Footnote Releases Web’s Biggest WWII Collection

By Diane Haddad

Subscription historical records site Footnote has posted the Web’s largest collection of WWII records just in time for Pearl Harbor Day (Dec. 7)—and they’re free for a limited time.

Footnote CEO Russ Wilding and National Archives programs director James Hastings made the official announcement this morning at a Washington, DC, press conference.

The collection offers four main components:

  • An interactive version of the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii (it’s similar to Footnote’s free, interactive Vietnam Wall memorial) showing servicemembers who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor. You can search for a name and link to its image on the memorial, as well as get details about the person’s service. Or you can manuever across a giant image of the memorial.
  • WWII Hero Pages—similar to the free, Social Security Death Index-based Footnote Pages released earlier this year—which lets you create an online tribute for your WWII ancestor with photos, timelines and stories. More than 8.8 million pages have already been created.
  • WWII photos, consisting of more than 80,000 digitized images from the National Archives that haven’t been online until now. You can browse by topic or search captions that highlight the people, places and events in the images.
  • WWII documents include submarine air patrol reports, missing crew reports, news clippings, Pearl Harbor muster rolls, JAG files and more.

Note the collection doesn’t include WWII military service records. These records, stored at the National Archives’ National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, are restricted for privacy reasons. A servicemember—or if he’s deceased, his next-of-kin—can request his file. See the center’s Web site for more information.

No specifics on how long the collection will stay free, though I’d hazard a guess that the USS Arizona Memorial and Hero Pages will be permanently free.

PS: I just learned that is the case, and the photos also will remain free. The document collection will be free for all of December.