Bureaucracy: World War I Casualty Lists

Casualty Lists, Authorized US War Department, Disseminated by Chicago Post Office, Printing Office, 1918, Washington DC.


The Casualty Lists contain the names of American soldiers killed in action, wounded, missing, imprisoned, and deceased (from disease, wounds, or accident) during World War I.  They also include information about the soldier’s next of kin and emergency address. The Lists were circulated by the War Department to all U.S. newspapers through several press associations. Editors were instructed to print the lists only after the release date determined by the government and included on each casualty list. For families seeking news of their relatives, the Casualty Lists stood as the first object in which their loved ones were remembered, an object soon joined by flags, gravestones, and photographs. The Lists illustrate how the bureaucracy of the U.S. government sought to ensure that information about war casualties was circulated but also to control the timing and nature of that circulation. The War Department created a mechanism for remembering the wounded, missing, and deceased soldiers, and it used the mass media form of the newspaper to memorialize their names in print.

Find Casualty Lists in UNT Special Collections' Finding Aids.