Genealogy: World War II 1941-1945, Develop a search profile for military records

WWIIBy Barry J. Ewell
I have made it a practice to search World War II records for males and females that I have found in the 1920-1940 U.S. Federal censuses that were between the ages of 16 to 60 years of age between 1941-1945.There is a good chance they served or registered for service in WW II.  With the online availability of records, searching for military records should be part of your research process for males who were born between the years of 1891 and 1927.

Build a search profile for each male and female. Begin by developing a short profile for each male and female (who was in military) you will be researching. You will use the list as a reference for your search.  Include the following

  • Name of male and variations
  • Approximate age at the beginning and end of the World War II
  • Approximate birth year or birth date
  • Approximate death year or death date
  • Name of the wife/husband and children during their life time
  • State (include county if possible) where male lived before, during and after WW II

With the online availability of records, searching for military records should be part of your research process for males who were born between the years of 1891 and 1927.
Where to find the personal information
I would begin to build my search profile viewing the information on the 1920 to 1940 U.S. Federal census.

Check the 1920 U. S. Federal census to identify

  • Living males between the ages of 0/12 and 29
  • Place of birth for the male
  • If married, name of spouse and children and their ages
  • Place of residence (state and county) at the time of the census

Check the 1930 U.S. Federal Census

  • Living males between the ages of 2 and 48
  • If married, name of spouse and children and their ages
  • Place of residence (state and county) at the time of the census

Check the 1940 U.S. Federal Census

  • Living males between the ages of 12 and 58
  • If married, name of spouse and children and their ages
  • Place of residence (state and county) at the time of the census

Start with at least the 1930 and 1940 census and expand to the 1920 censuses as needed. A sample search profile is as follows:

Sample World War II male search profile
Census yearNameAge and apprx birth year/DateFamilyLocationPlace of birth
1920 CensusJay Stewart3 (11917)Living with father James Isaac StewartBlackfoot, Bingham, IdahoNebraska
1930 CensusThomas J. Stewart13 (1917)Living with father James Isaac StewartBlackfoot, Bingham, IdahoNebraska
1940 CensusJ. Stewart23 (1917)(F) Mary Elizabeth 22
(F) Mary 3/12
(F) Robert 2
Blackfoot, Bingham, IdahoNebraska

Learn about researching World War II records in the article, “Genealogy: World War II 1941-1945, Researching and finding military records.”