Family Tree Friday: Building Your Family Tree with Military and Civilian Personnel Records
This week’s Family Tree Friday post comes from guest blogger Theresa Fitzgerald from the National Archives at St. Louis. Theresa shows us the wealth of genealogical information available within the National Personnel Records Center!
There’s often one question when beginning one’s family tree: Where do I begin? Many start with their own family collection of information. Others begin with Ancestry.com for the census or immigration information. More begin by contacting the National Archives at Kansas City for the Alien files, or Washington, D.C., for the pension records of eighteenth and nineteenth century soldiers. However, few are aware of the wealth of information contained in the Military Personnel Records and Civilian Personnel Records located at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) for personnel from all branches of the Armed Forces (Army, Army Air Corps, Army Air Forces, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) who served and were discharged, died in service or were retired more than 62 years ago have been accessioned by the National Archives and are available to the public. NPRC will continue to open to the public its OMPF holdings of over 57 million individual files progressively until the entire collection has been accessioned in 2067.
These archived records are treasured by family members, historians, researchers, and genealogists alike. Contained in a typical OMPF are documents outlining all elements of military service, including assignments, evaluations, awards and decorations, education and training, demographic information, some medical information and documented disciplinary actions. Some records also contain photographs of the individual and official correspondence concerning military service.
Morning reports have also been accessioned to the National Archives and contain daily reports of changes for the Army from 1912 to 1959. These provide the information such as where a veteran was serving and what their actions may have been throughout their military career.
In addition to the OMPFs, the Civilian Official Personnel Files (OPFs) from all branches of government employment who served from the 19th Century up to 1951 have been accessioned by the National Archives and are available to the public. These files provide maiden names, paternal and maternal information, next of kin, and date of birth, place of birth, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, employment background, newspaper clippings, family letters, and photographs.
The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri maintains the records of thousands of military and civilian service men and women. They contain an array of genealogical information that provides insight into their government service as well as family history. Do not forget the veterans and civilians in your family that served our country. Not only did freedom benefit from their fighting and service, but family history did as well.
If you are interested in learning more about these records and would like to request or view the files, please visit http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/standard-form-180.html. Print, fill in, and mail the Standard Form 180 to the National Personnel Records Center 9700 Page Ave, St. Louis, MO, 63132, or make an appointment in our research room by calling 314-801-0951.
A successful request will contain the individual’s complete name, service dates, and military service number. To confirm that we have referenced the correct file, it is also helpful to provide the individual’s date and place of birth and, if possible, the date of release from military service.