Family Tree Friday: Check out AAD for 20th century military databases.

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 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!

4 thoughts on “Family Tree Friday: Check out AAD for 20th century military databases.

  1. Dear Sir,
    Iam searching any informationof my father, Thies, Erwin, I think he was POW of WW2 and 1945 in Italy. Do you have any information of him or the Italisn camps.

    kind regards
    Heinz Thies

  2. Hi, I am interested if you could help me where i could possibly find my late father’s Oath of US Citizenship when he was deployed in Okinawa, Japan from March of 1948 to March 1949. He was enlisted to the US Army in the Philippines June 4, 1946. I have with me a copy of his service records from the NPRC in St. Louis, Missouri. But it did not contain his Oath of Citizenship. I understand they were given an Oath of Citizenship either before or after their discharge. Can you please help me shed a light on this matter? Thanks

  3. Ms. Pagulayan,
    I would like to assist you with your inquiry. However, there are many variables that contribute to your question and I need more information. Please feel free to contact me at and I will assist you with your request.

    Thank you,

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