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World War I: Service Records and Pension Records

Resources for history and genealogy

Service and Personnel Files

National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis.

NPRC holds Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) and other personnel-related records for both the military and civil services of the United States Government. Records are classified as archival 62 years after the service member's separation from the military.

Reconstruction unit

  • Preservation of damaged materials
  • Obtain Information from alternate sources

Try to find the most information you can before contacting NPRC.

Enlistments

Pensions and Benefits

There were no pensions granted to WWI veterans from the federal government. In 1924, a law was passed to award them bonuses in the form of certificates they could not redeem until 1945.

Laws regarding veterans changed in 1979 to pay pensions.

Bonus March

Genealogy Resources at the University of Delaware Library

Although not aimed at genealogy and family history, the collections of the University of Delaware Library (Morris Library) include materials useful to genealogists and family historians.

This Genealogy Research Guide is provided as a service for genealogists. It presents topics and resources to assist researchers.

The UD Library does not specialize in genealogy and does not have staff responsible for genealogy. Library staff cannot conduct research.

For questions about library resources and holdings, use the Ask the Library service.

For questions about getting research assistance, see the suggestions on the home page of this guide or on the topic/resources pages.

World War I Military Service Cards

In July 1919, the United States Congress passed an act providing that a record of service for each soldier, sailor, and marine who served between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1919, be created and furnished to the adjutant general of the individual states.

Information:

  • name
  • serial/service number
  • race
  • place and date of enlistment or induction
  • place of birth
  • age or date of birth
  • service organization(s) with assignment dates and transfers
  • rank (grade) with date of appointment
  • engagements
  • whether wounded in action, degree and date
  • overseas service dates
  • discharge/separation date and information
  • degree of disability at discharge
  • may include application cards for Victory Medals

Importance:

The service records for most World War I Army veterans were destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center of the National Archives (St. Louis). These records may be the only sources of information.

Also called:

  • Army Service Record Cards
  • Statements of service cards
  • World War I service medal applications (because these are often grouped together)

Locations:

Might be in the Adjutant General's office, the state archives, or a museum. Some are available as microfilm collections in FamilySearch.org or as searchable databases in Ancestry.

  • Delaware -- Delaware Public Archives
  • Georgia -- Online in Ancestry
  • Texas -- Texas Military Forces Museum

Alfred H. Carrigan, Jr. World War I Service cards. Texas Military Forces Museum


Development of service cards:

Identifying Locations for WWI Military Service Cards

There is no one source to identify where the service cards exist.

Some resources:

Delaware Service Cards and Related Materials

Selected record groups at the Delaware Public Archives:

World War I Servicemen Records. Delaware Public Archives Record Group: 1800.050

War history records of Delaware veterans who served from 1917-1919. Records show name and address of serviceman, identification number, date and place of birth, parents’ names and addresses, engagements or battles engaged in, citations of decorations conferred, particulars of death, if applicable, prior service information, current enlistment information, discharge date and identification number, overseas service dates, vital statistics concerning wife and children, if any.

World War I Army Service Record Cards. Delaware Public Archives Record Group: 1800.068

Statements of service cards and applications for victory medals for servicemen who participated in the U.S. Army during World War I. Statements of service include: serviceperson’s name, race, home address, place and date of birth, date and rank when drafted, rank and date of promotion, organizations and staff assignments, military bases stationed, military engagements participated in, wounds received, length of time served overseas, date of honorable discharge, percentage disabled and general remarks. Includes applications for victory medals. Creator: Delaware National Guard