Sunday, October 01, 2006

World War II Army Enlistment Records Database

If you have any ancestors or relatives who enlisted in the US Army during World War II, you might be able to find them listed in the Army Enlistment database provided by the National Archives (NARA). The original computer files for this database were created in 1994 by the Bureau of the Census at NARA's request. The Census Bureau used their "Film Optical Sensing Device for Input to Computers" (FOSDIC) system from a series of 1,586 microfilm rolls of computer punch cards. The original punch cards, which had basic information about enlistees when they entered the Army, were destroyed after being microfilmed in 1947. Unfortunately 212 microfilm rolls could not be converted to computer files because the card images were too dark. In 2002 NARA edited, merged and cleaned up these files, then later put them online. They can be searched from: Access to Archival Databases (AAD) Click on "World War II" when you get there.

Example of a World War II Army enlistment computer punch card
click the image to see a larger view

The Army Enlistment database contains 9,200,232 total records. You will find some errors in the database due to all the changes and editing the originals went through from punch card to microfilm to computer files. Also, about 1.5 million punch cards were not readable by the FOSDIC system from the original microfilm so the database is incomplete. NARA considers the database with its 9 million entries to be a "best guess" file. Note that the database is for United States Army enlistments, including the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC or WAC), and not other branches of the service. Despite the errors and omissions this is still a great tool for finding basic information about WWII Army enlistments.

The National Archives also has an excellent article about the creation of this database: The World War II Army Enlistment Records File and Access to Archival Databases

For more online WWII indexes see: Online World War II Indexes & Records

1 comment:

Darla Weber Connelly said...

Joe, do you know if records on a person who was dishonorable discharged in WWII are removed or is there any where to access these records?
Thank you for your possible help. We are trying to do some research on a family member.
Darla Connelly