The National Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah recently announced an agreement to digitize and index the National Archives' collection of 1.28 million pension files for Union veterans of the Civil War and their widows. The partnership will begin with a pilot project, whereby the first 3,000+ of the pension files will be digitized and indexed.
These pension files are currently only available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.; when completed, the digital files and index will be made available at all National Archives branches. The National Archives will also have the option of designating a third party to host the files online, such as FamilySearch.org or a subscription-based website.
The pension files contain a treasure trove of information for genealogists because the claimant had to include supporting documents with their application. These supporting documents can include birth, marriage and death records.
Currently, the only other way to see the pension files (besides in person in Washington, D.C.) is to request a photocopy of the file. In October, the National Archives raised the fee they charge for copying these pension files to $75 for the first 100 pages.
The full press release of the partnership agreement is available at http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2008/nr08-16.html