Research Frequently Asked Questions

Basic Information Medals, Awards, and Non-research Topics Research Questions Technical Questions
 

 

Basic Information

What is the USAHEC?
The USAHEC is the United States Army Heritage and Education Center and is located near Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The USAHEC is the U.S. Army’s preeminent museum and research complex with resources for Soldiers, researchers, and museum visitors. We are dedicated to educating and preserving the legacy of the men and women who have served their nation as Soldiers.
RETURN TO TOP

Are there any fees or admission?
The USAHEC is free to visit during normal business hours. Using the research facility is also free. There is a small fee incurred if you desire to use the USAHEC’s reproduction services during the course of your research.
RETURN TO TOP

Can anyone do research? What is there to research? Can I check out books?
The USAHEC research facility is open to the public, and anyone can use the collections. The USAHEC’s archives are “closed stacks,” so researchers must register and then use the circulation desk to request items from the collections. Researchers are not allowed to check out books or historical materials to take home, but a very limited interlibrary loan system is available.
RETURN TO TOP

What is the difference between USAMHI and the Center of Military History (CMH)?
The USAMHI is the U.S. Army Military History Institute is the directorate of the USAHEC which manages the USAHEC’s library, archive, and research facility. The USAMHI is a repository for unofficial historical materials pertaining to the history of the U.S. Army. CMH, the Center for Military History, manages the Army Historical Program and prepares official histories of the Army. The Chief of Military History is the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff, Army, for all historical matters. The CMH also is responsible for determination of the lineage and honors of U.S. Army units and oversees the U.S. Army museum system. The Center of Military History homepage, www.history.army.mil is an outstanding resource for U.S. Army history. Some examples of the subjects one can research at the CMH are:

  • U.S. Army General Officers
  • Role of Women & Ethnic/Racial Groups in the Army
  • Decorations, Patches and Flags
  • U.S. Army Campaigns & Casualties
  • Integration of the U.S. Army
  • Holidays & Commemorations
  • Army National Guard
  • Birthdays and/or unit days of the U.S. Army Divisions
  • Birthdays of the U.S. Army and its component branches
  • Oaths of enlistment and oaths of office in the U.S. Army
  • "D" signify in D-Day, and the "H" signify in H-Hour
  • Research sources for NIKE Air Defense Missile Sites
  • Origin of the 21-gun salute
  • Difference between artillery shrapnel and shell fragments
  • First Soldier to accomplish a given task, such as entering Berlin in World War II, first killed on D-Day, or who was the "wealthiest," "youngest," or "oldest" Soldier in U.S. Army history?

RETURN TO TOP

Where can I find information about the U.S. Army?
The best place to learn more about the U.S. Army is the Army’s home page, www.army.mil.
RETURN TO TOP

Where can I get information about the other armed services?
The USAHEC maintains very little information on other services. Each military branch’s historical agencies are far better equipped to provide substantive information on them. These agencies can be contacted as follows:
U.S. Navy:
Naval Historical Center Building
57 Washington Navy Yard
Washington, DC 20374
http://www.history.navy.mil/

U.S. Air Force:
Air Force History Office
AFHSO/HOS 200 McChord Street, Box 94
Bolling Air Force Base
Washington, DC 20332-1111
http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/

U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency
600 Chennault Circle
Maxwell Air Force Base, AL 36112-6424
http://www.au.af.mil/au/afhra/

U.S. Air Force Museum
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433-7102
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/

U.S. Marine Corps:
Marine Corps History Division
3079 Moreell Avenue
Quantico, Virginia 22134
http://www.tecom.usmc.mil/HD

U.S. Coast Guard:
U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office
http://www.uscg.mil/history/


RETURN TO TOP

 

Medals, Awards, and Non-research Topics

Where can I find information about medals or awards given to a family member? How do I get replacement medals or awards for myself or a family member? For currently serving members of the U.S. Army, the Military Awards Branch, Human Resources Command, is the proponent. Information concerning procedures to request such information can be found by clicking here. For individuals no longer in the U.S. Army, requests should be directed to the National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138. Information concerning procedures to request such information can be found at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/replace-medals.html.
RETURN TO TOP

Where can I learn about Medal of Honor citations, statistics, and information?
The Center for Military History website is a good place to begin learning about the Medal of Honor as it pertains to the U.S. Army.
RETURN TO TOP

I understand that my unit received a decoration after I left it, how can I verify that information?
The proponent for awards to U.S. Army units is the Military Awards Branch, Total Army Personnel Command.
RETURN TO TOP

Where can I find information on the Cold War Certificate?
The U.S. Army Human Resources Command has information on the Cold War Recognition Program and handles requests for the Cold War Certificate by visiting their Website.


RETURN TO TOP

 

Research Questions

How do I research my relative or a particular Army Soldier?
The information we hold about specific people varies; in most cases it may simply be a name in an index, unit roster, unit yearbook, or unit history. Our biographical files contain miscellaneous information about a limited number of senior leaders, mostly general officers. In extraordinary cases, we hold memoirs, letters, and other personal writings from Soldiers throughout U.S. Army history. The USAHEC does not hold specific information about birth dates, parentage, descendents, medical records, service records, or award orders, except in the instances in which we hold that person's personal papers or a biography exists.
The best way to research an individual’s history is to obtain his or her U.S. Army records from the National Archives and Records Administration or from family members. When you have the Soldier’s basic information (unit name, location where the Soldier was stationed, etc), you can visit the USAHEC collections and use those records as a base for your research. If you need help, the USAHEC’s research historians can guide you through the research process during normal business hours. If you cannot make it to the USAHEC facility, consider submitting an online inquiry . Unofficial inquiries are handled by the USAHEC’s experienced research volunteer corps. Alternatively, you may hire a researcher from the Army Heritage Center Foundation. Official inquiries should call the USAHEC directly.
RETURN TO TOP

I have a relative that was killed during World War II or other conflict and is buried overseas, where can I find information about the cemetery and burial site?
The American Battle Monuments Commission is responsible for the maintenance of permanent American military burial grounds in foreign countries. You can get additional information from the Commission's website by visiting their website.
RETURN TO TOP

How do I find information about what my relative did in the Army? (Trace their route of march, find out where they served, etc.)
You should start by identifying the unit with which your relative served. If you already have that information, then you should utilize the USAHEC collections to check for unit histories or look into the official records created by the unit itself. If you do not know the unit to which they were assigned, then you should try to obtain a copy of your relative's personnel records to determine that information (see below).
RETURN TO TOP

How do I research a particular U.S. Army unit or find a unit history?
Depending on the war or campaign of interest, the information we have on a specific unit varies greatly. The USAHEC is not specifically a repository for official unit records, rosters, or morning reports. Officially, these types of records are held by the National Archives and Records Administration. The USAHEC does have many such items in its inventory, however.
To begin researching a particular unit in the USAHEC collections, visit the online reference bibliographies on the AHCO web page. When you have references to several resources in our collection, visit the the USAHEC facility or submit an inquiry online to further investigate your subject.
RETURN TO TOP

Can you tell me what unit my ancestor served in?
For some time periods, battles, or units, the USAHEC has alphabetical listings of U.S. Army personnel. For the most part, we cannot take a name and place it in a unit. The best resources we have for such a search are for the Civil War; however, even for this war, the reference tools vary greatly from state to state in coverage and quality. We also have alphabetical lists of names of persons who filed for pensions based upon service in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and Regular Army service in the Indian Wars. We do not have any such inventories or lists of personnel from later conflicts, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam or the Gulf War. The best place to start to find such information is the Soldier’s official records from the National Archives and Records Administration. Armed with basic information from a Soldier’s official records, you can make much better use of the USAHEC collections to learn the Soldier’s unit’s history.
RETURN TO TOP

How can I obtain copies of U.S. Army personnel records for myself or for family members?
The USAHEC does not possess individual military service records of Soldiers from any time period.
Records of Soldiers from BEFORE October 1912 (enlisted personnel) and July 1917 (officers) are on file here:
The National Archives and Records Administration
Textual Archives Services Division
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408-0001

Copies of extant pension and service records can be purchased from that agency, as well. Researchers can begin their research by visiting the NARA website.
Records from AFTER October 1912 (for officers) or June 1917 (enlisted) may have been destroyed in a fire in 1973. Any which were not can be found here:
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138

Researchers can begin their research by visiting www.archives.gov/st-louis/
RETURN TO TOP

How do I find official retired U.S. Army unit records?
The USAHEC does not specifically collect official retired U.S. Army unit records, only those incidental to a Soldier’s collection. Official retired U.S. Army unit records can be found at one of these two locations:
Military Reference Branch
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408-0001

OR
Modern Military Records
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
RETURN TO TOP

Where can I find unit rosters and morning reports?
The USAHEC does not specifically collect unit rosters or morning reports. However, the USAHEC collections contain many unit rosters that are incidental to a Soldier’s collection and as part of unit histories, manuscripts, memoirs, and photograph collections. If you are looking for a particular roster or morning report, the official repositories for such records are the same as other retired official Army records (see previous question). Certain unit rosters and morning reports have been detached from the main body of unit records and placed in the custody of the:
National Personnel Records Center
P.O. Box 38757
St. Louis, MO 63138

Please note that researchers must visit the NPRC Archival Research Room or hire a researcher to access these records. See http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/morning-reports-and-unit-rosters.html for more information.
RETURN TO TOP

Where can I find official Army photographs and motion pictures?
The USAHEC holds an extensive collection of photographs and motion pictures, some of which are official. The USAHEC is not the official repository, however, and does not specifically collect such items on an official basis. Official U.S. Army photographs and motion pictures created prior to 1988 are in the custody of:
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, Maryland 20740-6001.

Official photographs and videos pertaining to the U.S. Army after 1987 are in the custody of:
Defense Visual Information Center
1363 Z Street Center
March Air Force Base, CA 92518-2727.

Website: http://www.dodmedia.osd.mil/
RETURN TO TOP

How can I locate a U.S. Army veteran?
The USAHEC does not maintain such information, and the release of personnel information is strictly governed by the Privacy Act. You might find the information you are seeking by placing an advertisement in veterans’ magazines or a posting on veterans’ websites, which have special reunion columns. Another possibility would be to use one of the free "People Finders" search engines available through the internet.
RETURN TO TOP

Where can I get maps?
Maps pertaining to the history of the U.S. Army are found in the National Archives and the Library of Congress. The USAHEC’s map holdings are very limited and can be used only on-site. The USAHEC does not acquire general-purpose maps. For on-line campaign maps of American wars, go to the U.S. Military Academy History Department website.
RETURN TO TOP

Where can I find information about Army casualties?
The Center for Military History (CMH) maintains records pertaining to casualties in conflicts involving the U.S. Army. Visit their website.
RETURN TO TOP

Where can I find information on unit patches and insignia?
The proponent for all heraldic items, flags, patches and insignia is the Institute of Heraldry. Their website is http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/, and their address is:
The Institute of Heraldry
9325 Gunston Road, Room S-112
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5579

Where can I obtain court martial records?
The USAHEC only holds court martial records that are incidental to other collections. For complete and official records concerning courts martial in the U.S. Army, contact:
Office of the Clerk of Court
U.S. Army Judiciary
ATTN: JALS-CCO
901 North Stuart Street
Suite 1200
Arlington, VA 22203-1837
Telephone: (703) 588-7920
RETURN TO TOP

Where are the records of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School?
The USAHEC possesses some material on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which was founded by Richard H. Pratt and was located at Carlisle Barracks from 1879 to 1918. Richard Pratt’s papers are held at Yale University, but the USAHEC holds books, journal articles, files, some of the many newspapers created by students (paper, microfilm, and on CD), school catalogs, 18 boxes of papers (mostly small pamphlets and publications), and photographs. These materials are of only limited use in research concerning specific students.
Other locations of materials about the Indian School include:
The National Archives, where the school's administrative and student records, which include more detailed and comprehensive by-name lists of students, are held in Record Group 75 (Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs). Contact:
Old Military and Civil Records (NWCTB)
National Archives Building
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408-0001

You can find additional materials, including photographs, at the:
Cumberland County Historical Society
21 North Pitt Street
Carlisle, PA 17013
Additional resources can be found at The Library of Dickinson College, Carlisle; The Still Picture Branch of the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; The Division of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
RETURN TO TOP

 

Technical Questions

Why am I having trouble downloading files or photographs, and why does my computer lock up?
Many of the documents in this repository are available as Portable Document Format (.pdf) files or Microsoft Word documents (.doc or .docx). If you do not have the latest Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer, please visit Adobe’s website to download and install the latest version. To open .doc and .docx files, you need Microsoft Word or a word processor which opens such files. If you continue to have issues downloading materials from the USAHEC website, please contact us.
RETURN TO TOP