Resources for Genealogists

Researching Individuals in WW1 Records  

Start Your Research

You may first want to search the WW1 Draft registration cards for basic information on individuals (see Draft cards section below).  Nearly all men between the ages of 18-45 registered during the years the draft was implemented, about 23% of the U.S. population.  

If you are interested in researching military service records, this article will provide you with a good overview of military records at the National Archives.  
 

Accordion

 

Records of Military Agencies Relating to African Americans from the Post-World War I Period to the Korean War , Reference Information Paper

Blacks in the Military, resources compiled by NARA's Archives Library Information Center (ALIC)

 

Background

The WWI draft registration cards consist of approximately 24,000,000 cards of men who registered for the draft, about 23% of the population in 1918.  The cards are arranged by state.  Not all of the men who registered for the draft actually served in the military, and not all who served in the military registered for the draft.

The WWI Selective Service System was in place from May, 1917 to May, 1919.  There were 3 registrations:

  1. June 5, 1917 -- all men ages 21-31
  2. June 5, 1918 -- those who attained age 21 after June 5, 1917
  3. Sept. 12, 1918 -- all men ages 18-45

What Can You Find in the Cards?

While the 10-12 questions varied slightly between the 3 registrations, information one can find there generally includes:

  • full name
  • date and place of birth
  • race
  • citizenship status
  • occupation and place of employment
  • personal description
  • nearest relative (last two versions)
  • signature

The draft cards contain no information about an individual's military service.  They are not service cards.  Learn more about the draft registration cards

View Registration Cards Online

World War I Draft Registration Cards, digitized on the FamilySearch website (free)

World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, digitized on the Ancestry.com website (free on NARA computers, otherwise by subscription)

Additional Resources

International Researchers "Jazzed" about Southeast Region's WWI Draft Registration Cards, NARA news item

Selected World War I Draft Registration Cards of the Famous, Infamous, and Interesting, from the National Archives at Atlanta

 

See also our main WW1 topics page 

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