On Aug. 14, the National Archives and Records Administration
(NARA) will open more than 35,000 personnel files of men and women who served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the country’s intelligence agency during World War II.
The files, located at NARA’s College Park. Md., facility, cover civilian and military OSS personnel who died while in service or were transferred, discharged or reassigned prior to 1947.
Records document applications, training and work assignments, pay, leave and travel, evaluations, basic medical information, awards and decorations, and discharges. Some files have special citations for combat actions or major intelligence missions.
The files are arranged by name, so you can use NARA’s Archival Research Catalog
to search for people with OSS files. It’s a little tricky—here’s how I did it:
1. In the Archival Research Catalog, make sure the Archival Description tab is selected (it should be the default).
2. Type 1593270 (the OSS ARC identifier) into the search field and click Search.
3. Click the link for the single result.
4. Scroll down and click the Search Within This Series icon to search for a name (the search may take awhile). Or, to browse names, click the link “15,169 file units described in ARC.”
You don’t get much identifying information, just the person’s name and serial number, which you can use it to order copies from NARA
Fun fact: Julia Child (then Julia McWilliams) served in the OSS, where she helped develop repellant so sharks wouldn’t foil US efforts to blow up German U-boats. She also met her her future husband, Paul Child, another OSS member.
See NARA’s Web site for more background information on OSS records