Created during World War I, the war service flag was commonly seen  in residential areas across the United States. Each blue star on a flag represented a loved one serving in the war. When a loved one died, the family converted his blue star to gold. During the war, the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) combed through weekly casualty reports and created an index card for each Alabamian killed.

Immediately following the armistice, ADAH staff mailed questionnaires to Alabama Gold Star families in order to collect additional information on each fallen service member. With their responses, families were asked to include photographs, letters, and other material that paid tribute to their loved ones. A Gold Star book was planned but never published. To make the files more accessible, ADAH created the online, searchable Alabama World War I Gold Star Database.

The database documents men killed in action and men who succumbed to injuries or disease during the war. It also includes entries on decorated service members who survived the war. The files feature a wide array of Alabamians and stories of heroic deeds and tragic deaths.