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World War I resources at the National Archives at Atlanta

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World War I resources at the National Archives at Atlanta offer valuable historical data. The researcher may be searching for a specific family member in the W.W.I draft cards or a topic such as the aviation and the balloon school. The National Archives at Atlanta is located at 5780 Jonesboro Rd, Morrow, GA 30260. Staff may be contacted by phone: 770-968-2100 or Fax: 770-968-2547 or email: Atlanta.archives@nara.gov. For direction and hours, read the National Archives at Atlanta website, www.archives.gov/atlanta/public/index.html. For resources specific to the Atlanta facility, read about the finding aids and research guides on www.archives.gov/atlanta/finding-aids.html.

The records at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) are arranged by record groups. Every government entity is given a name and number, example Record Group 18, Army Air Forces –Field Installations, 1917-1940. Record Group (RG) 18 includes petitions for commission and admittance to the school, class grades and requests for discharge.

The Selective Service Act, May 18, 1917, established a means for local civilian boards to provide a selective military draft based on all male citizens, not alien enemies, between the ages of 18 and 45. All state boards and headquarters were closed by May 21, 1919. Record Group 163 consists of the Selective Service System records for World War I. The family historian may hold the signed draft card. Atlanta holds the cards for every state. What a genealogical thrill to hold the same card that a family member signed. Search for an individual, surname or by location.

Other textual records in RG 163:

  • 163.2.6 Records relating to delinquents and deserters – final list 1919, for the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN
  • 163.4.1 Records relating to registrants - Draft registration cards for all registrants nationwide, containing vital statistics on each registrant, 1917- 18 (25,120 ft.). Lists of inductees, 1917-19, AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN. Report of the local exemption board, Winston-Salem, NC, 1917-18
  • 163.4.2 Records relating to delinquents and deserters - Index to delinquent and deserter forms, 1917-18, AL and KY Delinquent classification lists, 1917-18, AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN

The National Archives at Atlanta holds the textual records for the Judge Advocate General (Navy) for the Naval Disciplinary Barracks, Port Royal, S.C. Record Group 125 consists of documents that include court martials, correspondence, good conduct records, prisoners’ transfer records and enlisted men’s service records.

Record Group (RG) 18 offers the records of the Army Air Forces (AAF) from 1903 to1964. The bulk of the documents are from 1917 to1947. The Atlanta records, 28, 188 cu. ft., provide information on the training and the administrative support to army air personnel. The Atlanta records are of air fields, aviation schools, and air bases. Candidates request for transfer into the Army Air Forces, telegrams, family identification notice forms, and rejection lists are among the textual records. Check with the area archives with specific requests. Correspondence covers the following schools, posts, and fields:

Aerial Photography School, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 1918; Aerial Photography School, Rochester, NY, 1918; Barron Field, Everman, TX, 1917-21; Bolling Field, Washington, DC, 1918-39; Brindley Field, Commack, Long Island, NY, 1918; Brook Field, San Antonio, TX, 1918-22, 1929-39; Call Field, Wichita Falls, TX, 1917-19; Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, FL, 1918-21; Chapman Field, Miami, FL, 1918-19; Collegiate Balloon School, Macon, GA, 1918; Dorr Field, Arcadia, FL, 1918-19; Henry J. Damm Field, Babylon, Long Island, NY, 1918; March Field, Riverside, CA, 1918-39; Mather Field, Sacramento, CA, 1918-23; Park Field, Millington, TN, 1917-20; Payne Field, West Point, MS, 1918-19; Pope Field, Fayetteville, NC, 1918-1919; Post Field, Fort Sill, OK, 1918-19; School of Military Aeronautics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 1917-19; School of Military Aeronautics, Georgia School of Technology, Atlanta, GA, 1917-18; School of Military Cinematography, Columbia University, New York, NY, 1917-18; Souther Field, Americus, GA, 1918-20; U.S. Army Balloon School, Lee Hall, VA, 1918-20.

Finding original documents should be the goal of family historians. Military records can be a challenge. Before contacting the staff, the family historian must know a few basic details. As the records are neither digitized nor name indexed, the following information will help the staff suggest records to search:

  • Location: City, military installation, harbor
  • Era or Time period: 1890, 1950s, or other dates
  • Activity: military connection such as training, hunting U-boats, drudging a harbor
  • Branch of service or organization: military identifier such as Armed Forces, USMC, private contractor
  • Specific information: name of a unit, name of a ship, person’s name

The National Archives at Atlanta serves as a repository for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee records. The exception to this rule is that the World War I draft cards are available for every state.

Comments or questions contact Selma Blackmon.

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