What's New in Genealogy ... Today!
click to view original photo

Military Records: 1900s including WWI and WWII

Gaining access to United States military records for the 1900s, including World War I and World War II, is not quite as simple as it is for the older military records.

Share

Content Details

Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Carolyne Gould
Word Count: 920 (approx.)
Short URL:

Add Comment

Prior articles have addressed the main data available for military records from the American Revolutionary War through the Spanish American War. Gaining access to United States military records for the 1900s, including World War I and World War II is not quite as simple as it is for the older military records.

Information within the last 75 years is restricted, so microfilm copies and publications are not available through libraries or Family History Centers. Only service personnel, their authorized agents, or next of kin have access to those records.

For genealogical research, if you are not the official next of kin, you can obtain some information via the Freedom of Information Act. With the proper paperwork, you can obtain an individual's age or date of birth, civilian education level, decorations and awards, duty assignments, marital status, rank, and service number. Copies of photographs will also be released. This can be a treasure for family historians.

The data is obtained through the National Personnel Center. If there is more than one person with the name you are researching, the center may also provide the names of parents and the person's home address. To begin the process send a letter to the following address.

National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132

Be sure to state in the letter that you are doing genealogical research and that you are making your request under the Freedom of Information Act. There will be fees for the information and those fees will vary according to the amount of research time is spent. Bear in mind that a large fire on 12 July 1973 destroyed millions of military records. Approximately 80 percent of the army records from 1912 to 1959 were destroyed, and about sixty percent of the air force records for the years 1947 to 1963. I know at least one researcher, whose father's records had been lost, was able to track down more information through his father's medical records housed with the Veteran's Administration.

The National Archives and Records Administration has also been putting some military information online. The best way to access that info is through their search engine that is called the "Access to Archival Databases." The following is the most current list of online data:

Online at NARA's Access to Archival Databases (ADD)
http://www.archives.gov/aad/index.html

Title: Records of Duty Locations for Naval Intelligence Personnel, 1942 - 1945
Creator: Department of the Navy.~. U.S. Naval Group China. (1942 - ca. 1947)
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 38: Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Title: World War II Army Enlistment Records, 6/1/2002 - 9/30/2002
Creator: National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Records Services - Washington, D.C. Modern Records Programs. Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division.
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 64: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration

Title: Records About Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II, 1988 - 1989
Creator: Department of the Interior. War Relocation Authority.
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 210: Records of the War Relocation Authority

Title: Korean War File of American Prisoners of War, ca. 1950 - ca. 1953
Creator: Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. Collections and Dissemination Division. Intelligence Document Branch.
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 319: Records of the Army Staff

Title: Korean Conflict Casualty File, 11/1976 - 11/1979
Creator: Office of the Secretary of Defense. Washington Headquarters Services. Directorate for Information Operations and Reports. (1977 - )
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Title: Records on Military Personnel Who Died, Were Missing in Action or Prisoners of War as a Result of the Vietnam Conflict, ca. 1967 - ca. 12/1998
Creator: Department of Defense. Washington Headquarters Services. Directorate for Information Operations and Reports. Statistical Information Analysis Division. (ca. 1997 - )
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Title: World War II Prisoners of War File, ca. 1942 - ca. 1947
Creator: War Department. Adjutant General's Office. Machine Records Branch.
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 389: Records of the Office of the Provost Marshal General

Title: Korean War Casualty File, ca. 1950 - ca. 1970
Creator: Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Adjutant General's Office.
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 407: Records of the Adjutant General's Office

Title: Records of Deceased Army Personnel, Deceased Dependents of Active-Duty Army Personnel, and Active-Duty Wounded Army Personnel, 1/1/1961 - 12/1981
Creator: Department of Defense. Department of the Army. The Adjutant General's Office. Casualty and Memorial Affairs Directorate. Casualty Services Division.
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 407: Records of the Adjutant General's Office

Title: Records of Awards and Decorations of Honor During the Vietnam Conflict, 10/1968 - 12/1972
Creator: Department of Defense. Pacific Command. U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam. Data Management Agency
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 472: Records of the U. S. Forces in Southeast Asia, 1950-1975

Title: Unit Information for Vietnam Casualties Database, ca. 1983 - 6/19/2002
Level of Description: Series from Collection COFF: Richard Coffelt, Richard Arnold, and David Argabright Collection

These databases are continually added to so you'll probably want to check the website at least once a month to see if new material has been posted.

Other Articles in the Series:

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2005.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

Recent Feedback:
  • No matches for this listing.
  • Was this article helpful?   Yes No
    Your E-Mail   >> (optional)
    Comments   >>
    Privacy Level N   >>

    << GenWeekly

    << Helpful Articles

     

    Suggested Next Steps (BETA)

  • Would you like to browse through our collection of GenWeekly articles written exclusively for Genealogy Today? Yes, take me there
  • Would you like to keep up-to-date with the latest releases from Genealogy Today, along with news from a variety of other sources by receiving The Genealogy News (a FREE service) by email? Yes, sign me up
  • Would you like to become a Genealogy Today member and be able to manage your research experience, post messages to forums, add comments to resources and much more? Yes, show me how
  • Would you like to tap into our community of over 85,000 members by posting a query and get assistance breaking down your most difficult brickwalls? Yes, show me how
  • Would you like to go shopping in a marketplace of over 700 items, including charts, scrapbooking materials, books and a variety of unique gifts and supplies? Yes, take me there