Free World War I Records: The Veterans Administration Master Index
The Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917–1940 collection at FamilySearch now tops 3 million records. This is an index to case files used by various agencies to keep track of compensation and insurance claims for veterans and their heirs. WWI veterans and their heirs are covered for the time period of this index, as are veterans and heirs of earlier wars who were still living.
Here’s a sample index record from the FamilySearch index, which references the original index card, shown below that (which isn’t part of the collection):
(See this Master Index Card File Key to Codes and Prefixes for explanations of these abbreviations.)
The information in the index can help you determine whether an entry pertains to an ancestor, so you can order a copy of the original case file at the National Archives. Case files can contain fantastic genealogical documentation that was sent by applicants to prove their identities, relationships and claims. You might find birth, death and marriage records; military discharge paperwork; pension and insurance applications; medical records; and affidavits or correspondence pertaining to the claims.
More information about the Deceased Veteran’s Claim Files and how to request them is at the National Archives at St. Louis website.
Here are a few more tips for using this collection:
• If the case wasn’t closed before 1955 (meaning the veteran or heirs were still living), the file may not yet be part of this collection, and be still belong to the Veterans Administration.
• An earlier but overlapping version of this index is searchable at Ancestry.com and may include additional information, such as an XC file number, which will help you request case files.
• The index at FamilySearch isn’t complete; more records will be added over time. • Use what you learn about an ancestor’s military service to research the experiences of his or her military unit.
More Free WWI Records at FamilySearch
FamilySearch has also recently published these new WWI collections for individual U.S. states:
• Alabama, World War I Service Cards, 1917–1919;
• Indiana, World War I, Enrollment Cards, 1919;
• Mississippi, World War I Army Veterans, Master alphabetical index, 1917–1918; and
• Washington, World War I Veteran’s Compensation Fund Application Records, 1921–1925.
Take the next step in researching your WWI ancestor with our guide to the Top 10 WWI genealogy websites!