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Using Ancestry to Search WWII Draft Registration records

May 8, 2020

This post is written by GCPL Genealogist Cheryl McClellan. To read all of her Genealogy posts, go here

Quarantine is a good time to work on family history and genealogy. Fortunately, GCPL cardholders have free access to Ancestry Library Version from home, through at least the end of May. Today’s blog topic is WWII Draft Registration records, a collection recently completed and now available on Ancestry Library Version. GCPL cardholders can search the database and view images of the original cards. To access Ancestry Library Version, go to the GCPL genealogy pages. Click on the link at the top of the page to Ancestry Library Version. Follow the prompts to fill in your library bar code and select “name of library.” Once on Ancestry Library Version home page, click on “Military” under “Quick Links.”   

The World War II Draft Registration Card Collection consists of over 50 million cards with data on men between the ages of 18 and 65. Genealogical information includes full name, birth date and place, residence, occupation, and physical description. The first of several draft registrations over the course of WWII occurred on October 16, 1940, for men ages 21 – 36, in anticipation of the U.S. entering war. Six more draft registrations were held throughout the war years, including men as young as 18 and as old as 64. Only those between 18 and 45 could be drafted, but the 1942 “Old Man’s” draft registration included ages 45 – 64 as a pool for possible home front service.  At Ancestry Library Version, the registrations are in two separate collections – the  U.S. WWII Draft Cards, Young Men, 1940 – 1947 and the “Old Men’s Draft” or  U.S. WWII Draft Registration Cards, 1942.  

The vast number and age range of men required to register means that if your male relative between the ages of 18 and 65 lived in the U.S. from 1940 to 1945, he likely filled out a card. Unlike birth, marriage, and death records, registration cards were filled out by the registrant, instead of a clerk, allowing less likelihood of error. Unfortunately, a handful of states (AL, FL, GA, ME, MS, NM, NC, SC and TN) are not included because the cards were destroyed before they could be filmed. Cheryl’s uncle’s draft registration card is shown below.  

Joseph Caldwell Talbott, WWII Draft Registration Card, in “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947,” online image at Ancestry.com. Original record at The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 74.

Cheryl recently co-authored an online article with her daughter, Sunny Morton, for Family Tree magazine on World War II Draft Registrations. Although the article is part of the Premium content generally available only to subscribers, anyone can access up to three Premium articles per month. For more information on WWII Draft Registration cards and how to use them in your genealogy research, go to Family Tree Magazine. 

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