United States World War I Service Records
Official Military Personnel Files
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis maintains World War I Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs).
Access to Non-Archival Military Service Records is limited. Non-Archival records are those of service members who separated from the military less than 62 years ago. See Access to Non-Archival Records for more information. Records of individuals who left service more than 62 years ago are considered Archival Records and become records of the National Archives open to the general public.
Order records from the National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis at the Start your Military Service Record Request page at the National Archives website.
On July 12, 1973, a fire at the NPRC destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files. The affected record collections are described below.
|Branch||Personnel and Period Affected||Estimated Loss|
|Army||Personnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960||80%|
|Air Force|| Personnel discharged, September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964
(with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.)
No duplicate copies of the records that were destroyed in the fire were maintained, nor was a microfilm copy ever produced. There were no indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available. Nevertheless, NPRC uses many alternate sources in its efforts to reconstruct basic service information to respond to requests.
Indexes mentioning some sailors are the following:
- Index to Rendezvous Reports, Naval Auxiliary Service, 1917–1918. National Archives Microfilm Publication T1100. (Family History Library film 1380690) Lists the name, enlistment date, date of assignment, and place.
- Index to Rendezvous Reports, Armed Guard Personnel, 1917–1920. National Archives Microfilm Publication T1101. (Family History Library films 1380696–98) Lists the name, enlistment date, rank, dates of service, and name of vessel served on.
State archives in the state where your ancestor lived may have records. (For addresses, see the state WWI articles.)
County courthouses may have discharge papers. (For addresses, see Everton's Handybook for Genealogists or the internet.)
Check with a nearby Veterans Administration for other kinds of records such as hospital and disability records.