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Family Tree Friday: More Info on Compiled Military Service Records.

by on January 15, 2010

calrow-cmsrIn my previous blog I mentioned compiled military service records for volunteer soldiers.  While CMSRs are generally recognized as the official record of a volunteer’s military career, did you know they were NOT created at the time the soldier served?  The War Department first created compiled service records in the early 1890s to help verify military service information for the thousands of Union veterans who were applying for pension benefits.  The idea was to consolidate or “compile” all information about an individual soldier from other available sources–including wartime muster rolls, casualty sheets, regimental descriptive books, hospital and prison records–onto a single carded record.  After they finished the project for Union soldiers, the Department went back and created compiled service records for volunteer soldiers from the Revolutionary War through the Philippine Insurrection.  From 1903 to 1927 they also compiled service records for Confederate soldiers. 

As I mentioned previously, the War Department did not create compiled service records for soldiers in the Regular Army since their military service was already documented in the Register of Enlistments.


Richard L G ARCIA February 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I am looking for a cpy of my DD214

John February 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Hi Richard,

Modern military service records (covering service in World War I and later), including the DD214, are located at the National Personnnel Records Center in St. Louis. The NPRC is part of the National Archives. You can request a copy of the DD214 by filling out Standard Form (SF) 180, which you can download directly from the NARA web site at Mailing instructions are on the form. Your question suggests a good topic for a future post!

Karen June 15, 2010 at 9:29 am

I am looking to obtain a copy of my fathers DD214.

John June 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

Hi Karen – You should be able to obtain your father’s DD214 from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. You will need to fill out a copy of Standard Form (SF) 180, which is available (in pdf format) on NARA’s web site at You can fill in the required fields online and then print the form (mailing instructions are included on the form). Or, you can also submit an online request using eVetRecs at (this service is only available for veterans or their next of kin).

Julia August 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

John’s posts are both accurate. My cousin recently obtained a DD214 for her father. It only took about three weeks to arrive; however, they charged $20 for the file even though she is his daughter and sent along copies of his death certificate and her birth certificate. With all the important data the file contained (10 pages worth), it was well worth it in this case, anyway.

John – What becomes of these copies of vital records that are sent along as proof – the birth certificate & death certificate? Are they destroyed? Are they included in the file and sent along as part of it with the next request? They were definitely not returned.

Thank you.

John August 11, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Julia – Since I don’t work at the Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, I can’t say for certain what they do with supporting documents for record requests. I’m sure they do not include those vital records as part of the historical personnel file. Researcher requests usually are not permanent records, so they are probably kept in a temporary file for a certain period and then destroyed. You can always check with the reference staff at St. Louis for a more definite answer!

James Henry Parker Jr. October 31, 2010 at 11:52 am

would like a copy of my dd214

Meredith D. (admin) November 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Hi, James –

You should be able to obtain a copy of your DD214 from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. You will need to fill out a copy of Standard Form (SF) 180, which is available in pdf format on NARA’s web site at You can fill in the required fields online and then print the form (mailing instructions are included on the form). Or, you can also submit an online request using eVetRecs at (this service is only available for veterans or their next of kin).

Best of luck with your research!

roderick b brooks October 14, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I would like a copy of my DD214 form

Meredith D. (admin) October 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Hi Roderick,

Veterans and their next-of-kin can request copies of their Military Service Records using our online eVetRecs system, or by mailing a copy of the SF-180 form, both available on our website:

Best of luck with your research!

Theresa November 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Hi Roderick,
You may request a copy of your DD214 by visiting and going to the veteran’s section. There you have the option of requesting your record via eVetRecs or by completing a Standard Form 180 and mailing it to us at:
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63138

Thank you!

Connie B. December 27, 2011 at 11:37 am

My husband is trying to get his DD214. He requested it through here but the password he was given was incorrect. He was told that he’d have to reapply and wouldn’t be able to do so for another 3 years. He is very sick and we are trying to get VA medical help but cannot do so without that form. What can we do? Please help.

Theresa December 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Connie, It will NOT take another three years before you are able to reapply. You may request the DD214 via mail as well. Mail your standard form 180 to National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Dr. St. Louis, MO 63138. Or you may fax in your Standard Form 180 to 314-801-9195. The Standard Form 180 may be found at in the veteran’s section. I hope this helps.

Theodore Davis April 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I copied and pasted the web address, but the message read that I was FORBIDDEN to access

Mary (admin) May 1, 2012 at 11:11 am

Hi Theodore,

We were having a few issues with our webpage, but all should be resolved now.

Thanks for your feedback!


Gloria Moore July 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

I am trying to find information about my great grandfather in the civil war. Theodore Collins fitch. Vol. 6th OhioVol. Infantry? Forms 85 and 86 need? born 14 Sept. 1837 or 1838. Wife Mary Burr Putnam. Please let me know if there is anything. Thank you very much. Gloria Moore.

John July 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Hi Gloria,

I checked the relevant indexes and there are service records and a pension file available for Theodore C. Fitch, Co. A, 6th Ohio Infantry. So, yes, you can use NATF forms 85 and 86 to request both types of records. It appears that Theodore also served in Co. F, 121 Ohio Infantry, so you will probably need to submit a separate request for the service records for each regiment.

Good luck with your research!


Judi October 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I am trying to locate the burial place of a relative who was a Union soldier from PA who died in the Marine Hosp. in Baltimore, MD on Feb. 21, 1863 of smallpox. He served with the 12th reg. co. I from Huntingdon, PA

John October 18, 2012 at 9:25 am

Hi Judi,

This might be a difficult question to answer. It would depend on whether this hospital in Baltimore had its own cemetery, used a local cemetery, or turns the remains over to family after the soldier’s death. We have records of military hospitals during the Civil War, which may or may not include death or burial records (the availability of the records varies for each hospital). Your best option to follow up on information about the hospital itself would be to contact the military reference staff at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC (where those records are kept) at If the soldier was buried privately and the family later applied for a government headstone, we may also have the application on file, which would provide the location of the grave. Such headstone applications are available in National Archives Microfilm Publication M1845, Card Records of Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, ca. 1879-1903. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is also in the process of compiling a national graves registration database for all Union and Confederate soldiers, located on their web site at Check there to see if your soldier has been added.

Good luck with your search!


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