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If you have served in the military or worked for the Federal Government, your personnel file is held at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri. More than 34 million files are held in this facility, filling 2.3 million cubic feet of records on 385,000 shelves. There are 6.2 billion feet of paper in the military records alone.
About 600 full-time staff work in St. Louis. In 2011, the NPRC received 1,093,522 written requests for records, about 3,000 requests per day. They have received about 889,283 so far in 2012.
This part of the National Archives provides vital services to veterans. Former servicemen and women can use the documentation in their files to receive veterans benefits (form DD-214), help with replacement medals, or receive a military burial.
Not all the records in the NPRC are held in the permanent archives. Records with a discharge date of 1950 or earlier are archival records and are open to the public. But records from 1951 are non-archival, so they are restricted for privacy. Usually only the veteran or the next-of-kin can access these files.
For historians, each pre-1950 archival records is a possible treasure chest. The Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) of Presidents George H.W. Bush and John F. Kennedy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Ted Williams, and Jackie Robinson are in these holdings.
“The OMPFs hold the stories of millions of individuals who defended our nation throughout the many wars of the 20th century. They contain such documents as enlistment contracts, duty locations, performance evaluations, award citations, training records, and the especially important Report of Separation (DD Form 214 or earlier equivalent),” writes Norman Eisenberg in “20th-Century Veterans’ Service Records: Safe, Secure—and Available.”
For genealogists, military files can hold valuable information: military service records, military pension records, and bounty land warrant application files. Sometimes the files hold detailed stories of wartime events.
Looking for a family’s military or civilian records? You can request copies of files in writing to be sent to you, or you can make an appointment to visit the research rooms and view the original files in person.
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The National Archives is glad to announce that you may now connect with us on Google+! Come on over and follow us for exciting posts about news, exhibits, research, genealogy tips, resources, citizen archivist updates and so much more.
Google+ is an online social community that aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. With over a million users already, Google+ allows users to participate in events, video chat in a hangout, and subscribe to circles with information that is most interesting to them. The National Archives is ready to start sharing with you, and we’d love to offer you circles to join that will streamline the content we are posting. To see information in your news feed about a specific circle, all you need to do is click on the cover photo, and +1 the circle you’d like to join.
Are you interested in public programs and events in DC or from around the country? Would you just like information about research, like record releases, genealogy events, or citizen archivist initiatives? Or are you really looking for information for teachers to use in their lesson plans and classrooms? Let us know on Google+!
We’re excited about Google+ all over the National Archives, and that includes the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. In fact, he’s so excited, he will be hosting our very first hangout! Do you have a question for the Archivist that you’re dying for him to answer? Here’s your chance to be heard! Send your questions to the Archivist through Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or the blogs, and include the #AskAOTUS hashtag. We’ll compile the questions and pass them on to the Archivist, who will answer as many as he can during the hangout. If you can’t think of a question before the hangout, join us anyway, and continue to tweet us your questions with the #AskAOTUS hashtag throughout the session. Ask him anything from what his favorite records are to what a day in his office is like. Or maybe you are interested in what book he’s reading or his favorite museum in DC (besides the National Archives, of course!). We’ll keep you posted on the date and time of the hangout, so circle the National Archives on Google+ for our latest updates!
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