While not exclusively for genealogy, the National Archives is a treasure trove of information which is used by genealogists nationwide. One can find many documents online, order microfiche or receive the records electronically via a PDF document. Some of the information is considered archival, meaning that it belongs in the public domain, while other information is classified (for national security) or can only be accessed by either the person named in the document or by next of kin.
Receiving information from the National Archives can be as simple as ordering online and paying for the copy fees or visiting one of their Federal Archive Centers. Researching onsite is free and the public is welcome to visit in normal business hours.
Not only can one access documents, it may be possible to order military medals and awards earned by one’s ancestor. (Different branches of the service vary on the cost or eligibility of reordering medals or awards.)
Researching in the National Archives allows both the avid and casual genealogist access to the following records (among others):
Additionally, this site has much information for genealogists such as:
One could quip about the fact that this is a government site and as such expect glitches. However, it runs quite smoothly. The learning curve for research is steeper than for the more friendly commercial sites. Ordering documents involves some knowledge of the proper forms to submit and can take up to 90 days for an initial quote for cost or update on your records.
Costs vary greatly for this site when having a federal employee research and duplicate documents for you.
While not a fault of the site itself, it should be noted that many Army and Army Air Force records were destroyed in a catastrophic fire in 1973. Millions of military records were lost in the conflagration.
I've gotten several copies of documents from the national archives about my ancestors. Some years ago it was the only site to get alot of the information
I find this site very difficult to use and haven't found anything useful for my genealogy.