Training the Soldier

To train National Guard troops and new recruits, the War Department established over 30 camps in the United States. Soldiers were taught weapons proficiency, basic drill orders, physical fitness, military discipline, and command structure. After overseas deployment, doughboys received additional training from British and French instructors.


Chemical Warfare Service - Drills - Instruction - Scotch Sergeant giving instructions as to adjusting gas masks

"Getting em up" at U.S.Naval Training Camp, Seattle, Washington. Webster & Stevens.

Americans receiving machine gun instruction from British instructor. Near Moulle, France. 5-22-1918

Ambulance Training Corps, Allentown, Pennsylvania



Explore photographs, textual, and other records related to training the soldier in World War I in our Catalog.

There are more than 110,000 World War I photographs in the National Archives Catalog.

Interested in further online research?  Visit the National Archives Catalog to begin your own search.

While many resources are available online for research, there are many more records to discover in National Archives research rooms across the country. The following records have been described at the Series and File Unit level, but have not yet been digitized. This list is not exhaustive; please consult our Catalog to browse more records, and contact the Reference Unit listed in each description for more information. 


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 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

Explore teaching and learning resources for World War I, including primary sources, online tools, lesson plans, and multimedia.