Wednesday, December 24, 2008

World War I Draft Registration Cards

  On May 18, 1917, during World War I, the Selective Service Act was passed authorizing the President to temporarily increase the military armed forces by the process of selecting men for induction into the military service.  In 1917 and 1918, approximately 24 million men (98% of men present in America) born between 1873 and 1900 completed draft registration cards.  The selective service boards were responsible for registering men, classifying them, taking into consideration needs for manpower in certain industries and in agriculture, as well as certain special family situations of the registrants, handling any appeals of these classifications, determining the medical fitness of individual registrants, determining the order in which registrants would be called, calling registrants, and placing them on trains to training centers. Local boards were established for each county or similar subdivision in each state, and for each 30,000 persons (approximately) in each city or county with a population over 30,000.
  During World War I there were three registrations.  
  The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31. These men were born between 1886-1896.  They answered a form containing twelve questions including order and serial numbers (assigned by the Selective Service System), full name, date and place of birth, race, citizenship, occupation, personal description, and signature. 

Example of Registration Card A

  The second registration, on June 5, 1918, registered those who attained age 21 after June 5, 1917.  These men were born between 1896-1897.  (A supplemental registration was held on August 24, 1918, for those becoming 21 years old after June 5, 1918.  This was included in the second registration.)  The form had ten questions including name, date of birth, birthplace, citizenship and father's birthplace.

Example of Registration Card B

  The third registration was held on September 12, 1918, for men age 18 through 45.  These men were born 1872-1886 and 1897-1900.  They answered a twenty question form which included name, age in years, date of birth - not birthplace, citizenship, and address of nearest kin. 

Example of Registration Card C


  After the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, the activities of the Selective Service System were rapidly curtailed.  On March 31, 1919, all local, district, and medical advisory boards were closed. 
[Source:  Western History and Genealogy Department, The Denver Public Library, Colorado, and examples from Ancestry.com.]

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