2 Replies Latest reply on Jan 28, 2021 1:09 PM by Erin Fehr

    Seeking records of Native American Indians in World War I

    Garline Perry Newbie

      Greetings, I am looking for documents (specifically primary historical records) of native Americans that participated in World War I. It would be interesting to see a demographic breakdown of tribe affiliation, citizenship status, policies of the U.S. government relating to native Americans participating in World War I.  Furthermore, I looking to find a social context to see how native American Indians were received both in the service and when they came back from the War. Any information would be truly helpful. Thanks

        • Re: Seeking records of Native American Indians in World War I
          Cara Jensen Tracker

          Dear Ms. Perry,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located a series titled  Card Files Relating to Indians in World War I, 1920 in the Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, (Record Group 75) that may be of use to your research.  The name file is arranged alphabetically by name of Indian or name of agency.  These records are digitized and available using the Catalog. 


          We also located the series titled Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 in the Records of the Selective Service System (World War I) (Record Group 163) that may include a card for your relative. For information about records, please contact the National Archives at Atlanta (RE-AT) via email at atlanta.archives@nara.gov


          The WWI Draft Registration Cards have been digitized by Ancestry and FamilySearch.  There may be a fee for using Ancestry. Instead, please check for access at your local library as many library systems subscribe to these sites, making them free for their patrons.


          In addition, we located two series titled Alphabetical Index to the Central Classified Files, 1907 - 1942 and the Central Classified Files, 1897 - 1951 in Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Record Group 75) that may include information about Native Americans in WWI. For access to these series, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at archives1reference@nara.gov.


          If you have identified individuals for further research, we suggest that you obtain their Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs).  OMPFs and individual medical reports for enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and prior to 1958 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a separate GSA Standard Form 180 for each of them and mail them to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.


          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 RE-AT and RDT1. Also the NPRC is closed except for emergencies. Currently, NPRC will continue servicing requests ONLY associated with medical treatments, burials, and homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter. If your request is urgent, please see Emergency Requests and Deadlines. Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests such as replacement medals, administrative corrections, or records research until NPRC returns to pre-COVID staffing levels. Please check archives.gov/veterans for updates to the NPRC operating hours and status. We apologize for any inconvenience.


          Lastly, we searched online and located a book American Indians in World War I by Thomas Britten that may be useful.


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


          [Information provided by Cody White, Subject Matter Expert]


          • Re: Seeking records of Native American Indians in World War I
            Erin Fehr Newbie

            Hi Garline,


            I have done quite a bit of research in the past 3 years on this very topic. I found the Card Files Relating to Indians in World War I, 1920 (recommended above) to be extremely helpful. However, they don't give a lot of context to the situation of Indians serving in WWI. The cards simply give brief biographical information, such as names, dates, rank, etc.


            Another set of records in RG 120 is helpful in looking at how Indians were perceived by their fellow soldiers and their superiors. I would recommend that you take a look at this: Correspondence, Reports, and Other Records Relating to American Indians Serving with the American Expeditionary Forces, 1917 - 1919.  This file also gives a lot of information on the Choctaw Code Talkers.


            I would also recommend that you take a look at the American Indians page at the World War I Centennial Commission's website, https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/american-indians-in-ww1-centennial-home.html. We (Sequoyah National Research Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock ) worked with primary source materials to create the information found at that site, which might be a helpful place to start. Additionally, if you visit the resources page, there are more books available on the subject that you might be find useful.



            Erin Fehr