Index to Mothers’ Pension Records
Mothers' Pension recipients
Photo Credit: Idaho State Archives
A Closer Look
In 1913, the State of Idaho approved a program to provide a small monthly payment to mothers and orphans under certain circumstances. The program was handled by the probate court in each Idaho county and payments were made only to women whose husbands were dead, in jail or serving a sentence at the Idaho State Penitentiary, or confined to the state insane asylum or state home for the feeble-minded. In the case of children who were orphaned, payment was made to their guardian (often a grandmother or adult sister). The women had to prove they were in need of such support and received payment only for children under the age of fifteen.
The mothers' and orphans' pension records are a rich source of genealogical and historical information. Several types of records are available - applications and court orders for payment. The applications generally contain the following information: names of father and mother, names and ages (sometimes birth dates) of children, status of father (including cause of death, where appropriate), qualifications of the applicant, character references, and the dollar amount requested. In some cases, the applications include names of children over fifteen who did not qualify for payment and names of other family members who might also be able to provide partial support for the distressed family. The court orders for payment contain less information but generally include names of mother and eligible children and the amount of payment.
The information in the index was extracted from original records in the Idaho State Archives collection and includes material transferred from Ada, Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Blaine, Caribou, Clearwater, Minidoka, Oneida, Power, Teton and Twin Falls counties. In addition, the index includes information compiled from Nez Perce County records on microfilm. The majority of these records date to the 1920s.
Additional information about mothers' and orphans' pensions may be available as part of the County Microfilm series held by the State Archives.
View List of records:
Mothers' Pension Records