Massive World War II collection debuts online

NEW YORK (AP) -- An online collection of World War II documents, billed as the world's largest, debuted last week., which archives historical documents on the Web, developed the collection with the National Archives and Records Administration.

The collection starts with 9 million "hero pages" profiling individual U.S. veterans of World War II with data taken from Army enlistment records. Veterans and their families and friends can add further information and photos.

The project also includes an online reproduction of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, which is inscribed with the names of more than 1,100 crewmen who died when the battleship was sunk on Dec. 7, 1941. Visitors to the Web site can search for the names of the victims.

Other highlights of the collection include the personnel rolls of Pearl Harbor, reports of missing air crews, submarine patrol reports and naval press clippings. Also included are extensive analyses of the Allied bombing strategy against Japan, including target photographs. Chief Executive and President Russ Wilding says the collection will mark the debut of 50,000 photos exclusive to the site.

"Our hope is to engage people to share their stories about relatives and friends who served in World War II," he says. "Many of the veterans have passed away, and the number of living World War II veterans continues to shrink. We're trying to facilitate the capturing of stories before they're lost forever."

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.