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WWI Draft Registration Cards

Fold3 Image - James Adams WWI Draft Registration Card
Did you have any male family members living in the United States during 1917–18 who were born between 1872 and 1900? If so, there’s a good chance you’ll find them in Fold3’s WWI Draft Registration Cards (via the National Archives).

After the United States entered the war with Germany in 1917, the government required men of certain age groups to register for the draft. There were three draft registration periods: The first, on 5 June 1917, was for men between the ages of 21 and 31. The second registration, held a year later, on 5 June 1918, was for men who had turned 21 since the last registration or who hadn’t registered during the first registration for whatever reason. The third registration was held just a few months later, on 12 September 1918, and extended the draft registration ages to include men as young as 18 or as old as 45


An estimated 98 percent of American-born men between the ages of 18 and 45 registered for the draft in 1917–18, which means that if you had male relatives living in the U.S. at the time, it’s likely that they registered as well. Even non-citizens were required to register (though they weren’t inducted). However, men already serving in the military, or who enlisted before the draft registration, didn’t have to register, so if any of your relatives fall into this category, they won’t have a registration card in this collection. And keep in mind that just because your relative registered for the draft, it doesn’t mean he ever actually served in the military; only a minority of men who registered for the WWI draft were ever called up.

Though there are three different draft registration forms (one for each of the three registration periods), information you can generally find on them includes:

  • Full name
  • Home address
  • Date and place of birth
  • Age, race, and country of citizenship
  • Occupation and employer
  • Physical description (hair and eye color, height, disabilities)
  • Additional information such as address of nearest relative, dependent relatives, marital status, father’s birthplace, or previous exemption from service
  • Signature

On Fold3, this collection is organized by state, residence county, surname, then given name. If you can’t find the relative you’re looking for in this collection, try looking under various spellings of their name. Some men may also have accidentally switched the order of their first and last names on the form, so their form might have been alphabetized under their first name rather than last. Your relative might also have registered in a different county or state than where he was living; these cards were supposed to be forwarded to the correct county, but not all were, so your relative’s registration card might be filed under a different county.

Get started searching or browsing Fold3’s WWI Draft Registration cards here!

7 Comments

  1. I recently discovered that my grandfather, born in 1895, registered for the WWII draft. He was a WWI veteran and a gas casualty as well. The information on the WWII document was enlightening, particularly the mention of a tattoo on his right arm. This was news to us. We knew he was a patriotic fellow who felt Memorial Day was the most important commemoration of the year, but it was fascinating to learn that he sported an American Eagle and a flag on his upper arm.

  2. My father also served from the state of Texas, also was gassed, but this site can not seem to find him. I have checked for other military relatives in the past and they have very little info on any of them.

    • Don’t give up. Try variations of the name. Try entering just the last name. Then try an initial and the last name. Try the middle name as a first name. Keep changing up the information you are entering and you will probably find him.

    • Have you checked Ancestry.com for their World War I and II Draft Registration Cards. They might have records that Fold3 doesn’t have.

      Although, Ancestry.com is a paid site many local libraries offer it for use at their locations for free and the Family History Centers at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormans, also offer it for use at their locations for free.

  3. I have been using the library’s Ancestry.com and have found a bit of info on my relatives. I was very surprised to see that my grandfather, born in 1894 and served on active duty in the army during WW1, still had to register for the draft for WW2. Didn’t think they would want men approaching their 50s.
    He was not drafted, however, 3 of his sons enlisted (one did not make it home) and one daughter enlisted. I am in the process of creating a family military history album.

  4. I received my dads last pay check, he was released from Hammer Reg Hosp. At Fresno,Ca. I did not know he was in hosp, he never knew he was in hospital.He never talked about his service. I do have a picture of him in uniform. I was disappointed I didn’t receive all his records service & medical. I sent in the required 20 and death certificate.
    Kathy1150kt@gmail.com/He served ww2, Dec.28,1943–Nov.9,1945