United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. National Archives and Records Administration Branch locations: National Archives and Records Administration Region Branches.
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 only registration currently available to the public (the other registrations are not available due to privacy laws). 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
- Birth date
- 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:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York*
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
*The collection of records for these states in this database is incomplete. Therefore, it is possible that an ancestor who fits the age requirement of this registration and is from one of these states, will not currently be found in this database.
Records for additional states will be added to this database as Ancestry can acquire them.
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.
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
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.