Thursday, April 23, 2015

World War I Draft Cards

In genealogical research, occasionally you will find a gem that you never thought could help you. One of those gems is the World War I draft cards.  

Why you ask would I want to look at World War I Draft Cards? They contain some really fascinating information. They were done in all 48 states, the District of Columbia  and the territories of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

According to the National Archives "During World War I there were three registrations. The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31. The second, on June 5, 1918, registered those who attained age 21 after June 5, 1917. (A supplemental registration was held on August 24, 1918, for those becoming 21 years old after June 5, 1918. This was included in the second registration.) The third registration was held on September 12, 1918, for men age 18 through 45.

Included on these cards are full name, address,  date and place of birth, race, citizenship, occupation, a physical description (eye color, hair color, height and build) and their signature.

You can look at these for all the members of your family who might have been within the ages of 21-45 at the time of the First World War. I found it very helpful to see eye color in particular since most old photos are black and white or sepia. 

Also, that so illusive place of birth is included here so that may possibly be of help to you. Even if it isn't going to answer any major questions, give it a look it is fascinating. 

This is basically what they look like and all the information they can provide. This is a case of adding meat to the bones of your genealogy.

In my particular case, I was able to answer a question that has plagued me most of my life, why I have brown eyes in a blue eyed family. By looking at my grandfather's draft registration and that of his brothers I was given an answer. While he and one brother had hazel eyes, one other brother had blue and one had brown. Quite the mix. 

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