Branching Out: Enlisting Support

By Diane Haddad Premium


The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has added WWII enlistment records for 9 million soldiers to its Access to Archival Databases (AAD) <> online resource. They’re part of the World War II Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File of facts from NARA’s scans of microfilmed WWII enlistment punch cards.

You can search the database by Army serial number, name, state, county, place of enlistment and birth year. Results show those facts plus enlistment date, birthplace, race, education level, civilian occupation and marital status. The database doesn’t have records of officers, members of other military branches or the 1.5 million cards on poor-quality microfilms that couldn’t be scanned. It does hold records of the 130,000-plus Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps members.

Enlistees wrote their names and serial numbers on the punch cards, along with codes for personal information. Then they punched holes corresponding to the codes (similar to modern election ballots). AAD translates the punch-outs for you. The original cards no longer exist (but you can see the microfilms of them at NARA’s College Park, Md., facility.)

AAD isn’t user-friendly, so read the frequently asked questions and tips before searching. You can use the details in your ancestor’s enlistment record to request his military personnel records <> and as proof of WWII service.
From the October 2004 Family Tree Magazine