virginia (was part of Virginia when it seceded from the Union) 

Mention in this guide is made to Ancestry and Fold3 subscription databases in relation to Southern Claims Commission indexes and document images they make available. Ancestry refers to either (for individuals) or Ancestry Library Edition (for institutions), and Fold3 refers to Ancestry Library Edition and Fold3 can be used for free in the History and Genealogy Department and at any St. Louis County Library branch. Fold3 is also available remotely with a valid St. Louis County Library card (some restrictions apply).