October 5, 2011
New National Archives at St. Louis Holds "Star Quality" Records
Files of the rich, famous, musical, and athletic included in new facility’s holdings
- NARA Public Affairs Staff
- St. Louis, Wanda Williams
Washington, DC…What do Alex Haley, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Jackie Robinson, and George Patton have in common? All served in the United States military, and all have military personnel files that are open to the public at the new National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) facility in St. Louis, MO.
Several of these original files will be available during a press tour of the new facility on Thursday, October 13, 2011, at 10 a.m.
Old military records are not often associated with glitz, glamour, and intrigue. However, the opening of this new facility offers a chance to spotlight such holdings, including the military records of movie stars, professional athletes, musicians, and writers who served their country in uniform from the late 1800s through the end of the 20th century.
As the nation’s repository for official military personnel records, the National Archives at St. Louis’ NPRC holds more than 56 million military personnel files, including the open files of 500 “Persons of Exceptional Prominence” who served in the military and have been deceased for at least 10 years. This special grouping includes not only celebrated military leaders, Medal of Honor recipients, and U.S. Presidents, but also entertainers, scientists, artists, and athletes—individuals noted for personal accomplishments as well as persons known for their infamous activities.
In 2005, archivists opened the records of 150 individuals who achieved fame or infamy during their lifetimes. Since then, an additional 350 veteran files have been added to this illustrious collection which includes astronauts, sports figures, musicians, Medal of Honor recipients, and individuals at the forefront of social change.
Among these files are some celebrity surprises, including the files of Glenn Miller, Marvin Gaye, Desi Arnaz, Beatrice Arthur, Joe Louis, Charles Lindbergh, Edward R. Murrow, Humphrey Bogart, John William Coltrane, Frank Capra, Hank Greenberg, William Randolph Hearst, Steve McQueen, Jack Swigert, Clark Gable, and Jack Kerouac. (See a complete list [www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/public/persons-of-prominence.html]).
Jackie Robinson is also featured in Documented Rights, a special exhibition at this new facility focusing on the struggle for freedom and civil rights. Documented Rights [www.archives.gov/exhibits/documented-rights/] opens Monday, October 3, 2011, and runs through March 2, 2012. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Military personnel records
Military personnel records are this nation’s most requested records. NPRC staff members respond to 5,000 reference requests a day, more than 1.3 million annually, representing 94 percent of total written requests to the National Archives. The volume is staggering, but access to these records is crucial. Veterans and family members rely on these records to prove service, obtain benefits and to complete family histories.
About the new National Personnel Records Center
The new NPRC includes a modern research room, public meeting spaces, and the storage capacity to hold more than 2.3 million cubic feet of records. The facility holds all Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Organizational and Auxiliary files and Official Personnel Folders (OPF) of former civilian Federal personnel who separated prior to 1973. The new facility will also be home to over 600 NPRC staff and over a dozen other Federal agencies. It includes a state-of-the-art preservation laboratory for records conservation, two large public research rooms and a multi-purpose room for meetings and public outreach.
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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.
In St. Louis, contact Wanda Williams at (314) 801-9313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.