Ancestry.com Adds U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards for 1942

A record set from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration called United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147, National Archives and Records Administration is now available at: https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/wwiidraft. The following description of the records was written by Ancestry.com:

The U.S. officially entered World War II on 8 December 1941 following an attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Just about a year before that, in October 1940, President Roosevelt had signed into law the first peacetime selective service draft in U.S. history, due to rising world conflicts. After the U.S. entered WWII a new selective service act required that all men between ages 18 and 65 register for the draft. Between November 1940 and October 1946, over 10 million American men were registered. This database is an indexed collection of the draft cards from the Fourth Registration. The Fourth Registration, often referred to as the “old man’s registration”, was conducted on 27 April 1942 and registered men who born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897 – men who were between 45 and 64 years old – and who were not already in the military. Information available on the draft cards includes:

  • Name of registrant
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Residence
  • Employer information
  • Name and address of person who would always know the registrant’s whereabouts
  • Physical description of registrant (race, height, weight, eye and hair colors, complexion)

Additional information such as mailing address (if different from residence address), serial number, order number, and board registration information may also be available.

For individuals who lived near a state border, sometimes their Draft Board Office was located in a neighboring state. Therefore, you may find some people who resided in one state, but registered in another.

Which states are currently available in this database?

This database currently contains draft cards for the following states:

Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
New York City
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington DC
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

The original draft registration cards for the following states were destroyed several years ago and were never microfilmed before they were destroyed. Therefore, there will never be records for these states in this database.

Alabama
Florida
Georgia
Maine
Mississippi
North Carolina
South Carolina
Tennessee

Locating Originals:

The original draft cards are held by each state’s National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Regional Branch. All of these cards are also available on microfilm from the Family History Library (FHL) and/or NARA.

How are the Cards Organized?

The draft cards are arranged by state and are then in alphabetical order by surname, followed by the local draft board number. There may be instances where the cards are filed out of order. For example, there are some surnames beginning with M in the Q-S surname range. These are correct, as the cards were misordered prior to filming.

Note regarding the images for the states of DE, MD, PA, and WV: These four states were microfilmed at the National Archives in such a way that the back of one person’s draft card appears in the same image as the front of the next individual’s card. Thus, when viewing the scanned image of each person’s original draft card you will see the correct front side of each person’s draft card, but the back side of the previous person’s card. The draft cards for states other than Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia were microfilmed in a different manner and thus images of the original draft cards from those other states display correctly in the database.

8 Comments

What’s new? These old man’s draft cards have been available for a long time. Is this just a new tranch of a few records?

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RoseMary N Starling March 30, 2019 at 5:51 am

What I found of great importance was the paragraph regarding filming of the cards:
“Note regarding the images for the states of DE, MD, PA, and WV: These four states were microfilmed at the National Archives in such a way that the back of one person’s draft card appears in the same image as the front of the next individual’s card. Thus, when viewing the scanned image of each person’s original draft card you will see the correct front side of each person’s draft card, but the back side of the previous person’s card.”

I have recorded many of the physical descriptions from these cards to use in my genealogy logs. However, fortunately, none from these specific states. I do pity researchers that have not been aware of this and have recorded erroneous information!

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What happened to New Mexico? It is not on any of these lists?

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I was disappointed that a Fold3 account is necessary to view the cards.

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    It is called Ancestry.doubledipping. Used to be able to get the original copy but now they want to tap us again for another 70 to 80 bucks. Bologna on that!

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    I don’t have a fold3 account, yet have no problem accessing these records.

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Why were the original draft registration cards destroyed for AL, FL, GA, ME, MS, NC, SC, and TN? Genealogy research in the south is already difficult enough.

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Can you clarify the comments by readers about needing the Fold 3 account to see the draft records. It looks like people have had different experiences. A while ago, I was able to view them and got some nice clues that weren’t picked up in the transcriptions. (I hadn’t realized how prevalent blue eyes were in my uncles – which might explain my son’s eyes) And I had some verification of relationships/addresses/ and a pattern of occupations. Then suddenly, ancestry only showed an outline with some basic info and we were directed to Fold 3. I don’t need all the services of Fold 3. Our history with the military started in WW I with maybe 4 family members. This is obviously the long way of asking you how to access the draft cards without Fold 3 as some of you seem to have done. Thanks!

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