For more than a decade, access to the WWII Individual Deceased Personnel Files or IDPFs, has undergone massive change. It has been frustrating to researchers who want to find answers about their family’s veterans and to professionals like me who want to give families answers, closure and some peace.
I began using these files in 2010 when they were access through NARA at Suitland, MD. Then access began to change to Ft. Knox Army Human Resource Command because the files were being digitized for DPAA MIA projects. All taxpayer funded of course at the same time access was reduced or stopped or made extremely difficult.
There have been times when we couldn’t access these files easily or it would take months or years to receive a response from Ft. Know Army Human Resource Command. I can’t remember exactly what year but it was after 2015 or 2016, surnames A-L for these files were sent to NPRC in St. Louis for researchers to access easily. The catch was you get to pay for them (again) even though they were already digitized. Surnames M-Z became extremely difficult to get and for a period of a few years, it took months to years to get files from Ft. Knox because of whatever system they had going prior to Covid. At the same time all this was happening, the M-Z files were supposed to go to NPRC prior to 2020 and they never did.
Earlier this year NARA began posting on their catalog, the IDPFs, focusing on surnames A-C only. I vaguely remember seeing this catalog and since there wasn’t much in it, I kind of forgot about it until last night when someone share it on social media. So I took another look. There are still only surnames A-C and it isn’t complete. I have many files that still haven’t been uploaded within that range. And there are files out there I’ve never seen.
So how do we currently access WWII IDPFs?
- For Surnames A-L go search the NARA catalog to see if it’s been uploaded. If not,
- You can get Surnames A-L through NPRC in St. Louis.
- For Surnames M-Z you can send a FOIA request via email to Army Human Resource Command email@example.com and include the details about your service member (Name, Service Number, Death Date, Unit, and your contact info.) Ft. Knox is currently responding to requests within a month which is incredibly fast. Get your requests in soon because you never know when things will change.
IDPF for 2nd Lt. David Blake
I’ve read hundreds of IDPFs and I keep a log of the ones that have new information I’ve never seen. Most files contain similar pieces of information and documents but others provide the unexpected. Adoption records, vital records, divorce papers, probate files, mental hospital commitment papers for a family member, and rare photos.
Photos are so rare in these files it’s always exciting to come across one. As I was scanning the NARA catalog this morning I was called by 2nd Lt. David Blake to look at his file. It’s 182 pages long and contains two photos with pencil notations about what happened to him and his crew. You can download and read his file and view the complete photos on NARA’s site.
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