JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen World War 2 Draft Cards #general

Bert Lazerow <lazer@...>

Here is what I have discovered about World War 2 Draft Registration Cards.
Between October 1940 and March 1947, almost 51 million men registered for
the draft. Men were obligated to register if born between 1877 and 1929.
These registrations, which were recorded clearly on 5 x 8 cards, contain
useful genealogical information. They ask for the age, date of birth, city
and state of birth, contact person, home address and phone, work address,
exact height, weight, type of complexion, color of eyes and hair, and any
identifying scars and marks. However, not all these lines were completed.
Only 5% of the cards I examined contained the exact city of birth for
persons born abroad. Most cards contented themselves with the country.
These registration cards are all physically located at the NARA Regional
Archives. The Fourth Registration, which took place in April 1942, of
persons born 1877 to 1897, are generally open to inspection. The remainder
are not open to inspection, but information >from them can be obtained under
FOIA by writing the Selective Service National Headquarters, 1515 Wilson
Blvd Fl 4, Arlington VA 22209-2425 ATTN: Sharon Toon or Paula Sweeney,
giving as much information about the individual as possible, but at least
an approximate date of birth and expected location at the time of
registration and, in the case of persons born after 1900, providing some
indication that the individual is either dead or has authorized the
inquiry. There is some discussion about making cards for persons born
after 1897 available for inspection, but Ms Toon did not seem too
optimistic about that. I suggested to her that since the census is
released when the youngest person listed is 72, applying the same rule to
draft cards would call for release in 2001. She did not seem convinced.
The Fourth Registration is open to the public in most jurisdictions, but
not all. For instance, in Massachusetts, the draft boards interfiled the
Fourth Registration cards with all the others (which is bizarre, because
those men were never eligible to be drafted). Since they are not separated
from those that are closed to the public, the Fourth Registration for
Massachusetts is likewise closed.
In most other states, using the cards is easy because they are
alphabetized by state. One should give the Regional Archives a few days'
advance warning along with the names being sought so they can retrieve the
boxes >from storage, but using them is quick and easy.
But for some states such as Connecticut, the cards are arranged by local
draft board number, then alphabetically, so you must know the person's
address with some precision. This is complicated by the fact that,
although you can figure out when people had to register by birth date,
there were exceptions. Persons who were abroad, or who were already in the
Armed Forces, did not need to register until they were discharged or
returned to the U.S. So a person who should by birthdate have registered
in 1942 might in fact have registered in 1946 >from a different address.
For reasons that are not at all clear to me, the cards for New Jersey and
New York, which should be at the Northeast Regional Archives in Manhattan,
are in fact stored at the Regional Archive in Kansas City.
Cards for Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are in Philadelphia,
and are alphabetized statewide.
New Hampshire cards are at Waltham, and alphabetized statewide.
Herbert Lazerow
U. of San Diego Law School, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego CA 92110-2492
lazer@..., fax 619-260-2230, phone (619)260-4597

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