Posted by Ancestry Team on April 19, 2018 in Guest Bloggers

I recently read an Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) for a Jewish soldier in WWII named Harvey P. Robitshek. This IDPF was unlike other I have read in that it is 361 pages long. Now I’ve read hundreds of IDPFs across all branches of the military for WWII, but this one really stood out.


Harvey’s father asked questions and demanded answers from the Army and U.S. government about the death of his son, the location of his burial site in Europe, his personal effects, the repatriation of his remains, and many other questions. This was a man who was not going to accept the usual form letter sent to the families after their loved one died.

While I’ve never written an article specifically about the IDPF for the Ancestry blog, you can read about this type of file and the latest news on accessing it in the Education section of my website. This is an important record for researchers who had a family member die in the war or who is still considered Missing In Action. There are many examples for all military branches of this file under the Research section on my website if you would like to view some of these files. Harvey’s will be on my website after I write some articles about the contents of his file.

Reading Harvey’s file brought up a lot of questions about who he was and I wanted to learn more about his service and family. To begin this quest, I searched for his name on Ancestry and one source that showed up was the U.S., WWII Jewish Servicemen Cards, 1942-1947. This link takes you to Harvey’s two entries.


A couple of years ago when I contacted the AJHS after learning about these records while working on a client project, I learned that they do not hold military service files, but you can request copies of the full documents from which these cards were made. The fees to obtain the paperwork was not significant. Through the original record I was able to learn more about the soldier I was researching.

What can we learn about Harvey from the two cards which appear in our search?

  1. He died in service on 13 November 1944 in France.
  2. He received a Purple Heart.
  3. We know who his parents are and their address.
  4. We know what branch of the military he was in.

While we have his Army Serial Number (ASN), Branch of the military, parents’ names, and address, we are missing his unit. Sadly, the cards do not contain that information. This is a valuable resource, regardless, especially if one is looking for the ASN or award information.

All may not be lost in finding a unit though. When you request the papers for the soldier, there is a section called SERVICE DETAILS. In this, the individual typing the information may provide a unit. For the client I was working for, the application states the soldier was in the 1st Division. While that doesn’t get us down to the Company level to search Morning Reports, we at least have a Division starting point. Every clue is important when researching WWI, WWII, or Korean War military service.

Have you used the WWII Jewish Servicemen Cards and obtained the paperwork they refer to? What did you learn about your soldier? Have you found other Jewish resources useful in locating information? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!



  1. Miekedol

    Good morning ancestry,

    Because your support staff can not be contacted I am using this method to contact you.

    Please delete my account.

    Thanks you

    Kind regards


    • Madeleine

      I think you need to go to your ‘Your Account’ page and cancel your sub. From what I’ve seen in the blurbs, Ancestry does not delete trees. I suggest you have a look at the FAQ’s to find out more.

    • sokolee

      Your account is not deleted until you have contacted Ancestry and obtained a cancellation number…they will continue to bill you unless you do this. Call 1 800 262 3787.

  2. Nancy Marlene Ware

    My daughter bought this ancestry
    For myself and herself. She received hers I did not receive mine Her name is Deanna Miller &
    My name Nancy Marlene Ware I was a McGee before a Ware can you help me? I still have my kit except the sputtam I mailed in. I
    Know your dealing with a lot of people. Maybe you can tell me how to find mine on my phone.

    • Member Services Social Support Team

      @Nancy: We apologize for the delay and we’re sorry to hear that you had sisues with this. We would of course like to help with this if it has not already been resolved. We’ve edited your comment since it included personal details susch as your phone number. Unfortunately we cannot make outbound calls but we ask that you please call us at 1-800-ANCESTRY (1-800-262-3787) between the hours of 9am to 11pm EST, seven days a week. This way we will be able to assist you further.

  3. Joyce R.

    My grandfather shows up in this collection, but his card has a hole punched in it to indicate he was authenticated not to be Jewish. He was a baptized and practicing Lutheran, and would have indicated that when enlisting. Why would the Bureau of War Records have thought him to be Jewish?

  4. Norma Perry

    I need to see how you can help
    My great grand son wants to do a family tree he is 12years old on are family can you help me


  5. Christine J McClure

    Purchased ancestry dna only a few days ago.. received it the same day they decided to go on sale. I called to see if they would honor the price. instead had snotty rep tell me they wouldn’t refund shipping(i understand) and a fee for administrative or honor the price. That the product is now contaminated? so i am using a contaminated product? I am so discusted that they wouldn’t honor the price and would not recommend a company you can’t trust.

  6. Raephaella Angelillo

    WHAT a total ripoff Ancestry is. All I received was account of a cousin I know and a kid I don’t know who is in this generation. What about my grandparents who came over at the turn of the century. Would like to have known when and from where, etc. Have written several times…nothing.

  7. Raephaella Angelillo

    Do you read comments? After I type it in, it is deleted and I’m asked to comment again. Ancestry is a ripoff as I’ve been writing frequently with no responses, ever. My results were a cousin, alive, whom I know and a young lady. What about my ANCESTRY, like grandparents and when they came to the U.S. or about them and their nationality or mine? I’m waiting for an answer which I have never gotten and it’s been a long time coming. Is this a ripoff???

    • sokolee

      You have to do the research to find these people. Ancestry never told you they would find your ancestors, they said they would tell you where your ancestors lived at one time, and give you a list of people who share DNA with you. Nor can they match you with people who never took the test. I think you misunderstood about the test.

  8. Terrence Jacobs

    Your telephone support is pitiful. I spent 2 1/2 hours on hold. Ancestry is not what it portrays to be. You don’t have the qualified agents to do the job necessary. I find it hard to recommend to others.
    P.S. 2 1/2 hours of Vivaldi is more than Vivaldi could take.

    • Margaret Shirley

      Perhaps you agree with Stravinsky, who said Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 500 times?

  9. Claudia L Villarreal (born Horner)

    I want to get my DNA done. But so many seem dissatisfied with the services of
    I’m not rich so I’d like to get back the answer to all the questions I’ve had to live with. Not more questions that need answers.
    Is ancestry the best way or should I go through another source?

  10. Jeanne Walker

    I have only been a member about 2weeks, but am satisfied with the help(hints)you have given me. Some have worked out surprisingly well. Others are a bust. That is what I expected. I have found and refound relatives I knew or ones I never heard of, but have searched and, “surprise” found real relatives of mine. You just need to ask the right questions and research the clues. Be proactive if you want results. JW

  11. Wynona Burgstiner

    I am having problems with the website itself. I am in the middle of verifying a very large family research file and have problems with a very slow system. I am also getting kicked out as UNABLE to access this file at this time, or clicking on a name and getting someone else, it seems to me with the cost of this and the size of the US and European records that Ancestry would invest in some really big IBM servers to hold records. I am so tired of having to wait for long periods only to be told not accessible, not available, etc. Anyone else out there having these problems? It is getting beyond annoying after 6 months of struggling with records I can’t correct or even access. They also tell you the error occured and they will be working on it ! If so it is repeating itself with the same files plus numerous other files. Other than these problems that have cropped up in the last 6 months I have really enjoyed doing the research and the records actually being added weekly. I do believe that Ancestry is going to have to boast there ability to be more timely is they continue to charge the rates they are charging.

    • John Syverson

      Yep. For a while the main page was redirecting me to a username/password login page with no other info. Now it takes me to their regular launch page but I am unable to login (and I know my password – not gonna try to reset it!). I also use MacKiev’s Family Tree Maker which has their connection to Ancestry shut off due to connection issues. So this has to be an issue on Ancestry’s side. The software has had trouble connecting to their servers for a couple days. I think we just have to be patient. Just wish they posted a standard “system down” message on their main page. I even considered chatting with my software support but I’m sure they are in the same boat as we are right now.

Comments are closed.