As a way to wrap up the discussion about records relating to military service in the 20th century, it would be a good idea to check out the electronic records available on NARA’s Access to Archival Databases (AAD) . AAD is an online resource available on the NARA web site at http://aad.archives.gov/aad/ and contains a small selection of databases representing over 85 million electronic records created by 30 federal agencies (as well as some collections of donated historical materials). These databases are now part of NARA’s permanent holdings. The records include useful information about people, such as enlistment files, casualties, and prisoner of war records for World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
The databases can be browsed under two different categories. Under the category Genealogy/Personal History there are links to search databases relating to Casualties, Military Personnel, and Prisoners of War. If you would just like to search databases related to a specific war, check the Wars/International Relations category for specific links to World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War.
The databases provide some very diverse information. For example, the electronic records for World War II include:
- Files relating to Army enlistments for the period 1938-46
- World War II Prisoners of War, 1942-47
- World War II Prisoners of the Japanese data files, 1941-45
- Records about Japanese Americans relocated during World War II, 1942-46
- Records of duty locations for Naval Intelligence Personnel, 1942-45
The information in each database can be searched according to specific data fields or tables established by the agency that created the records. In the WWII Army Enlistment Records database, for example, the search fields include Army Serial Number; Name; Residence: State; Residence: County, Place of Enlistment; Date of Enlistment Year; Source of Army Personnel; and Year of Birth. Codes are available for certain fields that were populated with such data (the codes, of course, were defined by the creating agency). For the state of residence field in the enlistment database, each state was identified in the original electronic file by a two-digit code; a list of those codes is available to select from as you fill in the search fields to access the database.
You may wonder, did these electronic records actually exist during the wars in question? Well, no. Remember, these databases were created decades later by federal agencies, usually to fulfill or perform certain business functions or needs. The database on WWII Japanese prisoners of war was actually created between April 2005 and October 2007 by the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC)–a non-profit Veterans’ organization–to provide more complete information about prisoners held by the Japanese. The ADBC subsequently donated the database to NARA.
As you search for information relating to military participation in America’s 20th century wars, consider using these unique online resources to enhance your research!