In 1917 and 1918,approximately 24 million men living in the United States completed a World WarI 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 wasabout 100 million individuals.
In other words, close to 25% of the total populationis represented in these records.
These DraftRegistration cards are extremely helpful as they:
- Cover such a large percentage of the U.S. male population that you are almost guaranteed to find at least one U.S. male relative’s information.
- Containmore than dates and places: signatureof the person, birthplace, citizenship, physicaldescription, anyhandicaps or reasons they could not serve, location, occupation, nearestfamily
- Afew immigrants (especially Italians) wrote their last names first, resulting insome cards being filed under first names.
- Somecards (esp. Hispanics) are filed under their mother's maiden name surname ifthe registrant gave both parents' surnames.
- Menwho resided in British territories sometimes listed themselves simply asBritish citizens without noting their origin in Canada, Australia, Ireland,Jamaica, etc.
- Illiteratemen were unable to spell their names and birth location, so be flexible whensearching for specific names.
- If your family member had his 21st birthday between 5 June 1917 and the summer of 1918, his registration card may also include his father’s birthplace as well as his own birthplace.
- Becauseeach registered male had to sign the draft card, you can see the actualsignature of your relative (provided they could write).
- Notall men who registered for the draft actually served in the military; not allmen who served in the military registered for the draft.
- Onlya small percentage of men who registered were actually called up for militaryservice.
- Ifa registrant was not living in his home town, he could register elsewhere andthe card would be sent to his home draft board.
- Insome rural counties, it may have been easier to travel to the bordering countyto register and request that the registration be forwarded to the actualcounty.
- Someregistrations were never transferred; therefore, an individual’s card mayappear in a neighboring county or state.
- Non-citizenswere required to register, but were not subject to induction into the Americanmilitary.