World War II documents are to be found at National Archives II (NAII) in College Park, Maryland near the University of Maryland campus, not the building in downtown Washington, D.C. visited by the tourists. Here is a photo of NAII, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Click on it twice to enlarge it fully.
For the NAII website, go to http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/. For a brief description of the records bearing on escape and evasion, go to http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/498.html#498.3. In particular, look at 498.3. For a discussion on the National Archives blog of these records with excerpts from several of them, go to http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=1798.
NARA is scanning its records in order to make them more readily available to the public. A feature added in October 2019 is called the Record Group Explorer. It provides a visual tool to see all the different types of record groups and how far along the scanning is of each group. Record Group 498 was 19 rows down and on the far left at the time the new feature was announced.
Another way of accessing the information at the National Archives is through History Hub. Click here to access it.
To be added to the NARA’s email newsletter with information about the latest developments, copies of back newsletters, and links to various features including search tips, go to their Catalogue Newsletter at https://www.archives.gov/research/catalog/newsletter. Note the side heading options, including “Using the National Archives Catalogue” and “Search Tips.”
Also thanks to NARA, the following photo shows the NAII building the way it would look at night if you are working there one of the evenings when the Textual Research Room was open in the evening:
The records that I have found most useful in my research have been:
- The Appendix C’s of the American airmen. Originally part of the Escape and Evasion files, these are stored separately. Often these are the most useful source of information on an airman’s experiences. (Sometimes, however, you will be lucky and find a copy of the Appendix C in the Escape and Evasion file.)
- Helper files of the Dutch, Belgian, French, etc. men and women who risked their lives to help the airmen.
Here are some suggestions:
- Escape and Evasion files of American airmen are now available online. (See comments in the next page of this website.)
- The professional archivists in the Research Consultation room in the Textual Research Room will show you how to use the finding aids to locate and order the records you want.
- Most such records are part of Record Group 498. To identify the particular record you want, you will need to specify the Record Group as RG 498 and then the stack location, which consists of the Stack Area, Row, Compartment, and Shelf, e.g., 290/55/21/4, which is the designation for Escape & Evasion Section (MIS-X) Records re: Polish, Swiss, Danish, Yugoslav, and German Helpers, 1945. (Note that some old guides to escape and evasion reports may refer to RG 338. That was renumbered some years ago as RG498.)
- Michael LeBlanc’s 100th Bomb Group website at: https://100thbg.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=97&Itemid=207, has more to say on the types of records to use.
The next pages of this website consist of the following:
- An explanation of how to access escape and evasion reports online. Included is a listing of airmen and the numbers of their reports for E&E reports 1-1000, plus my comments on the usefulness of the order in which E&E report numbers were issued.
- Notes on Using the Textual Research Room at National Archives II.
- MIS-X Files, Belgium, 1945-1947. Case Files of Belgian Helpers, Boxes 1-93, RG 498/290/55/21/6, with the range of names in each box. The boxes are arranged by the level of the award they received.
- MIS-X Files, Holland, 1945-1947. Boxes 1-145. RG 498/290/55/23/7. The range of names is shown for each box. For a list of Dutch helpers, click here. For other sources of information on Dutch helpers and other members of the Dutch Resistance, click here.
- Sample Dutch airmen helper questionnaires.
- English translations of terms used in the Dutch helper questionnaires.
- Information on accessing prisoner of war (POW) records.
- Lastly, advice on enlistment records.