World War II Army enlistment records for more than 9 million soldiers online through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). These records, which are part of NARA’s online Archival Databases (AAD), are divided into two files: 1. Army Serial Number Merged File (Enlistment Records) and 2. Army Serial Number Merged File (Reserve Corps Records).
The enlistment records are not the military service records. The service records of Army personnel discharged from 1912 to 1960 were destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. The destruction of the service records makes the enlistment records very important to genealogists.
The enlistment records posted online are transcriptions, not originals. Army officers are not included in these records, but the Woman’s Army Auxiliary Corps records are included. Both of the databases, Enlistment Records and Reserve Corps Records, should be checked when researching in these records.
These enlistment records contain name, serial number, state and county of residence, place and date of enlistment, grade, Army branch, term of enlistment, state of birth, year of birth, race, education, civilian occupation, and marital status.
There were about 1.5 million cards (13%) that could not be scanned and are not included in the files. NARA also has reported there are many scanning errors because of the poor condition of the microfilm. However, I had no trouble finding several people I was looking for in the database. If you have problems, help is provided in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the web page.
Searching in these records is simple. A search can be done by serial number, name, state and county of residence, place and year of enlistment, year of birth. All the fields do not have to be filled in and wildcard searching is allowed.
I recommend that you search with the name and state of residence fields. To search by state, a state code is needed. Clicking on “Select from Code List” will take you to a screen with all the state codes. Check the state you want and then click “Submit.” This takes you back to the search screen with the state you selected filled in. After entering the name and state, click “Search.”
I did a search of Colorado residents in the Enlistment Records. The result was 45,583 records.
The Army Enlistment Records can be accessed through AAD on the NARA website at http://aad.archives.gov/aad/index.jsp and are free. Click on World War II, then Record Group 64. They are also available at Ancestry.com in the database titled “World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946." Ancestry is a paid subscription site.
There are three additional AAD files relating to WW II which are of interest to genealogists:
The Army enlistment record may be the only proof that your ancestor participated in World War II. NARA has provided a much needed resource to fill the gap in records that resulted from the 1973 fire.