GI trace
Home Ute's Page How To NPRC Local Groups Forum Success Stories

NARA Online Records

NARA has posted the World War II Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File online on the public AAD site:-

The file includes records of approximately 9 million men and women for the World War II era (1938-1946) Army enlistments, which includes Army Air Corps/Army Air Force enlisted and the Women's Army Auxiliary. The file also includes approximately 300,000 records of reservists in the Enlisted Reserve Corps. There are no records for Army officers nor for any Navy personnel.  An Army officer with enlisted service may appear in this listing.

Some of the microfilm that is the source for these digital records is in very poor condition.  As a result, the enlistment records from 212 mircrofilm rolls, or approximately 1.5 million records, could not be scanned and are not included in this file.  A general note in the series description in AAD identifies the range of the serial numbers that are included in the file.  In addition, based upon a comparison of a sample of the digital records with the microfilmed enlistment punchcards, we estimate that approximately five percent of the records (about 450,000 records) may have a scanning error in the name field, and about one percent (about 90,000 records) may have a scanning error in the serial number field.  A larger percentage may have errors in other data fields in these records.  

For all of the above reasons, and in order to explain other unique characteristics of these records, we have prepared a special FAQ sheet (Frequently Asked Questions) for these records.  

Service Number (SN) index instructions:   

It takes a bit of 'drilling down', but it does work.  Note that not all the cards in the SN file were converted to the electronic version and that there are some inaccuracies in the data, but more minor than major errors.  The system has many features and options.  However, if you don't want to read through all the very detailed instructions, here is a quick reference chart to do a basic inquiry.  

1.  Go to the AAD site at

2.  Click on the World War II hyperlink

3.  Click on the 'Search' button next to 'World War II Army Enlistment Records'

4.  Click on the 'Search' button next to 'Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946'

5.  Now you are finally at the SEARCH screen.  Scroll down to area to enter values.  In the NAME field enter the name Clark Gable.  Make sure that the 'Select Search Operators' drop down shows CONTAINS ALL VALUES.  Press the ENTER key or click the SEARCH button.

6.  The SEARCH RESULTS screen appears.  It is much too busy with all the data that it contains, but about halfway down after the word Instructions:, it indicates that your query returned 1 record out of 8,866,786 total records.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see your coded results.

7.  To decode these results into English, click in the box in the first column of the displayed record.  Then click on the "Show Selected Records" button.

8.  On the RECORD DETAIL screen, scroll down to the bottom of the page and there he is, Clark Gable - in detail. 

Start another search:  The easiest way that I've found to begin another search without starting over is to click on the word Search in the string of executed commands in line two at the top of the screen.  (Or, you can also hit the BACK key a couple of times.)  

Try Daniel K. Inoouye or Enlisted Reservist Robert J. Dole if you want more practice.