Visit the Public Research Room at the National Archives, St. Louis

We’re looking for the military records of
my half-brother, Lucian Bitante. Lucian passed away back in 1945 and we weren’t aware of
that he was kin to me until just recently. I’m researching World War II and how the
death penalty was implemented in the European theater of operations. There were 95 executions
for murder, or murder and rape. We are here at the Public Research Room located at the
National Archives in St. Louis. Most of the researchers that we have are historians, genealogists.
These are copies of documents, was sent to me by a researcher who’s trying to find
the service record of her great-grandfather. Navy discharge paper from 1898. This man was
in the Spanish-American War. We have two archives specialists. OK, forty-nine sixty-two. They
both have over 60 years combined work with these records. My job is helping people find
information off of unit records that they could not find in the official military personnel
file. When a record is incomplete, especially Army and Air Force, then you can look at unit
records to maybe try to fill in the gaps. Looks like we have several pieces of the service
record here. It can be tricky. But you know if you have someone helping you it’s, it’s
really not too daunting. His records were recovered from the 1973 fire. Thank you very
much, we’ll bring our copies up. And he was lucky, it was one of the 20 percent that
was recovered. So his records had to be cleaned and processed by our preservation staff before
they could see them. This is a file on Private First Class William McCarter. And he was convicted
of murdering another soldier. The ultimate authority for the European theater of operations
was primarily General Eisenhower. And you can see here that General Eisenhower confirmed
the sentence of death for Private First Class McCarter. This research room is completely
open to the public. We prefer that researchers contact us ahead of time if they’re coming
from out of town. If they provide us all the information we need upfront we’re able to
get that record in the research room ahead of time. This is a wonderful facility, and
it’s really easy to use. And the people here are some of the most knowledgeable with
the most initiative that I’ve ever come across in 30 years of writing. I mean you
just look like you have a question and they’re there to help you. We’re the face of the
Archives here in St. Louis.

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