Prologue Magazine

World War I Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages

Summer 1999, Vol. 31, No. 2

Obtaining Copies of World War I Records

For each soldier who died overseas, the Graves Registration Service created a file. These files also contain the records of the Gold Star Mothers. The records are arranged alphabetically by surname. There are no published indexes to the records, and none of the records have been microfilmed. For a list of eligible mothers and widows, see List of Mothers and Widows of American Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines Entitled to Make a Pilgrimage to the War Cemeteries in Europe, 71st Cong., 2d sess., House Document No. 140 (GPO: Washington, DC, 1930). To consult a copy of this publication, contact a Federal Depository Library.

To request the records, a researcher must provide the name of the soldier. If the name is fairly common, the unit and other identifying information such as the date of death, names of immediate family, and place of residence in the United State are also necessary.

After September 1999, information on these and other federal World War I records may be obtained from the Military Textual Reference Branch (NWCTM), National Archives, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. When writing, include a daytime telephone number. Researchers can also consult the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, which is available on the NARA web site through

To request a search of personnel records held at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri, submit a Standard Form 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records" to the address indicated on the form. To request a file, the researcher needs to have the soldier's name and unit. For enlisted personnel, the service number is required. Copies of the form are available from the NPRC at 8600 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132, or from the NARA web site at

The July 12, 1973, fire at the National Personnel Records Center destroyed about 80 percent of the records for army personnel discharged between November 1, 1912, and January 1, 1960. There is no index to the records destroyed; researchers need to submit an SF 180 to find out if a record survived.

See also these related articles: