NARA -- Access to Military Service and Pension Records

Source:  NARA

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository for records of military personnel who have been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard.

For more information about researching military service records, see:

NARA's Genealogy page

An Overview of Records at the National Archives Relating to Military Service


The two main repositories for records relating to military service are:
The National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri.


Washington, D.C.

National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., holds records relating to:

Branch of Service / Dates

Military service performed by persons serving during an emergency and whose service was considered to be in the Federal interest, 1775 - 1902

Regular Army
Enlisted personnel, 1789 - October 31, 1912
Officers, 1789 - June 30, 1917

Enlisted personnel, 1798 - 1885
Officers, 1798 - 1902

Marine Corps
Enlisted personnel, 1789 - 1904
Some officers, 1789 - 1895

Coast Guard
Persons who served in predecessor agencies to the U.S. Coast Guard: the Revenue Cutter Service (Revenue Marine), the Life-Saving Service, and the Lighthouse Service, 1791 - 1919

Confederate States
Persons who rendered military service for the Confederate States government in its armed forces, 1861 - 1865

Veterans Records
Claims files for pensions based on Federal military service, 1775 - 1916 and
Bounty land warrant application files relating to claims based on wartime service, 1775 - 1855


To order military service records from Washington, D.C.:

NATF Form 86.  Copies of military pension claim files can now be ordered online for military service from the American Revolution up to before World War I, as well as through NATF Form 85.


St. Louis, Missouri

National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, holds military personnel files of later military service records.

Branch of Service / Dates

U.S. Army
Officers separated after June 29, 1917
Enlisted personnel separated after October 31, 1912
Note: Many records were destroyed by
fire in the St. Louis Center in 1973.

US Air Force
Officers and enlisted personnel separated after September 24, 1947
Note: Many records were destroyed by
fire in the St. Louis Center in 1973.

US Navy
Officers separated after 1901
Enlisted personnel separated after 1884

US Marine Corps
Officers separated after 1904
Enlisted personnel separated after 1905

US Coast Guard
Officers separated after 1897
Enlisted personnel separated after 1905

U.S. Coast Guard predecessor agencies
Civilian employees of agencies such as Revenue Cutter Service, Lifesaving Service, and Lighthouse Service, retired after 1919.


To order records from St. Louis:

If you are a veteran or next-of-kin of a deceased veteran, use eVetRecs, at (or use the paper form, SF-180). All others, use Standard Form 180. Access to Military Service Records is limited. See Services for Veterans, Next-of-Kin, or the Veteran's Representative for more information.


This page was last updated October 4, 2008.