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Introduction MAs Needed
Class MA Project MAs Completed
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How to Proceed Cadet MA Study
Co. MA Status  

General Tips

1. Consult with:

1.1 MA Project Coordinator: Jack Porter.

1.2 MA Liaison (MAL) - volunteer MA leader from each cadet company (http://www.usma1954.org/Contacts/MALiaisons.htm).

1.3 Action Coordinators (AC) – development of individual MAs (http://www.usma1954.org/Memorial/OurMAPages.htm - click on Cadet Company).

1.4 MA Help Desk (MAHelpDeskProtocol091212.docx)

1.5 Search Technique Pros: Bill Epling, Jack Porter, Frank Hart, & Jack Miller.

2. Familiarize yourself with the MA subject.

3. Consult widow, children, friends, company mates, classmates, etc.

4. Keep detailed records recording all known data (full name, DOB, date of death, parents’ & siblings names, widow & children names and addresses, addresses over the years, military and after experiences, etc.) plus results from all searches – negative and positive results.

5. There are numerous detailed search techniques listed below. The particulars of the case will dictate the sequence of trying them. Please note that many of the hyperlinks will change over time. Generally the websites or similar are still there so search for the site (e.g., use Google (http://www.google.com/)).

6. Unusual names are easiest – try multiple versions of names on various search engines.

7. Most online searches can be done without paying – be careful since one can get into paying when not necessary (occasionally it is prudent).

8. Most cases can be cracked with patience and perseverance.


Search Techniques

1. West Point AOG (WPAOG): https://www.westpointaog.org/

1.1 Archives & Cullum Files: Dossiers on grads with contact data, widow, obits, next-of-kin, etc. – data varies. Data quality varies.

Marilee (Marylee) Meyer, Memorial Articles Editor, Archivist & Cullum Files


1-800-232-4723, x1545

Fax: 1-845-446-1685


1.2 Assistant, Class Support Program: Good POC for many WPAOG related matters.

Jo Ann Shipley


1-800-232-4723, x1538

FAX: 1-846-446-1695


1.3 Howitzers (’54 and prior): Photos, narrative, and activities.

1.4 Register of Graduates (current and 2006 (2006 has DOB)): Cullum No., major assignments, etc. Note data is as reported by each grad.

1.5 WPAOG e-mail for ’54: The latest ‘54 contact data is available at http://www.westpointaog.org/Page.aspx?pid=1860&chid=219 (right side of page, click on “Classmates’ Email Addresses”). Note that one must log on (with Cullum No. & password) to use this link. Includes all those who have provided contact data to WPAOG.

1.6 WPAOG full contact data (address, phone number, e-mail, etc.) spreadsheet: All ‘54, ex-cadets, and widows who have provided contact data to WPAOG. This spreadsheet can be sorted by zip code or any other field in the spreadsheet (e.g., find all in a given zip code). Jack Miller, Jack Porter, and Bill Epling have copies of this spreadsheet.

1.7 Assembly: Back issues (available online from the WPAOG website (2006-to date) & USMA Library (1918-1966) (http://www.library.usma.edu/archives/).

1.10 Ellis Newsletter: Back issues (check with Bob Ellis).


2. USMA:

2.1 Graduate Records: Parents names, DOB, home of record, SSN, Cadet Company, etc.

Cadets, ex-cadets, grads - write or visit:

O/Dean ORD (MADN-ORD), ATTN: Graduate Records

United States Military Academy

Official Mail & Distribution Center

646 Swift Road

West Point, New York 10996-1905

Telephone: 1-845-938-3708

POC: Joanne Rera (Joanne.Rera@usma.edu)

2.2 USMA Library (Jefferson Hall).

2.3 USMA Library Special Collections & Archives. This is an awesome resource with a huge amount of historical data on West Point (including the Class of 1954) - cadet officers, academic standing in each subject & overall, etc.), USMA Staff & Faculty (in full detail), back issues of the Assembly (1942 - 1993), Official Register of the Officers and Cadets (1818 to 1966), etc. Search for “Special Collections” or “Archives” on the home page (http://www.library.usma.edu/). One must explore the site to learn all that is available.


3. ’54-40 Yearbook: Yearbook for 40th Reunion. Individual write-ups, pictures, addresses, etc. as of 1994. Many classmates have copies.


4. Social Security Death Index (SSDI): (SSN, if dead where last payment made, if not in SSDI then likely still alive (classmate, widow, children, etc.)). Try multiple versions of name. You can search with just names but SSN is much faster – particularly for common names. Army Registers in the 1970s – 80s for the Regular Army Active List contained SSNs. Additionally, when the services switched to SSNs in place of serial numbers for a while the SSN’s were also included in promotion lists published in the Congressional Record during Senate confirmations. If a classmate, wife, or widow is not found in the SSDI then he or she is almost certainly still alive or died quite recently.

4.1 http://ssdi.rootsweb.com/

4.2 http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/

4.3 http://www.familytreelegends.com/records/ssdi


5. Burial Location: Where and when buried, date of birth & death, possibly NOK, etc.

5.1 Arlington National Cemetery (where buried, next of kin, etc.): www.arlingtoncemetery.net/usarmy1.htm, Air Force and other services are also searchable.

5.2 VA Cemetery site (where buried, next of kin, etc.): www.cem.va.gov

5.3 http://www.interment.net                                                        

5.4 Find a Grave: www.findagrave.com


6. Obituaries: Funeral home, NOK, obits, etc.

6.1 Ancestry.com: www.ancestry.com

6.2 Washington Post obituary archives: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/search.html Death notices are searchable free for 90 days.  For earlier notices that appeared online after 14 October 2001, the searches are free; results will display the name and first 25 words of the death notice. There is a fee to view the full text of a death notice.  Once purchased, the full text of the death notice, photograph (if available) and Guest Book will be online for 24 hours. Death notices earlier that October 2001 would be available at local public libraries on microfilm. The New York Times also has an archive search fee similar to the Post

6.3 Obits Archive (www.obitsarchive.com)

This website generally goes back to 1990 or a little earlier attempting to capture the obits of everyone who died in the U.S. It is not complete but it is an excellent site. Check the free results. If you get a hit, go to source to get obit, which is likely a newspaper. One may need to pay to obtain published obits from website.


7. White pages:

7.1 Local paper editions: www.onlinenewspapers.com

7.2 Switchboard.com: http://www.switchboard.com/

7.3 Dogpile.com: http://www.dogpile.com/info.dogpl/white-pages/


8. People search:

8.1 Intelius: www.intelius.com.

Select the "people search" in the center column of the main menu. Site shows relationships among people (even deceased in some cases) and likely current or former towns in which individual lived. Again, maximize use of free searches without paying for data.

8.2 People Lookup: www.peoplelookup.com.

Similar to Intelius but not nearly as good. It sometimes yields slightly different results, which can be useful.

8.3 AnyWho: http://www.anywho.com/.

Good for locating people and businesses, checking on addresses and phone numbers, etc. Can search all states, one by one, to locate classmate or NOK. Helps to find funeral homes, schools, realty offices, newspapers, military units, cemeteries, government offices, libraries, nursing homes, etc.

8.3 Radaris: http://radaris.com.

8.4 Miscellaneous:

Ask at schools for info re siblings, best friends, etc. Possibly convince a reporter to write an article to produce leads, call blindly to people in small towns who might have known the family, etc. Use WPAOG classmates and widows database, sorted by zip code, to find who are in the general area, have had contact with, have knowledge of someone, or might be able to more readily help obtain information. West Point Societies, West Point Parents Clubs, and active, Reserve, NG, ROTC, and Recruiting units might also provide information or other assistance. An atlas is often handy as well as online maps.


9. Real estate property assessments: Owners, when acquired &/or sold, contact data, etc.

9.1 Fairfax County: http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/Main/Home.aspx.

9.2 Arlington County: www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/RealEstate/RealEstateAssessmentsMain.aspx.

9.3 Prince William County: www.co.prince-william.va.us/default.aspx?topic=040046.

9.4 Alexandria: http://ci.alexandria.va.us/city/realestate/.

9.5 District of Columbia: https://www.taxpayerservicecenter.com/RP_Search.jsp?search_type=Assessment.

9.6 Maryland (all counties): http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/rp_rewrite/.

9.7 Zillow.com: http://www.zillow.com (national in scope – not 100% coverage)

Note that many states and counties provide online access to all real property records.


10. Professional search organizations: For a fee they will search for folks. They will often jump up when doing online searches.


11. Google: http://www.google.com/

A very powerful search tool – particularly when name is not common. Try multiple versions of names (initials instead of first and middle names, w & w/o suffix, etc.


12. Newspapers:

12.1 If you know that an event happened at a specific time in a specific place it often pays to check local online papers for that region. Newspaper search engines vary greatly in quality and ease of use. With exception of certain major newspapers (NY Times, etc.), online searchable newspaper archives often go back only 2, 5, or 10 years. One must sometimes have to pay a fee and wait a few days while the newspaper searchers its archives for your data.

12.2 Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/. Note: One must provide an  e-mail address and establish a password to get full access for obits, etc. – no fee is involved.

12.3 New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/.


13. Public Libraries:

Public libraries offer user-friendly online capabilities and are easy and affable places.  Many of them will search archives of local papers for obits of anyone you request going way back in time (typically cost of about $5). You usually have to send them a self-addressed stamped envelope with search fee. Search results will be returned to you via snail mail. Common turn-around time for a library search is a month.


14. Zabasearch: www.zabasearch.com.

Site is heavily used by law enforcement. Try a free search. It often yields specific addresses and even the date of birth of individuals.


15. Telephone directories: There are many on the Internet.

15.1 Switchboard: www.switchboard.com.

Be careful not to enter too much data into search. If the town is not too large, simply enter last name of person and then scroll through the results to see if you have a valid hit. Sometimes for rare names, you can search an entire state for a person without entering the name of a town.

15.2 Info Space: www.infospace.com.

It is useful as it permits reverse searches if one knows a telephone number and not a name. Hit rate on reverse searches is about 15 – 20%.


16. Maps: Maps can be useful if trying to find out if two or more towns are close to each other, etc.

16.1 Mapquest: www.mapquest.com.

16.2 Your installed map or navigation programs.


17. Ancestry.com: http://search.ancestry.com/. Extremely powerful search engine for multiple sources of data.

1940 U.S. Census and earlier U.S. Censuses (parents and sibling names, street address, occupation, ages, etc.).

Obituary Collections.


Birth, marriage, divorce, & death collections or indexes.

Military records (draft registrations, etc.).

VA cemetery burial records.

Directories & membership list.

Court, land, will, & financial records.

This program (largely used for genealogy research - covers a huge range of time up to the present) but must be subscribed to. It often provides key hits.


18. Veterans Records: http://www.archives.gov/research_room/vetrecs/.

NOK can get copies of complete personnel records maintained by National Archives or services.


19. Army & Air Force Mutual Aid Association: http://www.aafmaa.com/.

Wills, contact data, widow, etc. Many grads are, or were, members.


20. United Services Automobile Association (USAA): https://www.usaa.com/.

Many grads are, or were, members.


21. Armed Forces Insurance (AFI): http://www.afi.org/welcome.asp.

Many grads are, or were, members.


In most instances, the information you seek can be found through use of one or more of the preceding techniques accompanied by your patience and perseverance. Classmates listed under "General Tips" are also available to assist.

Page based on MASearchTechniques091213.doc


Last updated: September 13, 2012                          

Page monitor:   Jack Porter