June 12, 2009
National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis Opens Agency Civilian Personnel Records to the Public
St. Louis, MO - The National Archives' National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) opened more than 6 million individual personnel files of former federal civilian employees from the mid-1800s through 1951. These records will be of special interest to genealogists, family members, researchers, sociologists, and historians.
Among the records are the files of prominent individuals who worked for the federal government, such as Walt Disney, Ansel Adams, Eliot Ness, Calvin Coolidge, J. Edgar Hoover, Gifford Pinchot, Walker Evans, and Albert Einstein.
Ronald L. Hindman, Director of NPRC characterized these records "as a veritable treasure-trove of information for researchers and genealogists." He continued, "There are records from more than one hundred government agencies now available for discovery. They showcase the careers of government employees who investigated bootleggers; taught at Indian schools; worked in Japanese-American interment camps, in prisons, and on anti-prostitution boards, and created and implemented initiatives in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal agencies, among others."
These documents open a window into America's past. Examples include:
* From the Bureau of Indian Affairs-- "The food the children had to eat was not clean. The school was dismissed at irregular hours; sometimes the children would not get home till half past five in the evening."
* From the War Relocation Authority-- a job description: "The qualifications of the registrant: the ability to assume responsibility in the management and operation of a large community and composed entirely of one isolated racial group under war conditions and in the face of adverse public sentiment is a highly essential qualification."
* From the Department of Justice-- a Prohibition Agent in the 1930's was found guilty of consuming liquor and shooting a bootlegger in the leg as the bootlegger tried to escape in his Model "A" Ford Coupe.
This opening of 6 million files adds to the existing collection of more than 9 million military personnel files that are already available for research and is another step in the creation of the largest archival repository in the United States outside the National Archives in the Washington, DC area. In late 2010, the records will be moved to a state-of-the-art repository on Dunn Road, in suburban St Louis County, Missouri.
To purchase a copy of a particular record, send a written request to NPRC, Civilian Personnel Records, 111 Winnebago Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63118-4199. The request should include the requester's contact information, the former federal employee's full name, date of birth, name of employing agency, and period of employment. Copies of the records can be purchased for either $20 or $60, depending upon the size of the record. Most records will fall into the $60 range. Once a request has been submitted, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Visitors to NPRC in St. Louis can make an appointment to view these records for free in the Archival Research Room. Visitors interested in doing so should call 314-801-0850 to schedule an appointment.