Posted by Jennifer Holik on May 26, 2017 in Guest Bloggers

Have you checked out the U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939? The description tells us about the records.

About This Collection

The U.S. Army Transport Service (ATS) was established in 1899 as part of the Army Quartermaster Department. It was originally created to manage the transport of troops and cargo on Army ships that traveled between U.S. and overseas ports during the Spanish-American War. During World War I, the Quartermaster Corps managed the Army’s deep-water fleet.

The records in this collection consist of passenger lists created between 1910 and 1939. These lists recorded details on all persons arriving at U.S. ports on ATS ships. In addition to troops, passengers could also include nurses and other support personnel, family members, and any other passengers who may have been traveling aboard these ships. In some instances, troops from other countries traveled on U.S. Army ships. Details recorded in these passenger lists typically include the following information.

  • Ship name
  • Arrival date and place
  • Departure date and place
  • Service member’s name, rank, service number, age, residence, next of kin with relationship, and the regiment, company, detachment, or other organization that the service member was attached to
  • For non-service members, relation to service member

History of WWI Repatriation of Deceased Soldiers

This database also contains the manifests of the WWI War Dead. After both World Wars, remains were not repatriated, or brought back to the U.S. from overseas until 1920 after WWI and 1947 after WWII. Soldiers were buried near where they fell (if they were recovered) in one of the many temporary cemeteries  established in the Theater of War in which they served. Remains discovered after the war ended were often temporarily buried until the government gave the family the option to choose to either repatriate the remains or leave them overseas to be buried in an American Military Cemetery. There were a few other options, but those two were the most common.

Albert Kokoska’s Ship Manifests

My great-granduncle, Albert Kokoska, fought in WWI in France. He can be found on a ship manifest leaving the U.S. and heading to France with B Battery 139th Field Artillery 38th Division. Note the manifest on which he is listed shows the name, serial number, next of kin and address. The unit is at the top of the manifest and then in a skinny column before the next of kin is listed.

Albert Kokoska Cedric manifest

His returning ship manifest looks similar.

Albert Kokoska George Washington manifest

 

Michael Kokoska’s Ship Manifests

Albert’s brother Michael Kokoska has a manifest leaving the U.S. that looks similar to Albert’s.

Michael Kokoska Ship No 39

Michael died in June 1918 in France. His remains were temporarily interred in France and did not return to the U.S. until 1921. The manifest for repatriated soldiers looks slightly different from a manifest on which there are living soldiers.

Michael Kokoksa USAT Wheaton

Do you see the difference? There is small print at the top of the manifest which states names will be grouped by sick/wounded/deceased, etc. I’m not sure on which page of the manifest that code exists, because it does not show up on this page. The reference cable code does not appear on the living manifests. This likely refers to the cable telegram sent to the family member notifying them of the return of remains. Michael’s WWI burial file (see below) has these telegrams in the documents. The families were notified of the approximate date a funeral ship would return to the U.S. and that they would be notified when the remains would arrive in their hometown.

Suggestions for Attaching to your Tree

It is always exciting to find new records on Ancestry, but please be aware of what you are looking at before you add it to your family tree without any explanation. It could be the opposite of what it appears to be. When you attach a manifest for a deceased soldier, please add a note in the description field for the fact. State that this is for a deceased WWI soldier. Provide additional details or refer to another fact you created.

More Information on WWI Deaths

The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, has the Burial File, which was created for every soldier who died in WWI. For those researching WWII, this file was renamed the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). The Burial File is important for researchers because it contains information on a soldier’s death, temporary burial, permanent burial, condition of the body, and usually contains handwritten correspondence from the family to the government. You will learn a lot about your soldier’s service and family from this file.

To learn more on researching WWI or WWII service, please visit my website, the World War II Research and Writing Center, read the educational article, and explore the resources.

Jennifer Holik

Jennifer Holik is an international WWII researcher, speaker, and author of the only authoritative books on the market, “Stories from the World War II Battlefield,” which teach individuals how to research WWII service across any branch. She can be found at her website The World War II Research and Writing Center or on Facebook.

8 Comments

  1. Karen Cook

    I found this pretty awesome, but am wondering about troops from WWII? Where would I find ships’ manifests for them? Also, my mother, who was German, returned to the States with my dad in 1949. They were already married, so she was NOT a “war bride.” I would love to find that record!

  2. Regina Gualco

    Thank you for highlighting and explaining this collection. I found my great-uncle’s outbound and return manifests. I wasn’t sure the outbound was him, since it listed his mother with a surname I didn’t recognize–but a little searching on Ancestry confirmed a previously unknown husband for my great-grandmother! That makes six husbands I’ve found so far…

  3. Karen Cook – the WWII manifests are not digitized at this time and would be at NARA College Park. You would also sometimes find lists within unit records there. If your dad was discharged from the Army prior to 1949, he would not have come home on a USAT, but by another ship or possibly plane if that was an option. It is also possible he was discharged after being returned to the U.S. with his unit when he had enough points and then somehow made it back to Germany. I think that is less likely, but a possibility. Always explore all options. If you haven’t attempted to get his records and need help, feel free to email me. I’m always taking new clients.

  4. Edward Garcia

    I am currently researching two unrelated individuals who both served in France during WWI. In both cases I have found their respective outward bound manifests but in both cases I have been unable to find a return for either. Both were wounded in action and returned home and I was wondering if they being wounded may have resulted in them being listed in something other than the U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists.

  5. Member Services Social Support Team

    @Regina: That’s great to hear, good detective work! We wish you the best of luck with your further research! 🙂

  6. Kathy

    I found my great uncle’s name on the U.S. Army Transport Service Passenger Lists, with the ship name and date, the “George Washington”, 1918 Jul 18-1918 Sept 30. It shows the port as Hoboken, NJ. Can anyone tell me where I go from here? How do I find out where the ship was headed? I’d like to find out about his service in WWI.

  7. Kathy,
    They were going to France. If you’d like to learn how to do WWI research, it is the same process as WWII laid out on my website. I can also help you learn more about his service through available records NPRC will not search for you. Feel free to contact me and visit the website to learn more. Jennifer – article author

Join the Discussion

We really do appreciate your feedback, and ask that you please be respectful to other commenters and authors. Any abusive comments may be moderated. For help with a specific problem, please contact customer service.