Digging for Data on WWII Relatives

by , under Ancestry.com, Military Research, WWII

Today I presented a talk on “Digging for Data on WWII Relatives” at the March meeting the the Computer-Assisted Genealogy Group <http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohcagg/>, Cleveland Area. The meeting was held at the Fairview Park Library <http://www.cuyahogalibrary.org/Branches/Fairview-Park.aspx> in Fairview, Ohio. Here is my handout for the talk:

WWII Duration
7 Dec 1941 – 2 Sep 1945

Where Are WWII Military Records?
Any extant military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services for WWII are stored at National Personnel Records Center.
Homepage: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/

Ordering Veteran Record from NPRC

Access: Veteran or Next of Kin
Veterans have full access to their records
Next-of-kin of deceased veterans also have full access
Copies of extant military and medical records on file at NPRC (MPR)
Including Report of Separation (1941-1950) or the DD Form 214 (after 1950),

Next of Kin Defined
Un-remarried widow or widower Son or daughter Father or mother Brother or sister
Next-of-kin must provide proof of death for the Veteran such as a copy of death certificate, letter from funeral home, or published obituary.
Also available to a Veteran’s Representative

Access: Public
The public (including genealogists) has access to certain military service information without the veteran’s authorization or that of the next-of-kin of deceased veterans. This information is not considered an unwarranted invasion of privacy

Accessible to Public
Name and Service Number, and perhaps a Photograph
Dates of Service and Branch of Service
Rank and Date of Rank
Assignments and Geographical Locations
Place of entrance and separation
Awards and decorations (Eligibility only, not actual medals)
Transcript of Court-Martial Trial
Also, additional information if the veteran is deceased:
Place of birth
Date and geographical location of death Place of burial

 One Big Problem
Fire at NPRC, St Louis, on July 12, 1973 destroyed 75-80% of Army records created from 1912 to 1963.
Records for Navy and Marines were unharmed.
NPRC (MRC) Records Reconstruction
NPRC uses alternate sources to reconstruct basic service information to respond to requests for Army records.
19 million final pay vouchers. Medical records. To learn about reconstruction go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xNvAudiRwU

NPRC Records Made Permanent
The Department of Defense and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) signed an agreement on July 8, 2004, that makes the Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) a permanent series of records. Archival Research Room in St. Louis. Records being transferred to NARA custody 62 years after the service member’s separation from the military.

To Request Service Records
Veterans and the next-of-kin of deceased veterans may use the eVetRecs online request service hosted by NARA at https://vetrecs.archives.gov/VeteranRequest/home.html

For all others, use the Standard Form 180 (SF-180), Request Pertaining to Military Records. Download and instructions at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/standard-form-180.html

Other Records Available for WW II
Draft registrations
Recorded service records
Local sources
Newspaper reports
What’s online (and what’s not)

Recorded Discharge Papers
In Ohio, after April 7th, 2009
Only AUTHORIZED individuals able to obtain copies.
–     The person who is the subject of the Discharge
–     A County Veterans Service Officer
–     An Attorney in Fact
–     An Executor or Administrator of an Estate
–     A Funeral Home Director
Copies of Discharge Records must be requested in-person at the Recorder’s Office.

WRHS Cleveland Servicemen’s Photographs, 1940-1955 at Western Reserve Historical Society <www.wrhs.org>. To read about this collection, go to <http://www.wrhs.org/research/library/genealogy/database/cleveland-servicemen-photographs/>
To search the collection by name or keyword, go to <http://catalog.wrhs.org/genresources/search>

Research in online newspaper databases for:
Wounded or MIA reports
Return home reports

Unit Histories
Online sites have histories for many WWII military units.
Many books have been published about WWII divisions and other units.

Online Records related to WW II:
Mostly about men
Also about women as spouses, parents, etc.
WW II Records on Ancestry and Fold3
U.S. WW II Draft Registration Cards
1942 U.S. WW II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946
Some other WW II Records on Ancestry: New York Southern District, World War II Military; Naturalization Index, 1941-1946; WW II Prisoners of War, 1941-1946; WW II Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas; WW II Casualty Listings

Search Tips
If you don’t get any matches with an exact search, try broadening your search by including less information. Want to refine your “best matches” search? Try the Advanced Search options and fill out as much information as you can. Use the Soundex search. Names are often misspelled in historical records. Soundex allows you to search for last names that “sound like” the one you’re looking for.
Try this even if you think the spelling is obvious. Remember, even Smith can be “misspelled” (e.g., Smithe, Smyth, Smythe). Use a wildcard to view all words that begin with the same stem.
Use an asterisk for up to six characters. For example, a search for “Fran*” will return matches such as Fran, Franny, Frank, Frannie, and Frankie. Use a question mark for a single character. For example, a search for “Hans?n” will return matches such as Hansen and Hanson.

WW II Draft Registration Cards
For men 45 to 65 years old
Know as “Old Men’s Draft” Fourth Registration
Only registration currently available to the public due to privacy laws
Records for 8 states destroyed
WW II Enlistment Records
This database contains information on about 8.3 million men and women who enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. It is not complete, so it does not represent every U.S. Army enlistee.

Women in WWII
Beginning in December 1941, 350,000 women served in the United States Armed Forces, during WWII.

  • Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Women’s Army Corps or WAC),
  • Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), and
  • Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVE)

Research Suggestions:
Cyndi’s List at www.cyndislist.com.

Do a Google Search for a desired topic, e.g. “WWII Research Guide.”

Wikipedia.org has a wealth of information on a wide variety of subjects, including military organization, specific military units, military acronyms and abbreviations, and military ranks,

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