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Military Personnel Records Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Military Personnel Records Center (NPRC-MPR) is a branch of the National Personnel Records Center and is the repository of over 56 million military personnel records and medical records pertaining to retired, discharged, and deceased veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Its facility is located at 1 Archives Drive in Spanish Lake,[1] a census-designated place in St. Louis County, Missouri,[2] near the City of St. Louis. Its former location was in Overland.[3][4]


Archival records

The separation document of Burt Lancaster, one of the publicly accessible records at the National Archives.  The burned edges are the result of the National Personnel Records Center fire of 1973.
The separation document of Burt Lancaster, one of the publicly accessible records at the National Archives. The burned edges are the result of the National Personnel Records Center fire of 1973.

The new Archival Records became open to unlimited access by the general public with all requests for information to such records responded by providing a copy of the entire file. Those seeking these records were required to pay a fee, whereas the "Non-Archival Records", that is, the bulk of MPRC's holdings, are provided free of charge. As part of the Archival Records program, a number of notable persons records were also transferred to the custody of the National Archives and open to general public access.[5]



The opening of MPRC in 1955
The opening of MPRC in 1955

The Military Personnel Records Center was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, and opened in the fall of 1955 after three years of construction. The building was originally known as the "Department of Defense Military Personnel Records Center" and was designated as a joint military command housing three separate records centers for the Army, Navy, and Air Force.[6]

Air Force records were considered under the Department of the Army custody at the time of MPRC's opening and were stored at various facilities until July 1, 1956 when the Air Force took custody of its records and moved them to the Air Force Records Center in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1957, the records were then transferred to MPRC in St. Louis. United States Marine Corps records had previously been transferred to the center, under Navy auspices, in 1957. Coast Guard records began to be received in 1958.[7]

On July 1, 1960, the Military Personnel Records Center ceased to be operated by the Defense Department with control transferred to the General Services Administration. The three active duty military records centers, on site at MPRC (the Air Force Records Center, the Naval Records Management Center and the Army Records Center), were disestablished and consolidated into a single civil service operated records center. The center was then designated as under the administration of the National Archives and Records Service (NARS), itself part of the GSA. In 1966, the military personnel records center merged administratively (but not physically) with the St. Louis Federal Records Center (later known as the Civilian Personnel Records Center or CPR) and became part of the National Personnel Records Center. The building became then known as the "National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records" (NPRC-MPR)[8]

Later history

MPRC's former location in Overland, Missouri with the Army HRC building attached.  The white building in the background is the U.S. Army Publications Distribution Center.
MPRC's former location in Overland, Missouri with the Army HRC building attached. The white building in the background is the U.S. Army Publications Distribution Center.

In 1965, when photocopy machines became widespread at the Military Personnel Records Center, it became easier to reproduce service records upon request from all interested parties. Even so, between 1965 and 1973 the Military Personnel Records Center gradually became overwhelmed with the volume of records requests it was receiving and developed a bad reputation as being non-customer friendly, with an average wait time of between 11 and 16 weeks for record responses.[9]

Until 1996, the Military Personnel Records Center operated through a complex system of paperwork forms with little computer automation. The 1980s saw serious complaints against the facility to the extent that the military service departments began procedures to hold their own records rather than have such records sent to the Military Personnel Records Center.[10]

Move to Spanish Lake

Beginning in 2015, the designation "Military Personnel Records Center" was dropped from most official correspondence, with the military records building in Spanish Lake thereafter referred to as the "National Personnel Records Center". Likewise, the civilian records counterpart was renamed from the Civilian Personnel Records Center to the "NPRC Annex". The term "National Personnel Records Center" may now refer to both the physical military records building in Spanish Lake, as well as an overall term for the National Archives federal records complexes located in St. Louis.[11]


The 1973 fire

The 1973 fire in progress
The 1973 fire in progress

Record scanning rumor

In the fall of 2004, an Internet hoax stated that the Military Personnel Records Center was destroying paper copies of all records in lieu of computer scanning.[12] National Archives officials stressed that all records are permanently archived, meaning that they will never be destroyed and always maintained as historical documents.[13] Despite this statement, veterans began contacting the records center in large numbers, asking to be sent their original paper records once they had been scanned. Originally, the records center staff responded by providing record copies which in turn caused more confusion since veterans believed their records were being destroyed and wanted to obtain the original documents. NPRC then enacted a policy where veterans would be contacted by phone, explained that their records were not being destroyed, and asked if they still desired copies. This same statement was reiterated across public Internet notices. As of 2006, following a significant backlog rise in record requests, the requests resulting from the "record destruction rumor" had mostly been dealt with by the Military Personnel Records Center.[14]

Destruction of records

In 2014, two employees of the Military Personnel Records Center were discovered to have unlawfully disposed or destroyed over eighteen hundred documents by either abandoning them in lesser used areas of the MPR facility, removing the documents and then destroying them off site, or abandoning the records in a wooded area in western Illinois. The two employees were later charged and convicted of destruction of government records; an investigation revealed the majority of the documents had been administrative "interfile" material into military personnel records, most of which pertained to deceased veterans, thus the breach to veteran privacy was considered minimal.[15]

After questions from Senator Claire McCaskill, the National Personnel Records Center conducted a further investigation and revealed that an additional ten employees had most likely been involved with the improper disposal of records, with enough evidence from an audit to recommend that five of the employees be dismissed from their posts. The motivation behind the mishandling and disposal of records was found to be a "bonus system" in which employees who had interfiled documents more quickly into service records were presented with a monetary paycheck award. The bonus system was thereafter discontinued and an interfile audit program was initiated.[16]


  1. ^ "Spanish Lake map" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2019-09-20. - Compare this map with a map of the facility location.
  2. ^ "Military Personnel Records". National Archives. Retrieved 2019-09-20. Address National Personnel Records Center 1 Archives Drive St. Louis, Missouri 63138 Directions [...] The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) and the National Archives at St. Louis are located in suburban north St. Louis County, near the intersection of MO-367 and I-270. 1 ARCHIVES DRIVE ST. LOUIS, MO 63138 - Also see printable directions information
  3. ^ "Ward Map". City of Overland. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  4. ^ "Military Personnel Records". National Archives. 2005-10-18. Archived from the original on 2005-10-18. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  5. ^ National Archives: Persons of Exceptional Prominence
  6. ^ Stender, Walter W.; Walker, Evans (October 1974). "The National Personnel Records Center Fire: A Study in Disaster". The American Archivist. Society of American Archivists. 37 (4): 522. ISSN 0360-9081. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  7. ^ "The National Personnel Records Center - A History", U.S. National Archives (St. Louis Archives Region), July 2016
  8. ^ "The Establishment of the National Personnel Records Center", U.S. National Archives (St. Louis Archives Region), July 2016
  9. ^ "Wading through warehouses of paper: the challenges of transitioning veterans records to paperless technology", Hearing before the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs, 4 Dec 2012
  10. ^ "Paper battleship is turning, Director Hindman says", St. Louis Post-Dispatch (27 Aug 2001)
  11. ^ National Archives and Records Administration, "The new NPRC", (Aug 2016)
  12. ^ National Personnel Records Center Hoax, American Legion (30 Sep 2004)
  13. ^ Mitchell, R. "NPRC: Records won't be destroyed", The Saratogian (4 Jul 2004) Archived 7 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Veteran FAQ, National Personnel Records Center (Aug 2016)
  15. ^ Patrick, Robert (January 30, 2014). "Records workers dumped, destroyed or lost 1,800 veterans documents". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  16. ^ NPRC Archivist of the United States, Public Memo from David S. Ferriero (26 Feb 2014)

External links

This page was last edited on 17 November 2021, at 16:30
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