World War I Draft Registration Records
by Mandy Mathews, Family Historian
WWI presents the next large mass group of military records to search for the United States. The WWI draft registration records are the most readily available records to search. WWI draft registration effected men between ages 16 and 45. There were almost 24 million participants in the draft. The draft registration took place over a period of two years, 1917 and 1918.
As genealogists, the records contain some especially significant information because the individual was asked to state his exact date of birth as well as exact birth place. This is especially important to those born before the required state birth registration. There were three different drafts, each with their own form. The first and second draft forms requested exact birth information for men born between June 6, 1886 and August 28, 1897.
The three draft registration dates were:
- June 5, 1917 - all men between the ages of 21 and 31 residing in the U.S. - whether native born, naturalized, or alien
- June 5, 1918 - men who reached age 21 after June 5, 1917. (A supplemental registration, included in the second registration, was held on August 24, 1918, for men who turned 21 years old after June 5, 1918.)
- September 12, 1918 - all men between age 18 and 45.
The WWI draft registration cards may be the only source to obtain birth date and location for foreign born men who never applied for naturalization. Additional information found on the draft registration cards include; the registrant's full name, address, phone number, date and place of birth, age, occupation and employer, the name and address of the nearest contact or relative, and the signature of the registrant. Other boxes on the draft cards asked for descriptive details such as race, height, weight, eye and hair color and other physical characteristics. As previously mentioned, the three registration dates produced a different registration card for each date.
Please note that the WWI draft registration cards are not actual military records. The individual or someone writing for them if they were not able to write for themselves filled out the registration cards. They are a valuable source of information for any genealogist or family historian. They can be located in several different locations. Microfilmed versions of the cards are available through your local LDS Family History Center. There are also several indexes published on the internet, as well as some subscription websites where you can view the actual images. Have fun searching these records. They add detail and color to your family history.