Cindy Freed and I, writers for the In-Depth Genealogist, were interviewed on IDG’s new YouTube channel. Cindy talked about Civil War Research and her book Ancestors in a Divided Nation. I talked about World War II research and my two new books, Stories from the World War II Battlefield, which will soon be released on researching all branches of the military in WWII.
As I listened to Cindy talk about the research, I thought there were a lot of similarities between Civil War research and that of World War II. Regardless of which war, you are seeking similar records: Enlistment and Discharge; Death and Burial information; Payroll information; service history; and battle history. Cindy and I spoke and decided to write blog posts comparing the records and strategies for research. Please read Cindy’s post examining Civil War records.
Is it important to locate the address for your veteran to find records?
Yes. You need this information particularly if you need to conduct a VA Index Card search at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) to obtain the serial number for your soldier. Check the 1940 U.S. Federal Census or city directories for your ancestor to find an address.
Where can I find the enlistment and discharge or death dates for my soldier?
- Army Enlistment database located on the National Archives website, Fold3.com, or Ancestry.com
- Search the American Battle Monuments Commission website for your soldier if he died in service and is buried overseas. If unsure if your soldier survived or died in service, search the database.
- Check Individual State lists. Most states published lists of soldier, especially if they were Killed In Action (KIA.)
- Order the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) from the NPRC.
- Order the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) from Ft. Knox if your soldier was KIA.
- Crew Lists and Muster Rolls (Navy and Marine Corps) often have enlistment and death dates. These can be found on Fold3.com and Ancestry.com and at the National Archives in College Park, MD.
Where can I find service history for World War II soldiers?
- OMPF (or pieces such as the Separation and Discharge Papers)
- Morning Reports (Army, Air Corps, National Guard), Muster Rolls (Marines), Crew Lists (Navy.)
- Medical Records
- Accident Reports (aircraft)
- Missing Air Crew Reports
Veterans Administration Files
What can I find in Courthouse and Public Records?
- Separation and Discharge papers are often found in the County Recorder or Clerk’s office. Veterans were encouraged to file after the war ended.
What are some online sources for World War II Records?
- National Archives website
- FaceBook has many WWII groups
- Look for Division and Reunion Association groups to which your soldier may have belonged. Or groups which hold the history of the unit in which your soldier fought. Many have online historical archives. Most have reunions where you can meet new people, research records, and speak with veterans.
- ABMC database. Also search the Veterans Cemetery system if your veteran may have been buried in a VA cemetery. You can also search Ancestry.com or FamilySearch’s database: Applications for Headstones for Military Veterans. Veterans buried in public or private, non-military cemeteries may have military stones.
Where else might I locate information?
- VFW, American Legion, Elks Lodge, Moose, any organization in which your veteran was a member. They may hold information.
- Search for unit histories to learn more about your soldier.
If you are not familiar with The In-Depth Genealogist, please check them out. I write a monthly column called Stories from the Battlefield where I discuss all aspects of World War II research.
© 2015, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL