The pilots doughboys with mules pilots in dress uniforms Mule Rearing African American Soldiers 1 Riveters gas masks African American Officers
Statistics Booklet

Research Desk 


Here is where you will find listings of the resources we use in examining open cases and discovering information on the Doughboy MIA's. We encourage those who wish to volunteer time in researching individuals or actions to contact us and see what we are in need of help with. Those who have information and/or material that you believe would be useful here are also encouraged to contact us. Take note that accuracy is very important in this work. In the event it may become possible to identify a set of remains or a grave location, we will only have one shot at presenting a case - a case which MUST be based in solid, incontrovertible fact from accepted and accurate sources. Take a cue from a portion of our mission statement:

"Only accurate and period paperwork/research materials are useful in the administration of our goals. It will only be possible to obtain the information needed and to provide accurate accounting for the U.S. Missing in Action of the Great War using authentic government and official documentation. Only authentic and official documentation will make it possible to prove locations, time frames and substantiate deaths and burials of individuals and the information concerning the individuals themselves. There is no place in this project for anything other than 100% accurate and authentic sources."



Since the devastating 1973 fire at the St. Louis National Archives and Research Administration (NARA) center destroyed over 85% of all army personnel files from 1912 through about 1960 (though officer, naval and Marine Corps records went unscathed), tracking First World War soldiers can be a hit and miss affair, so looking under every other rock possible is a must. When tracking an MIA one must have some basic information to start with: The best starting place is knowing where the individual entered the service from. You can get this information from his draft registration card, most of which are available for viewing at several genealogy sites online. With this it is possible to go to the county records office of his induction/draft registration county and request a copy of his Statement of Service card. These cards were kept by the county draft office and most often now are found on microfilm or microfiche. Each card lists dates of entrance, transfer from/to units, and discharge. They also list what units the individual served with and when he went overseas and give full legal name and service (serial) number; both of which can be invaluable. If the individual enlisted, there may not be a draft card, but usually the Statement of Service card will be on file.
 
Perhaps the most important piece of research into a casualty is his Burial Case File (BCF). These are held at the National Personnel Records Center at St. Louis NARA and were not involved in the 1973 fire, despite some conjecture. Each US serviceman who died in service during the Great War had a BCF opened on them. These files often carry much useful information concerning the disposition of a set of remains, following them from battlefield grave to permanent grave and usually contain a statement(s) by the last person(s) to see them alive or who witnessed their death. They also contain information about whether the body was returned to the states or if the mother or widow participated in the Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages in the early 1930’s.  In the case of an MIA, the file follows the individual until disappearance. Remains that were recovered with no ID also had a BCF opened on them. In this case they were assigned a ‘U’ number (for Unknown) in place of a name, generally a four digit number such as U-1234, and the file opened for them under that number. Once the remains were identified the ’U number’ was cancelled and all paperwork from that file notated with the individuals name and information and amalgamated into that man’s BCF. While the Burial Case Files are readily available, thus far the ‘U files’ for the WW1 Unknowns have not been located. Note: it is strongly recommended that anyone wanting copies of BCF’s go through a reputable professional independent researcher to obtain these. Requests made directly to NARA for these can take an extremely long time to fill. The folks over there are very busy most times and are nearly always backlogged on work. We at Doughboy MIA can recommend reputable sources that we work with who will help you, though their services are not free.

Additional tools we use are here listed below. As time goes on we will be posting access to these files for downloading from here on our site uploaded to this site. Take note however: some of these files are VERY LARGE and your system could have difficulty in downloading them. Contact us here for more information.  

 

Casualties on the whole, and how they were handled, is laid out in these official government documents:

  • History of the Graves Registration Service (in 3 volumes). Official set covering the time frame from the beginning of our arrival in France, through the years of collecting and concentrating remains. Well illustrates the army's methods. An invaluable source.
  • Committee on Foreign Affairs - Authorizing the Appointment of a Commission to Remove Bodies of Deceased... From Foreign Countries to the United States  and Defining its Duties and Powers - 1919
  • A Report to the Secretary of War on American Military Dead Overseas - 1920
  • Location of Graves and Disposition of Bodies of American Soldiers Who Died Overseas - 1920
  • Hearings Before the Committee on Military Affairs - Return of Body of Unknown American Who Lost His Life During the World War - 1921

In researching an action in which a man went missing, there are many sources to use. The first place to turn should be that divisional history of the individuals unit, and the regimental (and company) history, if those are available. However, for fairly detailed movement of an individual combat unit down to company level, the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Summary of Operations in the World War for each division is perhaps the best. These works were put out by the ABMC in the early 1940’s, are well researched and accurate and the original editions contain copies of the battle maps used by the army during the war for each battle or serious action the division was involved in. Some, like 2nd Division Summary of Operations in the World War, are thick and contain many maps because the 2nd Division were busy boys in France. Others, such as the 92nd Division Summary of Operations (who saw far less combat) are not as thick. Nevertheless, these books are a tremendous source for pinpointing just where something went down. We do have copies of nearly all of them, though the maps cannot be included in any downloads or file transfers due to their size.


For identifying a unit – any unit – the Order of Battle of United States Land Forces in the World War is the only source to go to. All five volumes.

Searching something medical, like where a battalion aid station or base hospital was? Then your primary go-to source is The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War. This tremendous 15 volume set presents the entire medical department story both here and Over There, sometimes in nauseating detail.

Need primary source A.E.F. information? Start with the 17 volume set The United States Army in the World War 1917-1919. Another of those massive chronicles put out by the government that contains tons of information that made the A.E.F. what it was, including general orders and battle orders. This is perhaps the single most valuable, and yet overlooked, source concerning American forces in WW1.

For researching aviators, we have a full listing of all U.S. Air Service losses, where they are buried (if overseas) and those listed on the Walls of the Missing. In this we also suggest searching out the squadron history of the subjects unit, as well as The US Air Service in WW1; a tremendous 4 volume set.

We also have the massive chronicle which lists all U.S. naval losses in the World War, often with details on their death or disappearance. This includes all U.S. Coast Guard losses as well. All U.S. Marine Corps losses in the World War are covered in another, separate volume, also in our possession.

Available through us as well, though not yet in electronic form, is a 1919 Quartermaster Corps publication listing all known A.E.F. MIA’s at the time. The copy we have belonged to a Graves Registration officer and contains many names crossed out as they were located and identified. It also does not contain the names of those who would later be listed as missing from temporary cemeteries that had not yet been evacuated. Nevertheless, it is a valuable window in time which lists a man’s full unit and accurate rank. If you would like us to look someone up in it, let us know and we will. Because of the age, fragility and nature of the publication each page will have to be photographed individually for an electronic form to be created and right now time is not on our side for that project.

Yet another valuable tool to finding general information concerning individuals is state and county chronicles. There were – literally – thousands of county chronicles produced all over the country; as in Such and Such County in the World War, or With the Colors From Such and Such County. These contain information on all men who entered the service from that county and usually have a picture of the individual as well. Most have a special ‘roll of honor’ section in the front as well for those who went but did not return. It would be impossible to have all of these to hand, so the best bet for searching these out is to talk to that county’s historical society, or that state’s historical society. Worldcat and interlibrary loan are also valuable in locating copies.

State chronicles are sometimes available as well and often these are just as detailed – and sometimes even more so – than county chronicles. Below are the state chronicles we have gathered together for research thus far. You can view or download them here as .pdf files. WARNING: some of these files are very large and may be cumbersome for slow internet users or on mobile devices.
  • Utah in the World War (view/download 27.3Mb Click Here)
  • Roster of Vermont 
  • Roster of Maine vol. 1
  • Roster of Maine vol. 2
  • Connecticut Casualties
  • South Carolina Casualties
  • Massachusetts Casualties
  • Indiana Casualties
  • Colorado Casualties
  • New Mexico Casualties
  • New York Casualties
  • Oregon Casualties
  • California Casualties
  • Kansas Casualties
  • Rhode Island Casualties

We also have copies of the very rare Georgia State Honor Roll book, the Wisconsin’s Gold Star List book, and the Nevada's Golden Stars book, all in hard copy only at this time. Contact us for details in these.

If you believe you have any additional research materials that will help us in our quest to commemorate and remember these men, or which may help us locate or identify them, please contact us.

Knowledge of America's soldier dead and our handling of them as a nation can be gained in these books, which we strongly recommend to anyone who shares or passion:

  • Soldiers of the Great War (3 volumes) - Soldiers Publication Association, 1920. This is a tremendous work which purports to list every soldier that died in the service to his country during the World War. It only fails in this task sporadically and then only because it came out too close to the end of the war. A very useful and moving aspect of this set is that they contain something over 30,000 photographs of the men.
  • Bodies of War - Lisa Budreau, 2010. What Ms. Budreau has done in this outstanding work is tell the story of American dead in WW1 and the politics that surrounded them and their commemoration for the very first time in a fully comprehensive way. It is, by far, the most authoritative work on the subject, rivaling even the History of the Graves Registration Service. She gets a shade too academic at times, which can be a bit tedious, but that does not diminish from the stellar quality of this work. This is a must read for our subject to hand.
  • The Foreign Burial of American War Dead: A History - Chris Dickon, 2011. A full accounting for our soldier dead who remain on foreign shores. A wonderful and very caring read which covers our boys in France AND the North Russia Expeditionary Force. There is a link to Mr. Dickon's website below as well.
  • The Gold Star Mother Pilgrimages of the 1930's - John W. Graham, 2005. Graham goes in depth in a largely forgotten aspect of WW1. In the late 1920's it was decided that the mothers and/or widows of our fallen should get a chance to see the graves of their loved ones overseas, all on the government's dime. Controversial at the time, this is the full story, told with care and respect. There is a companion video for this work, but it can be rather hard to find. Both the book and the video are well worth searching out.
  • Soldier Dead - Michael Sledge, 2005. Mister Sledge has taken on a difficult subject - not just the U.S. fallen of the Great War but of all America's wars - and told the story of how we collect, identify and then honor them, with grace and reverence. A very good place to begin on the road to respect.

Doughboy MIA fully endorses the film Taking Chance, starring Kevin Bacon. This is a wonderful and heart rending story that shows the true American attitude toward our fallen today. Times change, uniforms change, technology changes, the theater of war changes... but it's still our boys who go and do the fighting. And sometimes they die doing it. That never changes.

Watch this film and I dare anyone to ask me afterward why Doughboy MIA exists.

 And finally, here we have some links to related sites we trust and believe promote a worthwhile cause related to our own:


Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency The 'mother ship' for what we do, however they do not have the personnel or resources to do WW1. Therefore they do not go back any further than WW2 in actively searching for cases. No matter - WW1 is our job. We'll seek them out when we have something for them. In the meantime, check out their great site and see the fantastic work they do in bringing our heroes home.

ABMC  The body that oversees the commemoration of our fallen. Searchable database of all foreign burials and plenty of great information on the organization and the cemeteries and monuments abroad. 

NARA Without the National Archives, there would be no research at all, period. Here is where the 'meat and potatoes' of our work takes place.

Missing Air Crew Project  Pat Ranfranz has been seeking his uncle and his missing WW2 bomber for years, and along the way he has found others - many others. Pat's work is stellar and a true inspiration to us here at Doughboy MIA. Check his site out thoroughly and we think you'll agree.

The Project to Identify American War Dead Still Buried Abroad  The companion site to the book mentioned above, with regular updates to the information collection of ALL foreign buried Americans. Chris has done some excellent work and is another inspiration to us here. 
 
​Online WW1 Indexes and Records  A ton of information that leads to still more information. You could spend days here. I know - I did.

Quartermaster Museum  The Graves Registration Service is a branch of the Quartermaster Corps. Here on their site you can get a nice feel for what they do, have done and will continue to do in that arena. Lots of great articles on the WW1 soldier dead dating from the 1920's and 1930's.

ANREF Polar Bears  THE site for everything about the 'Polar Bears'. We hope to be able to contribute to the site over the coming years.


A man is only missing if he is forgotten.