The United States declared war on Germany in early 1917. Patriotism ran strong, however, Army enlistments were modest at best. The United States therefore enacted a draft requiring every male born between 1872 and 1900 to register – regardless of whether they were natural-born, naturalized or alien. On three different registration days in the years 1917 and 1918, more than 24 million men were registered. Of these 24 million men, over 80% were given deferments and were never called up to serve.
These World War I draft registration cards are an invaluable source to researchers, as the cards provide a wealth of information, including the height, weight, hair and eye color of the ancestor in question. Not only does the card give physical descriptions, it lists where the individual worked, their address, date of birth and current address at the time the person was registered.
World War I was horrific and the world had never seen anything of its kind up to that point, at least on such a global scale. The use of the machine gun, chemical weapons and trench warfare made combat gruesome. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, ending hostilities, but unfortunately, the resulting instability in Europe led to the rise of Adolf Hitler.
Do you have anyone in your family that was in The Great War? Do you or your family have any souvenirs or mementos of that person’s time spent in Europe? Do you have any family stories associated with that particular veteran? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave your comments below.