I have copies from fourteen Civil War pension application files. They are a great source of information that may be found no where else. See One Widow's Plight and Why Everyone Should Use Pension Application Files to see examples of what you might find. Now that I am trying to do a better job of citing my sources in my genealogy program I have worked through the easy records for my direct ancestors (i.e. census and vital records, etc.), but there are a lot of things in the pension files that I really need to cite. But there begins the problem. I could cite the entire file, for example:
Lawrence H. Flynn (Cpl., Co. M, 1st MI. Eng. and Mech., Civil War), application no. 279,062, certificate no. 382,696, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications. . ., 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
It certainly indicates that it comes from the pension file, but if I wanted to look up the specific page where I found the information it would be useless. However, wading through often lengthy (60-100+ pages) files looking for one piece of information is time-consuming. While I might come across something else of interest during the hour or more it might take me to find what I was originally looking for, knowing that I couldn't quickly find what I needed might put me off from doing it at all. Besides, other things demand my time, like my daughter, so if I have to choose between reading to her or perusing the concerns of the dead, I know what I'll choose.
One solution is to preface the main citation with something more specific, such as:
Deposition of H.B. Osborn, filed 11 Oct 1912, Lawrence H. Flynn (Cpl., Co. M, 1st MI. Eng. and Mech., Civil War), application no. 279,062, certificate no. 382,696, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications. . ., 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
That would certainly narrow it down, but I would still have to sort through all the papers to find the one I want. I am coming to the conclusion that what I really need to do is just number each page, even if it is only for me, so that I can find what I need in a timely manner. I have already completed the first step, namely to organize the documents chronologically. I didn't do that when I originally received them because I thought perhaps there was a reason the documents were in that order. Eventually, I disabused myself of that notion. It is definitely much easier to see what is going on with everything ordered by date, but with so many pages finding a single one still takes time.
I know my numbering system won't aid anyone who isn't browsing my family tree program, but it will certainly help me. I will be able to quickly double check specific items and move on to something else without out wasting precious time. For me, it will mean that when I cite my pension sources they will mean something.