Jonathan Webb Deiss, Independent Researcher & Military History Specialist
Custom Research
Examples of Military personnel & pension files. The files are professionally scanned and digitally archived on CD-ROM.

1. Compiled Service Record

2. Casualty Sheet

3. SSR

4. Pension Application File

5. Pension Application File

6. Pension Application File
The standard fee for obtaining a copy of a Volunteer soldier's Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) from the National Archives in Washington, DC is $22.50. CMSR files are typically carded records, abstracted from the multi-name original wartime documents, with some original single-name contemporaneous documents included when available. This seems ambiguous and it is meant to be. There is no guarantee or minimum expectation of what may be in a CMSR file. It could be as brief as one document relating to an individual soldier or voluminous as hundreds of documents specific to one person consolidated in a single jacket-envelope. CMSR files exist only for Continental Line soldiers in the Revolutionary War and Volunteer soldiers from State units during the early Indian Wars, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish American War and the Philippine Insurrection. Service records for US Army regulars, Naval personnel and Marines are not compiled or consolidated, except as noted below.

Also at the National Archives in Washington, DC are the rest of records of the US military establishment from 1775 until approximately 1912-1917. At the National Archives in College Park, Maryland are the records from 1917 until the Vietnam era. These vast textual files are largely unindexed and not microfilmed, and require close scrutiny and work to extract the desired information on individual soldiers. These records contain the majority of all the real meat and bones, down and dirty, nitty-gritty details. We have ten years experience navigating these record systems. The standard fee for researching these records is $50.00 per hour or $350.00 per day.

My team and I scan everything, or digitally photograph all records, then process them and present them to you as ADOBE pdf documents which you can download...

Pension case-files for personnel who served from 1775 until sometime in the early 20th century are also housed at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Pensions are the most valuable source of information on a soldier's personal life and family, but also contain great amounts of straight military data. Pensions exist primarily for Army personnel, although some scattered pensions for Sailors and Marines are available. The standard fee for obtaining a copy of a pension file that is actually at the Nat'l Archives is $75.00 unless the file is less than 25 pages long, when the price drops to $55.00. Most pensions average about 75 pages.

The majority of pensions for soldiers from WW1 and WW2, Korea, Vietnam, etc are still held by Veterans Affairs and require a Freedom of Information Act request, a task we can also undertake, if you have the patience to wait six months for a result. Please email for more information on this special service.

There are no compiled or consolidated files covering the service of soldiers in the Regular Army until after about 1912/13, Naval personnel until about 1885/86 or Marines until about 1905/06. These are special cases available only at the NARA's National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, which we can also retrieve. Considering the fire in 1973, about 75% of all Army and Air Force records for soldiers in World War I, the interwar years, World War 2 and Korea are just not available. They are gone. But Navy and USMC service records are largely intact for the dates indicated, which mean we have access to great data on these veterans from the 1880's through the late 1940's. The standard fee for research there is $300.00 for each Army enlisted man or officer and $75.00 for each Navy blue-jacket or Marine.

As a general rule, unless absolutely necessary, we do not provide paper-to-paper copies. My team and I scan everything, or digitally photograph all records, then process them and present them to you as ADOBE pdf documents which you can download from my server or receive by mail on a cd-rom or dvd-rom. We strive to start all projects immediately and finish as soon as possible or within contracted time constraints.

Ultimately there is no guarantee that we will find the information you seek. However, we will make every reasonable effort, and a number of unreasonable ones, to uncover the answers to your research queries. We are educated and trained specifically for this task, have worked in our fields for years, take our jobs seriously, and enjoy our work. You'll see this in the effort we put into solving your mysteries, or fulfilling your military-history related research and documentation needs.

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