Many of us have a connection to World War II, either through a family member, friend, or loved one. And though many of our nation’s servicemembers have shared their stories, some never had the chance. A torn document, a washed-out photo—this might be the extent of what’s left of their experiences in one of the most devastating conflicts the world has ever seen. The Museum’s mission is to help preserve these precious memories, and we’ve launched a new research service to help locate your veteran’s WWII story.
Military records are invaluable sources that can provide insights into the lives of friends and family members who served in World War II. Through the WWII Research Services program, our expert staff at the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy can research and customize military personnel service records for any family member or loved one. In addition to our Museum archives, our researchers wade through a myriad of military and civilian files in order to find the detailed information you’ve been searching for—information not easily accessible online. This may include military rank and affiliation, details about training and battles overseas, awarded medals and citations, unit reports and rosters, maps, photographs, casualty reports, textual documents, and electronic records among other details.
Once our researchers acquire these details, they’ll work to translate the story of your loved one in clear terms, providing general as well as detailed biographical information. All you have to do is complete our online form or call our experts to start the process.
Interested clients should contact the Museum’s Institute for the Study of War and Democracy and speak to a historian, who will explain the services listed below.
- To initiate the research, the client must send a nonrefundable, initial payment of $75. From there, our historians will research the veteran in our own archives; the National Archives in both St. Louis, Missouri and College Park, Maryland; and a wide variety of historical databases. This process can take up to two weeks.
- Once all relevant material has been gathered, our historian will present findings to the client and discuss further options.
- If the client chooses to continue research, they will select a package from the list below and submit a payment to begin deeper research and writing. Our historians will take the next three to four weeks to compile all relevant information into a clear, concise biography, which will be sent to the client via insured priority shipping.
Initial Research Fee – $75 + taxes
This initial, nonrefundable fee enables us to start our research to determine what records exist for your veteran.
PLUS – $299+ taxes ($75 research fee included)
If sufficient information about your veteran is available and you choose the PLUS package, we will retrieve documents from various archives and compose a one-to-two page summary of your veteran’s military experience. We will mail these documents via priority mail in a Museum folder and envelope.
PREMIER – $1,995+ taxes ($75 research fee included)
The PREMIER package includes the documents featured in the PLUS package, plus:
- Detailed military biography including enlistment, basic and specialized training, unit history, areas of deployment, and summary of relevant battles or campaigns during the war
- Supplemental material consisting of maps, pictures, charts, etc.
- The biography and selected documents printed, collated, contextualized, and bound professionally, with your choice of a cloth or high-quality leather ($100 additional charge), and mailed with insured postage. Additional copies, perfect for extended family, are available for an added cost.
Do your historians research veterans from conflicts other than World War II?
No, we’re currently only researching WWII veterans. However, if the WWII veteran we are researching served in another conflict and we’ve located documents in their file from those wars, we’ll include them in the biography.
Can you research individuals who worked on the Home Front or in a civilian capacity during World War II?
Not at this time. We currently only research WWII veterans, but we may expand the research program at a later time.
What are the levels of pricing for your research services?
To begin the process of researching your WWII veteran, we’ll need to immediately determine if there are documents available to develop a thorough biography. This initial research requires a $75+ taxes, non-refundable fee. If there are documents available, we’ll retrieve them and summarize the material in a two-page narrative. You will receive the military service documents and the two-page summary for an additional cost of $224+ taxes. If you decide you would like to have the full biography developed, the total cost will be $1,999+ taxes.
How can I pay for these services?
You can pay with a major credit card or a personal check made payable to The National WWII Museum. We do not accept cash.
How long does the complete process take from beginning to end?
Depending on how long it takes to retrieve your veteran’s military records, and how much material we are able to obtain, we estimate the entire process will take between six and eight weeks. It should be noted that if you contact the National Archives directly, it can take them anything between 90 days and 6 months to send the veteran’s personnel files.
Which sources are you using for research?
The most important source we’ll use—and the one that determines if we can move forward with writing a veteran’s story—comes from the Official Military Personnel File or Individual Deceased Personnel File, both of which are housed at the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri. We supplement this material using additional databases, states archives, and military websites from each branch of the service and any other material our professional historians can discover.
I heard files were destroyed at the National Archives in St. Louis. Do you know if my veteran’s file was destroyed and if yes, can you still research my veteran?
In 1973, a devastating fire destroyed numerous military and federal files at the National Archives. This is where our initial research will help determine what is still available. We are also sometimes able to write a full-fledged veteran’s biography using other archival resources or documents the family gives us.
Can you use materials I have to help write my veteran’s story?
Absolutely! During our initial contact, we’ll ask if you have any available materials that can be used in the biography. We’ll then work with you to transfer a copy of those items electronically so they can be incorporated into the story.
Will I be able to choose the binding for my veteran’s story?
Those who choose our PLUS package will receive our findings in an attractive cloth, hardcover, bound book. However, you can choose a more specialized leather cover for an additional charge. These are especially valuable for a network of relatives or friends.
Can I order more than one copy of my veteran’s story?
Yes, you can order as many as you would like for an additional cost per book.