World War I Draft

About World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

This database contains an index and images of World War I draft registration cards completed by approximately 24 million men living in the U.S. in 1917 and 1918. Information that may be found for an individual includes: name, place of residence, date and place of birth, race, country of citizenship, occupation, and employer.
In 1917 and 1918, approximately 24 million men living in the United States completed a World War I draft registration card. These registration cards represent approximately 98% of the men under the age of 46. The total U.S. population in 1917-1918 was about 100 million individuals. In other words, close to 25% of the total population is represented in these records.

History

On 6 April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and officially entered World War I. Six weeks later, on 18 May 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed, which authorized the president to increase the military establishment of the United States. As a result, every male living within the United States between the ages of eighteen and forty-five was required to register for the draft.

The period of 1880-1920 was a high immigration period to the United States. Young men were required to register for the draft regardless of their U.S. citizenship status. Of course, not all the men who registered actually served in the armed forces, and there were some who served in the war but did not register for the draft.

Registration

The World War I draft consisted of three separate registrations.

First Registration. The registration on 5 June 1917, was for men aged twenty-one to thirty-one—men born between 6 June 1886 and 5 June 1896.

Second Registration. The registration on 5 June 1918, was for men who had turned twenty-one years of age since the previous registration—men born between 6 June 1896 and 5 June 1897. Men who had not previously registered and were not already in the military also registered. In addition, a supplemental registration on 24 August 1918, was for men who turned twenty-one years of age since 5 June 1918.

Third Registration. The registration on 12 Sept 1918, was for men aged eighteen to twenty-one and thirty-one to forty-five—men born between 11 Sept 1872 and 12 Sept 1900.

The complete registration included men between the ages of 18 and 45—males born between 1873 and 1900—who were not already in the military.

Registration Cards

Each of the three separate registrations used a slightly different version of the draft registration card. Because different cards were used, the information included in each varies.

The card used for the first registration (sometimes called the Twelve-Question card because of twelve questions on the front) includes this information: name, age, address, date and place of birth, citizenship status, employer’s name and address, dependent information, marital status, race, military service, and physical appearance.

The card used for the second registration (sometimes called the Ten-Question card because of ten questions on the front) includes this information: name, age, address, date and place of birth, father’s birthplace, citizenship status, occupation, employer’s name and address, dependent information, name and address of nearest relative, and physical appearance.

The card used for the third registration (sometimes called the Twenty-Question card because of twenty questions on the front) includes the name, address, age, date of birth, race, citizenship status, occupation, employer’s name and address, name and address of nearest relative, and physical appearance.

 The Cards Today

The original records are kept at the National Archives—Southeast Region in East Point, Georgia. Microfilm copies are at the National Archives regions that serve their respective states. In addition, some large libraries have the film of these cards for their own state.

 

 

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