2 Replies Latest reply on Sep 22, 2021 12:44 PM by Guohui Jiang

    Why so many female aviation cadets in WWII Army Enlistment Records?

    Guohui Jiang Adventurer

      Hi, I am using the MARA WWII Army Enlistment Records to do some research. I find some interesting patterns that are hard to comprehend:


      For those with grade "Aviation Cadet", 34,984 (48.5%) are from Women's Army Corps (WAC) by the variable "Component of the Army"; at the same time, only 6 (0.01%) are from Women's Army Corps by the variable "Branch". It means one person is categorized as WAC by "Component" but not as WAC by "Branch". I also using serial number's first digit to infer WAC. By this blog (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/how-to-decode-a-wwii-army-serial-number/ ), WAC enlisted women's serial number starts with "A". This inference method gives the similar level implied by the "component" variable. If the "component" variable is more reliable, now the question is why it has so many women aviation cadets during WW2? by this link (https://cafriseabove.org/the-wasp/ ), only 1,830 women were accepted into pilot training during WW2. But the 'component' + "grade" tell me it has 34,984 female aviation cadets. How does this discrepancy happen? Is it any way to understand this result? Thanks for your attention! I am looking forward to your comments.

        • Re: Why so many female aviation cadets in WWII Army Enlistment Records?
          Rachael Salyer Ranger

          Dear Guohui Jiang,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          If you have not done so already, we suggest that you review the description of the World War II Army Enlistment Records available online via Access to Archival Databases (AAD), which contains the serial number ranges A-001219 (WAC) through 1-814-015 (WAC) and others for non-WAC enlistments. Please note that known gaps exist in these records. The World War II Army Enlistment Records FAQs may also be helpful for your research. A description of the World War II Army Enlistment Records is also available in the National Archives Catalog.


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 3 series of decimal files in the Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1905-1981 (Record Group 407) that include information about aviation cadets in the 1940s that might be useful for your research. We also located 2 series of decimal files in the Records of U.S. Army Forces in the China-Burma-India Theaters of Operation (Record Group 493), 2 series of decimal and correspondence files in the Records of Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, United States Army (World War II) (Record Group 498), and 1 series of decimal files in the Records of Mediterranean Theater of Operations, United States Army (Record Group 492) that also contain information about aviation cadets. These records have not been digitized. For access to and information about these and similar records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at archives2reference@nara.gov.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          Next, we located the History of the Army Air Forces Basic-Advanced Flying School in the Records of the U.S. Military Academy (Record Group 404) that may be of interest to you. Please contact the United States Military Academy Archives (an affiliated archives) (XUSMA) at  Library@westpoint.edu for assistance with these records.


          Plus, the Department of Defense’ publication We Wanted Wings: A History of the Aviation Cadet Program contains information about aviation cadet training that may relate to the information you are researching. In addition, the National Library of Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has digitized the Aviation Cadet Qualifying Examination from 1942, and the Air Force Historical Research Agency has made the Initial Selection of Candidates for Pilot, Bombardier, and Navigator Training from 1943 available online as well. These or similar documents may clarify how individuals became aviation cadets.


          Finally, the US Army Center of Military History has several online resources related to aviation cadets. We suggest that you contact them or the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center for further assistance.


          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

            • Re: Why so many female aviation cadets in WWII Army Enlistment Records?
              Guohui Jiang Adventurer

              Thanks, Rachael!


              I think I've figured it out. There are two variables in WWII Army Enlistment Records telling the military grade: grade (code) and grade (alpha designation). It turns out grade (code) is not reliable.


              I have used two ways to conclude that grade (code) is not reliable:


              (1) no female military aviation cadets during WWII.

              When I focus on enlistees whose service number starts with "A", by grade (code) it has 26.65% aviation cadets, but the number is 0 by grade (alpha designation). It kinds of indicates that grade (code) is problematic.


              (2) aviation cadets should belong to the Air Corps

              For aviation cadets identified by grade (code), 50% of them are in the Air Corps by branch (alpha designation);

              however, if you identify aviation cadets by grade (alpha designation), the share is 97.69%. It is another evidence that grade (code) is problematic.


              Now if I use grade (alpha designation) variable to identify aviation cadets, I will not encounter the issue of "too many female aviation cadets."