National Archives at St. Louis

Officer Pay Cards

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) maintains Officer Pay Cards for Army service members from World War I and World War II. The Officer Pay Cards may contain the following information: in-date, out-date, rank and muster out pay. These records are an invaluable source for reconstructing basic service information.

Officer Pay Cards (Army), Holdings:

  • Officer Pay Cards, Army (WWI), 1917 to 1921
  • Officer Pay Cards, Army (WWII), 1940 to 1951

Please Note: These record holdings contain both archival and non-archival records. Records are accessioned into the National Archives, and become archival, 62 years after the service member's separation from the military. Separation from service is defined as discharge, retirement, or death in service based on a rolling date. This is a rolling date; hence, the current year, 2020, minus 62 years is 1958. Records with a discharge date of 1958 or prior are archival and are open to the public. Records with a discharge date of 1959 or after are non-archival and are maintained under the Federal Records Center program. Non-archival records are subject to access restrictions.

What is the difference between archival and Federal (non-archival) records?   Learn more

Access to Officer Pay Cards:

It is essential to collect as much information from old personal papers before submitting a request for records from fire-related collections. Good information helps identify which sources to research for reconstructing basic service data. If an insufficient background is received, the requester will be asked to provide additional information.

If the record is archival (or if you are the veteran, next-of-kin, or authorized representative) you may access the record by:

Access to Federal (non-archival) Records by the General Public:
Without the consent of the veteran or next of kin, the NPRC can only release limited information to the general public. You are considered a member of the general public if you are not the veteran, asking about a veteran who is of no relation to you or seeking information about a veteran who is a relative but for whom you are not the next-of-kin. The next-of-kin is defined as any of the following: the un-remarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, or sister of the deceased veteran.

The type of information releasable is intended to strike a balance between the public's right to obtain information from Federal records, as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the veteran's right to privacy as defined by the Privacy Act. Greater access is granted for archival records.

The type of information releasable to the general public is dependent upon the veteran or next-of-kin's authorization.

  • With the Veteran or Next-of-Kin's authorization: The veteran (or next-of-kin if the veteran is deceased) must authorize the release of any information not available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In some cases, the veteran may already possess military documents that contain the information you are seeking. The authorization must:
    1. be in writing
    2. specify what additional information or copies the NPRC may release to you; and
    3. include the signature of the veteran or next of kin. A sample authorization is included for your review.

Please note: next-of-kin must also provide proof of the death of the veteran, such as a copy of the death certificate, a letter from the funeral home, or a published obituary.

  • Without the Veteran or Next-of-Kin's authorization: the NPRC can only release limited information to the general public. Click here for a list of information available under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Greater access is granted for archival records.

How do I submit a written request for copies of records?

Federal law [5 USC 552a(b)] requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing. Each request must be signed (in cursive) and dated (within the last year). For us to locate military records, please submit as much of the following information, as applies to the type of record being requested: the veteran's complete name as used in service; service number; branch of service; date and place of birth; dates of service - or units or outfits; complete organizational designation (company/battery, battalion, and regiment; squadron, group, wing, etc.); geographical location (camp, base, and country).

To obtain a copy of a record, a requestor may:

Although not mandatory, using the Standard Form (SF) 180, Request About Military Records is the recommended method to send a request for military service information. This form captures all the necessary information to locate a record. Please Note, the veteran's or next-of-kin's signature is not required on a request to obtain copies of archival records.

Records of individuals who left service less than 62 years ago are non-archival and are subject to access restrictions under the Privacy Act.

Copy Fees:

Generally, there is no charge for basic military personnel and health record information provided to veterans, next-of-kin, and authorized representatives from non-archival records. However, the NARA fee schedule authorizes the Agency to collect fees from the public for copies of archival records (44 USC 2116c and 44 USC 2307).

Mailed and Faxed Archival Requests:

A mailed or faxed request requires the purchase of a COMPLETE photocopy of the record.

  • 5 pages or less: $20 flat fee
  • 6 pages or more: $60 flat fee

Visitors to the NPRC Archival Research Room:

There is no fee to request and review an archival record in the Archival Research Room. So too, any number of pages may be copied for a per-page fee.

  • Paper-to-paper copy made by Attendant: $ .75 per page and $2.90 per microform to a paper copy
  • Self service copies are $ .20 per paper to paper copy and $ .50 per microform to paper copy

If you or your designated representative decide to review the records, please notify us in advance of your visit so we can make the necessary arrangements. You will need to speak to an Attendant at 314-801-0850 to schedule an appointment to visit our Archival Research Room.