World War II Research Guides

Jennifer Holik has written a series of guides for World War II research. These guides are available in the Kindle books store on Amazon. Each guide costs $4.99 and can be read on any device using the free Kindle app. Click the title for details and purchase.

Starting World War II Research Finding the Answers: Starting World War II Research

World War II research is surrounded by stories and myths which often give people the perception they cannot obtain any information about military service.

→ Have you heard, ‘All the records burned!’

→ Have you read on a website that you must be the next-of-kin to receive information?

→ Do you think sending in one form to request records gives you everything available?

→ Do you know there are additional records at NPRC, that staff will not search for you, that are required for Army and Army Air Forces research?

→ Do you think starting your search in unit records will provide all the answers?

In this guide you will learn everything you need to know to start your World War II research, even if the records burned. Armed with the information you discover, you can find the answers to your military research questions.

WWIIidpfFinding the Answers in the Individual Deceased Personnel File

Who do we ask about our family member’s service, especially when most of our WWII-era family members are gone? What records exist to help find the answers? The Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) is the most important file you need to help you find the answers to your questions regarding those who died in service. The IDPF documents the death, and temporary and final burial details, of WWII service members from all military branches.

This quick guide introduces you:
→ What the IDPF is and is not.
→ To the questions about military service and death you may be able to answer through the pages of this file.
→ The history of the men who created the records.
→ Information on obtaining the file and other records.
→ Where to go to learn more.

WWIIonlineFinding the Answers: Discovering World War II Service Online

There is a common misconception that all military records exist online. While many records are digitized and placed on line each day, the fact is, most of the records required are in paper format in repositories and archives. Requiring records that exist only on paper may leave you wondering, what can I find online? How can I find information easily?

This quick guide introduces you to:

→ Reasons to research WWII service online.
→ What records may be available online.
→ Techniques to make searching easier.
→ A research form to track websites you’ve visited.
→ A sample of websites on which you can find information.
→ Checklist of specific databases and indexes.
→ Where to go to learn more.

WWIIwomenFinding the Answers: Researching Women in World War II

Women played crucial roles during World War II after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Men felt an obligation to join the military and rushed to enlist. Enlistment and later the draft, required men to vacate jobs on the home front. As a result, women were recruited and trained to take over jobs left by men. The military also began programs for women to volunteer to aid the war effort, or in some cases, join the military as enlisted personnel and officers.

This quick guide introduces you to:

→ A brief history of the shift of roles women played at home and in service.
→ Histories of the components of each military branch in which women served.
→ Army: Women’s Army Corps (WACs), Army Nurses, Army Air Forces – Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) and Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS).
→ Navy WAVES – Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, Navy Nurses.
→ Coast Guard SPARS
→ Marine Corps Women’s Reserve (MCWR)
→ Histories of the civilian organizations in which women served
→ Red Cross
→ Tips for locating information to begin a search for records with checklists.

Note: This guide sells for $6.99

World War I: Online

The Library of Congress has opened an online portal to their World War I collection.

Today we launched a comprehensive portal to its extensive holdings on the subject of World War I (1914–1918) as part of our commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the U.S. involvement in the war. The portal is a one-stop destination page for digitized versions of many of these assets.

These remarkable collections include recruitment and wartime information posters, photos from the front, manuscripts and papers of prominent figures such as General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, newspapers that provided the first draft of the war’s history, maps of campaigns and battle lines, sound recordings of prominent leaders of the era, war-related sheet music, even early film treasures.

Along with extensive access to these rare materials, the portal will include links to the online version of the Library’s major new exhibition, “Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I,” which opens April 4.

In addition, the portal will feature articles from our blogs, written by Library curators who will offer unique insight into the collections and highlight stories and materials that are most revealing about the war, and America’s involvement in it—before, during and after its military participation.

Learn more at the LOC WWI portal site.

Black History Collection at Fold3

February is Black History Month and Fold3 is making their Black History Collection free this month.

Fold3 is now revealing a side of the Black History story that few have seen before. View photos and documents found nowhere else on the internet. Connect your own history by adding your own stories, photos, and documents.

Records cover the following eras:

  • Slavery
  • The Civil War
  • Reconstruction & Jim Crow Laws
  • World Wars
  • Civil Rights Movement

Visit Black History at Fold3

War of 1812 Pension Files at Fold3

The documents in this collection include full pension application files for soldiers and sailors who served in the War of 1812, as well as for their widows and children, or other heirs. The first applications were filed by servicemen who were disabled as a result of their service, or by widows who lost a husband in the war.

The descriptive pamphlet for the Index to War of 1812 Pension Application Files, M313, published by NARA, provides a great deal of background and explanatory information about the pension files and the acts that provided for them.

So far 65% of this collection has been indexed. The War of 1812 Pension Files at Fold3 is currently accessible at no charge.

The American Legion’s Historical Archives

The American Legion’s Digital Archive has received a new batch of historical documents. Recently added is the full run of the National Legionnaire, a newspaper that ran more or less monthly from January 1935 through November 1948. The Legionnaire provided the latest news on Legion activities and priorities from across the country. It was folded into The American Legion Magazine as its own section in February 1949. 2017 will bring even more additions to the Digital Archive, including 30 years of press releases from the Legion’s news service. To learn how to use the archive, visit the American Legion website.

Source: The American Legion’s Historical Archives article at