Although researchers are given no assurances of locating
information on a World War I veteran when exploring the records
cited in this article, they are at least guaranteed to come away
with a better understanding of the conflict in which their
ancestors served. Unfortunately, the Great War was only a
precursor to an even costlier conflict little more than twenty
Researchers wishing to learn additional information on the
holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration
should consult the Guide to Federal Records in the National
Archives of the United States (1995). Further information on
World War I records may be obtained by writing to the Old Army
and Civil Records Branch (NWCTB), 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20408-0001. To request a search of personnel
records in the National Personnel Records Center, you will need a
Standard Form 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records."
Copies of the form are available from the center at 8600 Page
Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132, or from the Web site
Return to the top
1. The definition of the term "Doughboy" has a number of
variations. One definition states that the term goes back to the
Civil War, "when the cavalry derided foot soldiers as doughboys,
perhaps because their globular buttons resembled flour dumplings
or because soldiers used flour to polish their white belts"
Smithsonian (April 1998): 22. Laurence Stallings, in his
book, The Doughboys (New York, 1963, p. 15), claims that
"there can be little dispute as to the derivation of the name. In
Texas, U.S. Infantry along the Rio Grande were powdered white
with the dust of adobe soil, and hence were called 'adobes' by
mounted troops. It was a short step to 'dobies' and then, by
metathesis, the word was Doughboys."
2. War Department, Annual Report of the Secretary of War
for the Fiscal Year, 1918, vol. 1 (1918) p. 11.
4. John Whiteclay Chambers II, To Raise an Army: The
Draft Comes to Modern America(1987), p. 186.
5. War Department, Annual Report of the Secretary of War
for the Fiscal Year, 1918, vol. 1 (1918), p. 17.
6. Edward M. Coffman, The War To End All Wars
(1968), p. 231.
7. The "National Army" is defined by John J. Pershing in his
book My Experiences in the World War (1931), vol. 1, p.
130: "In the organization of our armies for the World War it was
evident that if any considerable numbers were to be sent abroad,
an additional force would be needed over and above the Regular
Army and National Guard. The War Department therefore established
what was called the National Army, to be composed principally of
men who were to come into the service through the draft."
8. Coffman, The War To End All Wars, p. 231.
9. Microfilm may be purchased for $34 a roll from the
National Archives Trust Fund, P.O. Box 100793, Atlanta, GA 30384-0793.
Make checks payable to the National Archives Trust Fund.
VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express are also
accepted; provide the account number, expiration date, and
cardholder signature. A free descriptive pamphlet for M990 may be
requested from the Product Development and Distribution Staff
(NWCP), Room G7, National Archives and Records Administration,
700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001.
10. President Woodrow Wilson to Secretary of the Navy
Josephus Daniels, May 27, 1917, #28790-3, entry 19b, General
Correspondence of the Secretary of the Navy, Record Group 80,
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
11. Coffman, The War To End All Wars, p. 152.