World War 1 and 2 Draft Registration Requirements

For genealogy researchers of U.S. ancestors, World War 1 and 2 Draft Cards are an excellent resource. They make for good evidence since the ancestor completed the form themselves.

Both drafts had several “registrations”, that is timeframes for men to register, depending on their birth date.

It is helpful to know the requirements for each registration, especially if you have an ancestor who did not register at all. Was it because they were avoiding the draft? Or were they just not in an age grouping that was required to register?

So let’s look at the draft registration periods and requirements from 1917 through 1943:

Year of Change Requirements
1917May 18; Selective Service Act of 1917 passed by Congress
19171st registration – June 5; men aged 21 to 31
19182nd registration – June 5; men turning 21 after 1st registration; supplemental on August 24 for men turning 21 after June 5
19183rd registration – September 12; all men aged 18 to 45
1940September 16; President Roosevelt signs peacetime Selective Service Act
19401st registration – October 16; For men born between 17 October 1904 and 16 October 1919 (ages 21-35) living within the continental United States.
1940Initial draft – October 29; A man had to be between 21 and 45, at least 5’ tall and no taller than 6’6”, weigh at least 105 lbs., have vision correctable with glasses, and have at least half his teeth. He had to be able to read and write, and not have been convicted of a crime.
19412nd registration – July 1; For men born between 17 October 1919 and 12 July 1920 who had turned 21 since the first registration & men from the first draft who did not register. The prefix “S” preceded the serial #.
19423rd registration – February 16; For men born between 17 February 1897 and 31 December 1921 (ages 20-45) who had not previously registered. The prefix “T” preceded the serial #.
19424th registration – April 27 (Old Man’s Draft); born between 27 April 1877 and 16 February 1890. The prefix “U” preceded the serial number.
19425th registration – June 30; For men born between 1 January 1922 and 30 June 1924 (ages 18-20). – The prefix “N” preceded the serial #.
19426th registration – December 10-31; For men born between 1 July and 31 December 1924 (men who had turned 18 after 12 November 1942.) The prefix “W” preceded the serial #.
1943Additional registration – November 16-December 31; For American citizens living abroad between the ages of 18 and 45.

So take these dates into consideration if you have an ancestor who did not register. It just might be that their birthdate fell into a range where registration was not required. Maybe they registered for World War 1 and not World War 2, or vice versa.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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