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National Archives Catalog
National Archives Catalog
Famous Faces in the Military

Have you ever wondered what Elvis did during his time in the military? How about Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis Jr., or even legendary boxer Joe Louis?

These individuals, famous in their own right, also served in our nation’s Armed Forces. Thanks to a new initiative from the National Archives at St. Louis, many of the Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) from the Archives’ Persons of Exceptional Prominence (PEP) collection are now digitized and available to view or download in the National Archives Catalog.

Photo of Paul Newman from his Official Military Personnel File, n.d. (National Archives Identifier 57301072)
Photo of John Ford from his Official Military Personnel File, n.d. (National Archives Identifier 40914175)
Photo of James H. Doolittle from his Official Military Personnel File, n.d. (National Archives Identifier 57283842)
(Top) Photograph of Paul Newman from his Official Military Personnel File, n.d. (National Archives Identifier 57301072); (Left) Photograph of John Ford from his Official Military Personnel File, n.d. (National Archives Identifier 40914175); (Right) Photograph of James H. Doolittle from his Official Military Personnel File, n.d. (National Archives Identifier 57283842).

So, what are the PEPs? The PEPs are Specially Protected Holdings (SPHs) of accessioned military and civilian personnel files of prominent individuals who served in the military or Federal Government. They warrant special protection due to their status, what they did while serving, or as a result of their service.  

The PEP collection can include nationally recognized celebrities, officials who served in top positions within the Armed Forces, highly decorated military personnel, innovators and pioneers, infamous characters, and even individuals associated with important cultural events or movements.

Digitizing the collection is just the first step in providing greater accessibility to these special records. Archival Operations at the National Archives at St. Louis has teamed up with the Preservation Program at St. Louis to add, process, and reformat personnel files in order to add them to the National Archives Catalog. Over the next couple of years, more PEP files will continue to be added, giving researchers and the public unlimited access to some of the military’s most famous servicemen and women.

(Left) Letter of Recommendation for John Ford from his Official Military Personnel File, August 29, 1934. (National Archives Identifier 40914175)
(Right) Humphrey D. Bogart’s enlistment form from his Official Military Personnel File, 1918. (National Archives Identifier 40910835)
(Left) Letter of Recommendation for John Ford from his Official Military Personnel File, August 29, 1934. (National Archives Identifier 40914175);  (Right) Humphrey D. Bogart’s enlistment form from his Official Military Personnel File, 1918. (National Archives Identifier 40910835)

Browse and view some of the Official Military Personnel Files of PEP’s from the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force now in the National Archives Catalog.

For a complete list of PEP files within the collection, visit our website.

This post comes from Marie Taylor, Preservation Technician with Preservation Programs at the National Archives. For more details about this project and information about these records, read her full blog post on the Pieces of History blog.

Citizen Archivist Mission
Do you want to explore a PEP? Help us transcribe and tag the Official Military Personnel File for Joe Louis Barrow, professionally known as the boxer Joe Louis.

Find the mission on our Citizen Archivist Dashboard.
Have questions? Find answers on History Hub!

Are you just beginning archival research? Have interest in talking to other researchers about a shared topic? Want help from an expert? Ask questions, find answers and more on History Hub, a crowdsourcing platform for American History.

Learn more about History Hub in this Know Your Records presentation by Alex Champion, an archivist at that National Archives at College Park. Alex tells us more about this support community managed by the National Archives and how researchers, citizen historians, archival professionals, and open government advocates can make the most of the platform.

New features in the National Archives Catalog

We’re always working to make using the Catalog a better experience. Here are some of the new and improved features that were recently implemented in the Catalog:

  • Refine by Date: the “Refine by Date” filter works to better narrow results by the record’s date. Search tip: if it appears the brief results are outside of the range you selected, it is likely the result of coverage dates, production dates, or other dates specified in the full description.
  • Container Lists in Export/Print View: exports and print views now display container lists.
  • Container Lists Searchable: the data from container lists is now indexed and searchable by users.
  • CSV Export Format Improved: formatting for CSV exports is vastly improved, allowing each data field to have its own column.

Have you tried any of these improved features? Let us know what you think! If you have questions and comments about these updates, email us at catalog@nara.gov.

Questions or comments? Email us at catalog@nara.gov.
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