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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Age for WWI Draft Registration


I am wondering, what age you had to be to sign up for the WWI draft?

There were different age requirements for each of the three registrations and one supplement. The National Archives website explains the distinctions. "During World War I there were three registrations:

  • The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.
  • 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.)
  • The third registration was held on September 12, 1918, for men age 18 through 45."
    From: viewed 12 June 2005.

Ol' Myrt here learned a lot about the 24 million World War I Draft Registration Cards before viewing some of them in person at the Southeast Region Archives, then located in East Point, Georgia. I simply couldn't believe that the cards for all states were housed there, since the usual definition of a regional archives branch includes housing records peculiar that that region.

To locate a card on a specific individual, I had to complete a form indicating the state AND the county where the person had registered. This made my search a little bit tricky, since I never knew where my maternal grandfather Lowell Froman lived until later in his life. Then the cards were filed alphabetically. In each of the seven boxes I searched, there were problems with the alphabetical filing, probably due to human error.

While in that cramped old reading room, there were four of us going through the boxes of cards we'd requested from the back stack. One dear woman was upset because she couldn't find her relative who served in the war. Another researcher pointed out that IF that individual had volunteered or was already in the service at the time of the draft registration, he would not have registered for the draft.


-- ORIGINAL RECORDS From the NARA website describes the move from East Point to 5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, Georgia 30260, 770-968-2100: "Effective April 1, 2005, all genealogical and microfilm research will be conducted at the Morrow facility. Textual holdings will be transferred from the East Point facility from mid-February to mid-June 2005; the most current schedule for holdings transfers can be accessed at" Viewed 12 June 2005. It would appear that these files were the first to be moved.

-- MICROFILM: NARA microfilm publication M1509, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards. The roll numbers consist of the state's postal abbreviation (such as AK for Alaska) followed by a number. See the listing of film numbers at: In addition to each state in existence at the time, there is a series titled "Indians, Prisoners, Insane, In Hospital, Late Registrants." Here are the ones I would search for my maternal grandfather who was probably living in Chelan County, Washington at the time.

NARA Record Group M1509
MICROFILM: WA3 which includes:
Benton County T-Z
Chelan County A-Z
Clallam County A-C

If I needed to look at microfilm for Pierce County, Washington, that would be a little more challenging since it appears there may be duplication on 2 microfilm:
NARA Record Group M1509
MICROFILM: WA21 which includes:
Pend Oreille County A-Z
Pierce County #1 A-Z
Pierce County #2 A-August Bren

MICROFILM: WA22 which includes:
Pierce County #2 August Bren-Z

NOTE: In the examples above, WA=Washington, and the number following indicates which of the 61 rolls of Washington state microfilm to view.

SCANNED IMAGES ONLINE: Viewed on a membership basis, or through AncestryPlus if your local Family History Center provides free access. Do not be led into thinking an ancestor who doesn't show up in the database didn't register for the draft in 1917-1918, since this project isn't complete. The advantage is that one may search WITHOUT knowing the state and county where the gentleman may have registered. For detailed information on how to search the WWI Draft Registration Cards database at, see this article:
Searching the World War I Draft Cards [at Ancestry] by Michael John Neill. Viewed 12 June 2005.

Here is the scanned image (from of my paternal grandfather's draft registration card. He is listed as:
1561 No. 154
Shirley Player
Age: 20.
Residing at: 473 North 6th West, Salt Lake City, Utah
Date of Birth: August 4, 1888
Where Born: Salt Lake City, Utah
Occupation: Surveyor
Employer: Salt Lake City
Where Employed: Salt Lake City, Utah
Claim any exemption: No
Marital Status: Single (He and my grandmother Myrtle didn't marry until 5 June 1917, six days later.)
Race: Caucasian
Build: Medium, slender.
Eyes: L. Brown
Hair: Brown.
Bald: No.
Disabled: No.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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