Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday's Tip: Use the U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

The record collection for the U.S. World War I Draft Registrations Cards, 1917-1918  is one of my favorite collections.  This collection is available on:

*  FamilySearch.org (Free):  30,145,165 entries: (  https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1968530 )

*  Ancestry.com ($$):   24,613,834 entries ( https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/ww1draft/ )

*  MyHeritage.com ($$): 24,870,517 entries ( https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10513/united-states-world-war-i-draft-registrations-1917-1918?s=1742741 )

*  Findmypast ($$): 
 25,166,145 entries ( https://www.findmypast.com/search/results?sourcecategory=armed%20forces%20%26%20conflict&sourcecountry=united%20states&collection=first%20world%20war )

The description of the collection on the FamilySearch collection page says:

The collection consists of an index and images of draft registration cards for World War I. Three registrations were conducted between 1917 and 1918. The first was held on June 5, 1917, for men between the ages of 21 and 31; the second was held on June 5,1918, for men who had turned 21 since the first registration, and the third was held on September 12, 1918, for men between the ages of 18 and 45.
The registration includes cards for 24,000,000 men. Approximately 2,800,000 men were inducted into military service.The cards are arranged by state, by city or county, by local draft board, and then alphabetically by surname. The draft registration cards are part of Record Group 163: Records of the Selective Service System (World War I),1917-1939, NARA microfilm publication M1509. Classifications lists, induction notices, docket books and other records of the local boards will be located at NARA Regional Archives in Boston,New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Fort worth, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. See the collection inventory tables below for more information.
The following information may be found in these records:
World War I had 3 different draft registrations. Each registration was slightly different.  The information provided included:
  • Name
  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Draft registration date
  • Sometimes, father’s birthplace
  • Name of nearest relative
  • Age in years
  • Sex is implied, since all registrants were males
  • Marital status
  • List of any dependents
  • Address
 This FamilySearch record collection currently has 30,145,645 entries.  It is an indexed collection with record images.  

I entered several exact surnames in the "Last Name" search field and found (on FamilySearch):

*  508 for "Seaver"       
*  124 for "Seavers"
*  71 for "Seever"
*  178 for "Seevers"
*  310 for "Sever"
*  222 for "Severs"

*  44 for "Carringer"
*  15 for "Caringer"

*  59 for "Vaux"

*  95 for "Auble"

*  302,822 for "Smith"
I entered several exact surnames in the "Last Name" search field and found (on Ancestry):

*  418 for "Seaver"       
*  109 for "Seavers"
*  59 for "Seever"
*  154 for "Seevers"
*  246 for "Sever"
*  179 for "Severs"

*  40 for "Carringer"
*  17 for "Caringer"

*  63 for "Vaux"

*  77 for "Auble"

* 238,664 for "Smith"

The differences between FamilySearch and Ancestry may be due to indexing differences or record field inclusion on one site and not the other.  I did not check MyHeritage or Findmypast.

Here is an example of a record summary from this collection on FamilySearch:

By clicking on "View the original document," the user can see both sides of the actual draft registration card.  The card contains a signature of the person on the left-hand image, and a physical description of the person on the right-hand image.   In addition, an age, birth date (but no birth place), race, citizenship information, local address, employer's name and address, person's occupation, and the name of the nearest relative are usually provided.  Here is the image I downloaded from FamilySearch:

Different sites may have different image resolution or clarity.

It is important to understand what this collection represents and includes.  Only males born between 1873 and 1900 should be in this collection.  However, not all males were registered, including those already in the Armed Services.  There may be indexed entries for females who are nearest relatives in some of the collections.

This is strictly a 20th century record, and as such can be very useful to find birth names, birth dates, address and employment in 1917-1918, and a physical description for men born between 1873 and 1900.  The person listed on the draft registration card usually filled out the form and signed it In some cases, this may be the only record with a birth date of a person born between those dates.

These draft registration cards are Original Sources, but the birth name and date information is Secondary Information and Direct Evidence of those items.  The home address, employment information, nearest relative and physical description are Primary Information and Direct Evidence.

For those interested in mining this record collection for Hints of persons in their Ancestry Member Tree, the Ancestry.com database number is 6482.  Currently, I have over 760 Hints for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree who are indexed in this record collection.  I work on them occasionally, adding content and source citations to this record collection to my RootsMagic family tree.  Of course, I have many more accepted Hints for this collection in my Ancestry Member Tree.

I typically source the person's name, birth date, address and occupation, and in some instances the physical description and nearest relative in my RootsMagic family tree.

NOTE:  Tuesday's Tips is a genealogy blog meme intended to provide information about a resource helpful to genealogists and family historians, especially in the online genea-world.  

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