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Monday
Dec132010

* investigating draft registration cards

I love finding a matching draft registration record, these little forms cover a broad range of information giving you a great snapshot of your ancestor. The forms vary slightly by draft registration period but all contain basic vital information, address, signature, a contact person (usually a spouse or parent), occupation, employer, physical descriptions (height, weight, complexion, hair and eye color), and any physical ailments or disabilities. You never know what you'll find.

---------------------Why I love these records!--------------------

Lovely Signatures!

 

 

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Physical descriptions

I found the WW1 draft registration for my dad's great uncle. My jaw dropped as I read the comments under the "list any physical disabilities" section: ONE EYE 

I immediately called my dad to see if he remembered ANYTHING his parents may have said about a person with only one eye or maybe a cool eye patch?! Unfortunately this fact did not jog any memories. But this just goes to show the variety of information available from these records.

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Having trouble identifying a woman's maiden name?

It is so frustrating to have such a giant question mark in your research. There are only a handful of places a woman's maiden name will be connected with her husband (if you're lucky!). The draft registration records could be your jackpot. Just today I was searching and found a matching draft registration and the contact person was his wife with her maiden name!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Required Draft Registration Periods

With 2 distinct draft periods (WW1, WW2) it's easy to identify which male ancestors were required to register and with a little digging you can uncover some really interesting information. Draft cards alone do not indicate military service records, these registrations were mandatory forms for all males in different age brackets.

WW1

June 5, 1917 for all men ages 21-31

June 5, 1918 for all men who had turned 21 since the first registration

September 12, 1918 for all men ages 18-45

WW2

October 16, 1940 - all men 21-31 years residing in the U.S. - whether native born, naturalized, or alien

July 1, 1941 - men who reached age 21 since the first registration

February 16, 1942 - men 20-21 and 35-44 years of age

April 27, 1942 - Men 45-64 years of age. Not liable for military service. *Only draft cards open to public

June 30, 1942 - Men 18-20 years of age

December 10-31, 1942 - Men who reached the age of 18 since the previous registration

November 16 - December 31, 1943 - American men living abroad, aged 18-44

---------------------Where to find records--------------------

With my Ancestry.com membership I have access to a database of WW1 and WW2 military records including draft registration and enlistment records. With a free ancestry membership you can search the records but you won't be able to view all of the information or the original image. Both accounts have access to blank copies of all original forms, this comes in handy when viewing poorly scanned original records. You can also search for records through the National Archives, they just redesigned their site so some of the links aren't quite hooked up yet but the records are there!

I'm always trying to imagine what life was like for the people I research, these records have really helped me develop the characters! What have you learned from military records? 

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