Using Archival Databases to Search Military Personnel Records
The Access to Archival Databases (AAD) system is a good source for finding many types of military records -- all the way from the 1800s to the present. These records are searchable by anyone, as they are limited and more detailed records are available via mail for next-of-kin or people with permission from next-of-kin. The steps below outline how to search for military personnel records, through the AAD system, and what you will find.
How to Search for Military Personnel Records
1. Go to http://www.archives.gov/.
2. Scroll down the left side bar menu until you reach the ‘Research & Order’ section. You will first have to pass the ‘What We Do’ and ‘Explore & Interact’ sections.
3. Under the ‘Research & Order’ section, select the ‘Start Your Research’ option. It will be the first available option underneath this section.
4. Scroll down the center of this next page, until you see the ‘Online Research Tools’ section. This section will list several links to various research tools on Archives.gov.
5. You want to choose the second link titled ‘Access to Archival Databases (AAD)’.
6. Once on the AAD page, you can choose to search using a specific term or you can browse by category. The category you should look for in order to do a military personnel search is Genealogy/Personal History.
7. You should select the ‘Military Personnel’ option underneath the ‘Genealogy/Personal History‘ heading.
8. You will be taken to a list of specific records within that category. It will also let you know how many records are within each listing. Select ‘Search’ once you find which database you are looking for.
9. After you select the database that you want to search, you will first be taken to a page that will give you a thorough overview of what the records contain. If you want to continue, select ‘Search’ again.
10. You will then be taken to a form to select your search criteria. This criteria will vary depending on the database you have chosen to search. Databases containing records of military personnel will have the following criteria options: Name, gender, nationality, death date, place of death, the person responsible for the death, or the burial place.
11. Your search will result in a list of all the people within that database that meet your search criteria.
12. When you find a record that interests you, select the paper icon, under the ‘View Record’, heading beside the person’s name.
13. You will then be able to view that individual’s partial record. The information in this record may be very limited depending on what kind of information is available on the individual and what type of report you are viewing. The available information may include: the person’s name, their social Security number, their age, their race, their gender, their nationality, their status, their employer, their date of their death, the place of their death, the date their body was received, the person responsible for their death, the place of burial, if they were cremated, the location of the cremains, register, what marker, what section, what cemetery row, which grave, cost of the burial, and any remarks included in the file.
In additional to a military personnel search, you can use the AAD system for several other different kinds of searches -- including Indexes (Photographs, Textual Records, etc), Private Sector (Businesses, Labor Unions, etc), Places (Countries, States, Counties, etc), Wars/International Relations (Civil War, World War I & II, etc), Government Spending (Contracts, Grants, etc), and Time Spans (1800-1900, 1965-1975, 1995-present, etc).
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