World War I Draft Registration

"Using World War I Civilian Draft Registration"
by Lisa South, Certified Genealogist

In 1917 and 1918 all men born between 1873 and 1900 had to register for the draft. This included immigrants that were not yet naturalized. Most of these men weren't required to serve, but this registration created approximately 24 million WWI draft registration cards.

There were three separate registrations and each asked for slightly different information, but in general the registration cards will contain the registrants full name, birth date and place, citizenship status, information about nearest relative, physical description, address and occupation. Information that can help you find missing links in your family tree.

At least 5% (this figure will continue to increase) of these draft registration cards have been placed on-line and can be easily located. For the others, the best way to access the cards is usually to search the appropriate microfilm your local Family History Library. Search the Family History Library Catalog under "Keyword Search." Enter the search words " World War I draft registration cards" to locate the film numbers for the cards. You can also access the Family History Library Catalog at

There may be a few problems in locating your Ancestor's card. If the man was illiterate, you will need to get creative about possible spellings of his name. Many Italian immigrants listed their last names first, therefore the cards were filed under the first name. Because of the naming system of taking both parents surnames and placing the mother's last, Hispanics may be filed under the mother's maiden name.

As you evaluate the records you should be aware that men listed as British citizens could come from Britain, Canada, Australia etc.

Ancestor Search

Enter Ancestor's Last Name:
Advanced Search
See what information we have in our database of over 190 million unique entries. Browse Alphabetically
  • Photos
  • Biographies
  • Histories
  • Country Origin
  • Alternate Spellings
  • Number of Generations
“...One person can't possibly do all of the work alone. They need help to speed up the work...The only way to do this is with your wonderful service...”
—Jeff Bagley
More Success Stories

Watch Demo

Use the buttons below to navigate through all four demos.

Previous Restart Next

Demo: Introduction

Learn More