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Selected Finding Aids Related to NARA's World War II Holdings

This page provides links and citations to finding aids published and/or compiled by NARA related to its extensive holdings on World War II.

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Introduction

The holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration are crucial to understanding the many facets of World War II: military and political; economic and technological; social and cultural. The military and civilian agencies involved directly or indirectly in World War II, and wartime Presidents Roosevelt and Truman (as well as future occupants of the White House), produced an enormous amount of historical records. Altogether they add up to tens of thousands of cubic feet.

These records include textual documents; maps and plans; photographs; posters and other graphic works; motion pictures and sound recordings; and electronic records.

These holdings are preserved at NARA facilities nationwide.

NARA makes finding aids to help you identify records relevant to your research. Some finding aids are available on-line, while others are available only in printed form (free or for a fee). For guidance on conducting research at NARA, please review the page Research at the National Archives.

  • Online Information: Many of the links below will take you to the complete on-line text of the NARA finding aid -- that is, a guide, reference information paper, index, inventory, select list, or special list.

  • Ordering Publications Not Online: If the full publication is not available on-line, the link will be to a description of the publication and how to order it from NARA. To obtain copies of those finding aids for which no on-line version is currently provided, or for a printed version of those that are on-line, please review information presented on the NARA Publications page.

    For free publications, call 202-501-5235, or fax 202-501-7170. To order a publication for which a fee is charged, call 1-800-234-8861 or 301-713-6800 in the Washington D.C. area, or fax 301-837-0483. Many of these finding aids may also be available for your review at a local library or through inter-library loan.

  • In addition to links to finding aids devoted exclusively to World War II materials, there are important links below to descriptive resources with broader chronological coverage (for example, the Online Catalog; and chapters from the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States) that can be searched for World War II-related references.

For a quick glance at selected war-related items from NARA holdings, see NARA's Digital Classroom and The Online Exhibit Hall sites.

Other NARA on-line materials related to research on World War II include:

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Records Documenting Military Service and Military Personnel Casualty Records

  • For information about access to military service records of World War II, please review the information About Military Service Records and Official Military Personnel Files . There is also a collection of Other Helpful Sites for information about military service and veterans information.

  • Military personnel casualty lists are available through the Online Catalog.

    Available on-line are:
    • State Summaries of War Casualties for the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard during World War II, 1946
      • Enter the exact phrase War Casualties with curly braces and the unit of service in the Keywords box. For example: {War Casualties}.
    • World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel, 1946
      • Enter the exact phrase Honor List with curly braces and the unit of service in the Keywords box. For example: {Honor List}.
    All 101 volumes of these two documents have been digitized. The documents list name, serial number, grade and cause of death of World War II casualties for each State, including U.S. Territories and Possessions. Navy volumes list residence of next-of-kin; Army volumes do not list residence.

  • World War II Prisoners of War Punchcards have been converted by NARA to a contemporary electronic format. For information about those records see the Electronic Records Related to WWII page. For further information about the World War II Prisoners of War Punchcards electronic records, or to request an automated search of them, contact the Center for Electronic Records via cer@nara.gov. Please include a telephone number and mailing address with your request.

  • Reference Information Papers also have information on World War II military personnel records, casualty records, and records related to prisoners of war and missing in action:
    • Reference Information Paper 80. Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II: American Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees, comp. by Ben DeWhitt and Jennifer Davis Heaps (1992), 84 pp.
    • Reference Information Paper 82. Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II: American Military Casualties and Burials, comp. by Ben DeWhitt (1993), 61 pp.
    • Reference Information Paper 104. Presidential Libraries Holdings Relating to Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, comp. by Dale C. Mayer (1998), 55 pp. [n.b. Part II].

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Finding Aids Across NARA Relevant to World War II Records

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Presidential Materials

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Federal Records Holdings

This section has links to relevant chapters from the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States (1995) and related inventories, preliminary inventories, and other related record group specific finding aids. The Guide includes references to federal records located in NARA's Washington D.C. Area facilities and Regional Records Services facilities. For more detailed information about the particular holdings located in NARA's Regional Records Services Facilities, and how to contact them, link to the region specific guides to holdings made available on their individual homepages. This section also allows for inclusion of and links to related inventories, preliminary inventories, and other related finding aids, which will be added as those materials are converted to an electronic form.

A majority of the textual (paper) records identified in the Guide are serviced by the Textual Archives Services Division, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, telephone 301-837-3510, e-mail via: inquire@nara.gov. Please contact that unit directly for further information about specific records series. For further information about special media records identified in these record group specific resources, please refer to the appropriate section of Federal Records: Special Media Records listing below for contact information.

Military Agency Record Groups: Following is a select listing of the military agencies with special prominence during World War II. For a listing of all agencies for which NARA has records, please consult the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States.

  • Adjutant General's Office (1917-), RG 407
  • Air Force (Air Staff), Headquarters U.S. (1934-89), RG 341
  • Air Force, Office of the Secretary of the (1928-66), RG 340
  • Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations, U.S. (1900-85), RG 342
  • Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II (1907-66 (bulk 1942-54)), RG 331
    • Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP).
      Series descriptions are available through the Online Catalog.
      • Enter supreme commander allied powers in the keyword box.
    • Army, Office of the Secretary of the (1903-80), RG 335
    • Army Air Forces (1903-64), RG 18
    • Army Coast Artillery Districts and Defenses, U.S., 1901-1942 (1901-50), RG 392
    • Army Operational, Tactical, and Support Organizations (World War II and Thereafter), US, 1942- (1917-93), RG 338
    • Army Continental Commands, U.S., 1920-1942 (1871-1945), RG 394
    • Army Ground Forces, Headquarters (1916-54), RG 337
    • Army Overseas Operations and Commands, U.S., 1898-1942 (1870-1942), RG 395
    • Army Service Forces, Headquarters (1939-46), RG 160
    • Army Staff (1903-92), RG 319
    • Chaplains, Office of the Chief of (1902-64), RG 247
    • Chemical Warfare Service (1917-63), RG 175
    • Chiefs of Arms (1878-1943), RG 177
    • Coast Guard, U.S.(1785-1988), RG 26
    • Defense, Office of the Secretary of (1921-94), RG 330
    • Defense Intelligence Agency (1920-84), RG 373
    • Defense Nuclear Agency (1943-62), RG 374
    • Defense Transportation, Office of (1934-52), RG 219
    • Engineers, Office of the Chief of (1789-1988), RG 77
    • Finance (Army), Office of the Chief of (1792-1942), RG 203
    • Inspector General (Army), Office of the (1814-1962), RG 159
    • International Military Agencies (1941-81), RG 333
    • Interservice Agencies (1916-73), RG 334
    • Joint Army and Navy Boards and Committees (1903-47), RG 225
    • Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. (1941-78), RG 218
    • Joint Commands (1945-66), RG 349
    • Judge Advocate General (Army), Office of the (1692-1981), RG 153
    • Judge Advocate General (Navy), Office of the (1799-1943), RG 125
    • Marine Corps, U.S.(1775-1971), RG 127
    • Marine Inspection and Navigation, Bureau of (1774-1973), RG 41
    • Maritime Administration (1939-76), RG 357
    • Maritime Commission, U.S.(1917-50), RG 178
    • Maritime Labor Board (1938-42), RG 157
    • Medicine and Surgery, Bureau of (1812-1975), RG 52
    • Military Academy, U.S. (1800-1993), RG 404
    • National Guard Bureau (1822-1963), RG 168
    • Naval Academy, U.S.(1836-1991), RG 405
    • Naval Districts and Shore Establishments (1784-1981), RG 181
    • Naval Electronic Systems Command (1929-88), RG 345
    • Naval Observatory, U.S. (1840-1943), RG 78
    • Naval Operating Forces (1849-1980), RG 313
    • Naval Operations, Office of the Chief of (1875-1985), RG 38
    • Naval Personnel, Bureau of (1798-1970), RG 24
    • Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library (1691-1945), RG 45
    • Naval Research, Office of (1941-70), RG 298
    • Navy, General Records of the Department of the, 1798-1947 (1804-1958), RG 80
    • Navy, General Records of the Department of the, 1947- (1941-81), RG 428
    • Occupation Headquarters, U.S., World War II (1923-72), RG 260
    • Ordnance, Bureau of (1818-1967), RG 74
    • Ordnance, Office of the Chief of (1797-1968), RG 156
    • Provost Marshal General, Office of the, 1941-(1920-75), RG 389
    • Quartermaster General, Office of the (1774-1985), RG 92
    • Ships, Bureau of (1794-1972), RG 19
    • Signal Officer, Office of the Chief (1860-1982), RG 111
    • Strategic Bombing Survey, U.S. (1928-47), RG 243
    • Strategic Services, Office of (1919-48), RG 226
    • Supplies and Accounts (Navy), Bureau of (1885-1967), RG 143
    • Surgeon General (Army), Office of the (1775-1959), RG 112
    • Theaters of War, U.S., World War II (1939-48), RG 332
    • War, Office of the Secretary of (1791-1947), RG 107
    • War Assets Administration (1939-54), RG 270
    • War Ballot Commission, U.S. (1943-46), RG 230
    • War Communications, Board of (1930-47), RG 259
    • War Department General and Special Staffs (1860-1952), RG 165
    • Yards and Docks, Bureau of (1784-1963), RG 71

  • Civilian Agency Record Groups: Following is a select listing of the civilian agencies with special prominence during World War II. For a listing of all agencies for which NARA has records, please consult the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States.
    • Aeronautics, Bureau of (1911-65), RG 72
    • Alien Property, Office of (1878-1965), RG 131
    • American Battle Monuments Commission (1918-69), RG 117
    • American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historical Monuments in War Areas (1942-47), RG 239
    • Bituminous Coal Division (1937-43), RG 222
    • Central Intelligence Agency (1894-1986), RG 263
    • Civilian Defense, Office of (1940-45), RG 171
    • Community War Services, Office of (1940-48), RG 215
    • Congested Production Areas, Committee for (1943-45), RG 212
    • Contract Settlement, Office of (1941-55), RG 246
    • Displaced Persons Commission (1948-52), RG 278
    • Emergency Management, Office for (1940-44), RG 214
    • Executive Office of the President, Organizations in the (1863-1956), RG 429
    • Foreign Assets Control, Office of (1941-46), RG 265
    • Foreign Assistance Agencies, U.S., 1948-1961, RG 469
    • Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service (1940-47), RG 262
    • Foreign Economic Administration (1939-47), RG 169
    • Foreign Records Seized, National Archives Collection of (1675-1983), RG 242
    • Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State (1788-1964), RG 84
    • High Commissioner for Germany, U.S. (1944-55), RG 466
    • Housing Expediter, Office of the (1941-53), RG 252
    • Labor (War Food Administration), Office of (1941-47), RG 224
    • National Production Authority (1941-53), RG 277
    • National Resources Planning Board (1931-43), RG 187
    • National Security Agency/Central Security Service (1917-85), RG 457
    • National War Labor Board (World War II) (1941-47), RG 202
    • National Youth Administration (1934-45), RG 119
    • Petroleum Administration for War (1935-48), RG 253
    • Petroleum Administrative Board (1924-42), RG 232
    • Philippine War Damage Commission (1945-51), RG 268
    • Price Administration, Office of (1940-49), RG 188
    • Public Housing Administration (1932-76), RG 196
    • Public Works Administration (1933-49), RG 135
    • Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (1935-55), RG 323
    • Retraining and Reemployment Administration (1944-47), RG 244
    • Rural Electrification Administration (1934-73), RG 221
    • Scientific Research and Development, Office of (1939-50), RG 227
    • Selective Service System, 1940- (1926-71), RG 147
    • Shipbuilding Stabilization Committee (1940-47), RG 254
    • Smaller War Plants Corporation (1940-48), RG 240
    • Solid Fuels Administration for War (1937-48), RG 245
    • State, General Records of the Department of (1756-1979), RG 59
    • Surplus Marketing Administration (1933-43), RG 124
    • Temporary Committees, Commissions, and Boards (1893-1993), RG 220
    • U.S. Government, General Records of the (1778-1992), RG 11
    • Veterans Administration (1773-1976), RG 15
    • Wage Adjustment Board (1941-47), RG 236
    • Wage and Hour Division (1922-75), RG 155
    • Wage and Salary Stabilization Boards of the Economic Stabilization Agency (1790-1990), RG 29
    • War Information, Office of (1926-51), RG 208
      • Special List 11: List of Photographs Made by the Office of War Information at the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, 1945 (1953, RG 208).
    • War Manpower Commission (1936-47), RG 211
    • War Mobilization and Reconversion, Office of (1941-47), RG 250
    • War Production Board (1918-47), RG 179
    • War Relocation Authority (1941-47), RG 210
    • War Risk Litigation, Bureau of (1924-46), RG 190
    • War Shipping Administration (1941-50), RG 248
    • War Trade Board (1910-42), RG 182
    • White House Office (1814-1977), RG 130
    • Work Projects Administration (1922-44), RG 69
    • World War II War Crimes Records, National Archives Collection of (1933-50), RG 238
  • Congressional Record Groups:
    The records of Congress are kept in NARA by the Center for Legislative Archives. Most of these records remain in the ownership of the U.S. Congress and have unique rules of access.

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Federal Records: Special Media Records

For general information about the content and location of NARA's holdings of special media records, please reference the relevant section of the By Format section of the NARA Research Room homepage. Note that special media records may be found in many NARA facilities including the Regional Record Services Facilities and Presidential Libraries. Please contact those units directly for further information about available holdings.

Photographs and Graphic Materials

The following finding aids include references to NARA's photographs and graphic works and located at the National Archives at College Park. For further information about the photographic records identified in these finding aids, contact the Special Media Archives Services Division-Still Pictures, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, telephone 301-837-0561, e-mail: stillpix@nara.gov.

Subject Guides:

  • Guide to the Holdings of the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives, compiled by Barbara Lewis Burger (1990); INDEX

  • "War & Conflict: Selected Images from the National Archives, 1765--1970," edited by Jonathan Heller (1990). (Out of Print) To retrieve 1,350 of the digitized photographs that appear in War & Conflict:
    • Go to the Online Catalog, and enter 'War and Conflict' in the Keywords box.

    Note that these images relate to various wars documented in the holdings of the Still Picture Records LICON, Special Media Archives Services Division, not just World War II.

    Search the Online Catalog

Reference Information Papers:

Special Lists:

  • Special List 11: List of Photographs Made by the Office of War Information at the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, 1945 (1953, RG 208).

Select Audiovisual Records Publications:

Motion Picture Films and Sound and Video Recordings

The following finding aids include references to NARA's motion picture films and sound and video recordings and located at the National Archives at College Park. For further information about the motion picture, sound, and video records identified in these finding aids, contact the Special Media Archives Services Divison-Motion Pictures, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, telephone 301-837-0526, e-mail: mopix@nara.gov.

Cartographic and Architectural Records

The following finding aids include references to NARA's cartographic and architectural records and located at the National Archives at College Park. For further information about the cartographic and architectural records identified in these finding aids, contact the Special Media Archives Services Division-Cartographic, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, telephone 301-837-3200, e-mail: carto@nara.gov.

  • Subject Guides
    • Guide to Cartographic Records in the National Archives, comp. by Herman R. Friis et al., (rev. by Charlotte M. Ashby et al., 1971).
  • Reference Information Papers
    • Reference Information Paper 79. World War II Records in the Cartographic and Architectural Branch of the National Archives, comp. by Daryl Bottoms (1992), 87 pp.

Electronic Records

The following finding aids include references to NARA's electronic records and located at the National Archives at College Park. For further information about the electronic records identified in these finding aids, contact the Center for Electronic Records, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, telephone 301-837-0470, e-mail: cer@nara.gov.


Other Resources

  • Most of NARA's finding aids are not yet online
  • Send us your request.

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