How to Obtain an Individual Deceased Personnel File

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During World War II, the Graves Registration Service department of the military compiled "individual deceased personnel files," or IDPF's, for each soldier who died during the war. These records were created for those who died in service stateside and overseas not only in World War II, but in wars and conflicts beyond. Before World War I these files were called Burial Files. Obtaining a soldier's IDPF provides family members with a greater picture of his military service, information on how he died, where he was interred, and the disinterment process after the war. Some files include letters from family members.

Write a letter to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command. Cite the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, in the beginning of your letter. Include the soldier's information such as full legal name, serial number, unit information, branch of service, and dates of birth and death.

Your letter might resemble this example:

Dear Staff:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby make a request for the "Individual Deceased Personnel File" for my below listed family member who died or was killed in action while serving in the military during World War II.

Add this information beneath opening paragraph: name, military service number, unit and division, date of birth, date of death, branch of service.

Mail the letter to:

U.S. Army

Human Resources Command

Attn: AHRC-PAO (FOIA), Room 7S65

200 Stovall Street

Alexandria, VA 22331-0400

Processing time is usually six to nine months. As of 2010, the National Archives did not charge a copy fee to provide individual deceased personnel files to family members.


  • Provide as much information as you know about the solider. It helps in the record search. The National Archives will send you a confirmation of receipt of letter after it receives your request. Save this letter in case you need to contact the archives before you receive the file. The archives does ask that you notify it if your address changes during that period.



About the Author

Jennifer Holik, a professional genealogist, has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes for Chicago-area genealogy society publications. Holik has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Photo Credits

  • flowers at grave site image by toschphoto from