WWI Draft Registration Information

Registration Cards

These valuable genealogical records can provide: birth dates prior to being recorded at the county level,  information regarding citizenship & naturalization, the second page of the card gives the person's physical description,  and on the bottom of the first page, is the person's signature!  A great genealogical resourceSLCL Special Collections: Genealogy-WW1 Draft Card Questions is a good site to view samples of the different registration cards.

Please be advised that some of this info is the property of others and is being used for nonprofit purposes.

World War I Draft Registration Cards
by Warren Blatt

INTRODUCTION
Over twenty-four million--- men registered for the draft for the First World War in 1917 and 1918.  There were three draft registrations, which eventually included all men (whether native born, naturalized, or alien) between the ages of 18 and 45.

One unique feature of these records is that they contain the exact place of birth -- town/village, county/province,
state/nation -- for registrants born between June 6, 1886 and August 28, 1897 (those aged 21-31 who registered in the 1st or 2nd drafts, about 45% of the total).  This may be the ONLY source for determining the town of origin of someone who was never naturalized, or someone who was naturalized via their father's papers before 1906.

THREE REGISTRATIONS
During World War I there were three registrations:
1- The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.
2- The second, on June 5, 1918, registered those who attained age 21 after June 5, 1917.  (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.)
3- The third registration was held on September 12, 1918 for men aged 18 through 45.
At each of the three registrations, a different form was used, with a slight variation of questions asked.  All three registrations include full name, home address, exact date of birth, age in years, occupation, name and address of employer, citizenship status, citizen of what country, race, eye color, hair color, height, build, city/county and state of the local draft board, date of registration, and signature of applicant.

At the first registration, the following additional information was recorded: exact birthplace, dependents, marital status, previous military service, and grounds for exemption.  At the second registration, the following were also recorded: exact birthplace, nearest relative and address, and father's birthplace.  At the third registration, for men aged 18-21 and 31-45 (born between September 13, 1873 and September 12, 1900), the name and address of nearest relative were also recorded. Although the 2nd and 3rd drafts ask for name and address of nearest relative, they don't specify what the relationship is. Note that the third registration did NOT request birthplace.

The registration cards consist of 24.2 million cards of men who registered for the draft (about 23% of the American population in 1918).

ARRANGEMENT
The records are arranged alphabetically by the name of the state; thereunder alphabetically by name of the county or city; thereunder by draft board (for large cities); thereunder alphabetically by the names of registrants.

For those in rural areas, one should be able to find a registrant's card by knowing his name and the county in which he registered.  In large cities and in some large counties, the search can be more difficult -- knowing a street address is usually necessary to determine the correct draft board.  For instance, there were 189 local boards in New York City, 86 in Chicago, and 25 in Boston.  (See "Finding Aids" below).

AVAILABILITY
The original draft registration cards are stored at the National Archives - Southeast Region near Atlanta.  These records are currently being microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah (The Mormons) for the National Archives.  Since 1987, they have filmed states A-S alphabetically (plus Wisconsin), over 3,500 reels of microfilm thus far.  They will soon complete the remaining states, T-W, and the resulting series will comprise National Archives Microfilm Publication M1509.

These microfilms are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and are thus available for borrowing through all local Family History Centers.  The films are also available at the National Archives in Washington, and the twelve Regional Archives will receive the films for the states corresponding to their regions as filming proceeds.

HOW TO ACCESS
You currently have two avenues to access these records: either from the National Archives - Southeast Region, or via the Mormon Family History Centers.

To have the National Archives staff search these records for you, get a "World War I Registration Card Request" form, or send a letter to:

    National Archives - Southeast Region
    1557 St. Joseph Avenue
    East Point, GA  30344
    (404) 763-7477

Enclose a check for $10.00 for each request payable to "National Archives Trust Fund"; they will return your check if the record is not found. For each card requested, supply the full name, approximate date of birth, and the place of residence when he registered. (A street address is required for urban areas) The response time is about two weeks.

Alternately, you can search the records yourself, by borrowing microfilms through LDS Family History Centers.  You can find the microfilm numbers in the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) microfiche, in the Locality section under the heading "UNITED STATES - MILITARY RECORDS - WORLD WAR, 1914-1918", or on the FamilySearch computer CD-ROM under number 504818.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
National Archives and Records Administration Draft Registration

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Last updated Tuesday, July 11, 2006