WWI Military Personnel Records, St. Louis

 
 
 
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steved
steved's picture
WWI Military Personnel Records, St. Louis

I have received copies of WWI Military Personnel Records for a soldier who was wounded in France in 1918. The records came from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Many of the records were damaged by fire.

The file contains about 20 pages of miscellaneous information, including: Silver Star application, hospital records, date, place and type of injury, etc.

I have a copy of National Archives and Records Administration, Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States, General Information Leaflet 17 (Washington: NARA, 2010), and Evidence Explained, but cannot determine how these copies should be cited.

Appreciate any guidance.

EE
EE's picture

Steve, did you obtain the photocopies directly from the NPRC itself or from a fellow researcher? If it came directly from the Center, did the staff not put any semblance of a citation on the photocopy? Perhaps a stamp on the back of a document?  (The devil is always in the details!)

The Editor

steved
steved's picture

The documents were requested by submitting a Standard Form 180 (SF-180) to request all documents in the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF).

The response came directly from NPRC. There is a cover letter listing the Veteran's name, SSN/SN [****478], and the request number [1-1066522***]. The letter is dated 30 April 2012.

"Thank you for contacting the National Personnel Records Center. We have received your payment for copy material for the veteran named above. Your photocopy(ies) are enclosed..."

None of the Xerox copies have any marking on the reverse. It does give a phone number to call, and I will do that tomorrow.

My primary reason for this post is to find direction concerning a format for the citation.

Thanks for your response.

Springtime Genealogy

www.stevedahlstrom.com

EE
EE's picture

This is perplexing, but not surprising. NARA has excellent archivists, many of them with graduate training in history. Yet, somehow photocopies seem to escape from their facilities with little to no identification.

For want of anything concrete from them, the following would likely suffice:

[Name of Soldier] personnel file, service no. _________ (discharged 19___); Official Military Personnel Files, Enlisted Personnel, ____-____, Army; National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis Missouri; photocopies supplied by the Center without citation.

The potential problem lies with the words between the first and second semi-colons. Typically, that series name would carry a starting and ending date. EE does not have at hand a guide that cites the specific dates for the Army series, only the Navy. It's also possible that the records sent to you might be from a different series or subseries. Without some cryptic notation supplied by the Center, we're flying blind here. At the least, the above details should enable future researchers or record pullers to find the file.

As for the hospital and Silver Star info you found in the file, those details should lead you to other records that would have been archived separately from the personnel file that was subject to damage in the 1973 St. Louis fire. If you’re new to this type of research, you might get guidance on these additional records at the blog, _Stump Craig_ (http://stumpcraig.blogspot.com/).

 

The Editor

Hiztorybuff
Hiztorybuff's picture

I have Navy records obtained from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, as well. I received them back in 1989, long before I knew about "proper" citation. I went back to look at the photocopies, and all of my copies lack proper citation from the Center as well. The only information I received was a form with my ancestor's name and his serial number along with the photocopies. There is no documentation information anywhere on any of the copies.

EE
EE's picture

Alas, Hiztorybuff, yours is a common problem. Photocopies from NARA and NPRC, from time to time, do manage to insert themselves into envelopes and jump into the mail system completely naked of any citation—or else they carry a notation so cryptic that the recipient doesn't realize it's supposed to be a citation. Have you read QuickLesson 4 ("NARA Citations & Finding Aids")?  While that QL deals with NARA-NYC, rather than the NPRC-St. Louis, the basic principles are the same. Every archive of this type has its finding aids, through which we can identify what we have received.

Whether we are "history buffs," historians, or history students, the time we spend studying these finding aids carries a far bigger return on our investment than Apple stock. (Stock rises and falls, but the records we learn about from those finding aids is knowledge that stays with us and pays dividends for the rest of our research lives!

 

The Editor

dcshuler
dcshuler's picture

I finally received a response from the NPRC yesterday with information on my grandfather, who served in WWII.  According to the letter, his records were included in a large batch that were destroyed in a fire.

Instead of his records or OMPF, they sent a Certificate of Military Service (NA Form 13038) documenting his dates of service, branch, and rank and electronically generated on Jan 23, 2013.   This is not an army certificate but an archives form with the branch printed so I'm not sure of the series. There is a notation on the bottom of this certificate that says:

"National Personnel Records Center

(Military Personnel Records)

National Archives and Records Administration"

Do I cite this as: [name of soldier] Certification of Military Service (NA Form 13038), service no. ____, (discharged 7 Oct 1945); Military Personnel Records; National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis Missouri; photocopies supplied by the Center without citation.

steved
steved's picture

According to the National Archives (St. Louis) website, Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), "are accessioned into the National Archives, and become archival, 62 years after the service member's separation from the military." Thus for Army, enlisted personnel, the series covers the period 1912 to 1950, but the latter date is a rolling date. I suppose one could use 1912-1950, because that is the current date, but it would be inaccurate in a year.

website: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/archival-programs/military-personnel-archival/index.html 

 

Springtime Genealogy

www.stevedahlstrom.com

EE
EE's picture

You're analyzing well, Steve. We always run a risk when we extrapolate citations from generic website discussions of its holdings, but if (as with the documents you ordered) that is all an archives provides, then that's what we have to work with. When creating a citation for a "rolling date," the standard way to handle the situation is to use open dating: i.e., 1912--. (Note, here, that the two hyphens should actually be an em dash.)

The Editor

steved
steved's picture

Thank you for your generous assistance. I would not have thought of the notation about the records being supplied without citation, or of using the "em" dash. Perhaps others will be able to read this discussion and learn as much as I did.

Best wishes to you.

Springtime Genealogy

www.stevedahlstrom.com

dcshuler
dcshuler's picture

I'm glad the "rolling date" issue was included here since many of the death certificate sets online use a rolling date, usually 50 from the current year.

I have a military file ordered as well and I look forward to seeing if I have the same issues.

Hiztorybuff
Hiztorybuff's picture

In re-reading this thread regarding records obtained from the National Personnel Records Center, I have a few further questions.

In my blog, I cited a portion of the service record as follows: 

Compiled service record, Albert H. Pastoor personnel file, service no. 1521327 (discharged 1921); Official Military Personnel Files, World War I; Enlisted Personnel, 1885 -- , United States Navy; National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis; photocopies were supplied by Center without citation. The above photo, from the service record, is an affidavit of Mrs. Helen Pastoor Carman, sister of Albert H. Pastoor.

It was pointed out to me that the comments at the end should have been specifically cited. I posted a scanned document of "Consent, Declaration, and Oath of Parent or Guardian" with the above citation. This got me thinking. Since the file contains enlistment papers, with the above referenced consent, two re-enlistment papers, various service records, letters, education files and personal descriptions (fingerprints, tatoos, etc), should I have a citation for each portion of the file? I had been using the above citation for everything referenced within the record as if it were one document. 

 

EE
EE's picture

Hiztorybuff,

When our narrative (or a piece of info we enter into a database) comes from one specific document in a file, we should identify that document. The standard format is to cite the document (by creator, type of document and date), then cite the file, the collection, the series, the record group, the archives, and the city—in that order, going from smallest item to largest.

Your example above doesn't follow this practice precisely, but your instincts are obviously good. You've made it clear which record the piece of information came from (assuming Mrs. Carman did not make more than one affidavit), although you did not include a date to help in the evidence evaluation, as well as source identification, process.

EE 11.30 has models for citing to the specific document.

The Editor