There are many military records useful in genealogy. Most talked about military records are perhaps pension records and service records. Another type of military record very useful for genealogy is the draft registration cards. A draft existed for various wars from the Civil War all the way up to the Vietnam War.
More than 20 million men who were living in the United States at the time of World War I filled out a draft registration card. Almost all men between the ages of 18 and 46 were included in the draft. If you have a male ancestor who was between 18 and 46 living in the United States at the time World War I, seek out their draft registration card. Even if they didn’t serve and even if they were not citizens of the United States you can most likely find their draft card.
When World War II started, the United States instituted another draft. This time anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 were required to register. Millions of men filled out and completed their draft registration forms. Many of these cards are currently not available to the public due to privacy laws, but the old man’s draft is available. It is called the old man’s draft by many due to the fact that all men in this draft were born in the 19th century and would have been over 40 when the war started. You may be able to access some of the restricted draft registration cards if you are a direct descendant and the individual is deceased. Finding a WWI draft card and then finding that same individual in the old man’s draft of WWII has led to breakthroughs in my own research.
Depending upon the war and which draft registration card your ancestor is listed on, you can find out a great many details about your ancestor. I had a breakthrough using draft registration cards for my wife’s ancestors. I knew Domenico Fazzari was born in Italy and was married to Genevieve. I had found census records and knew approximately when he was born. I then turned to the Draft Registration cards. Unfortunately, I found two Domenico Fazzari’s WWI Draft Registration cards. One was born in 1889 and the other was born in 1887. The one born on April 4, 1887 was a welder. Descendants thought that Domenico was a welder so I was pretty sure this was my Domenico.
I felt I had pretty good circumstantial evidence, but there was still a chance the other Domenico was the right one. I then turned to the WWII Draft Registration Cards. I found both Domenico’s again. This time the Domenico born on April 4, 1887 showed Mrs. Genevieve Fazzari as a person who would always know his address. With this added information I knew I had the right Domenico.
What hidden genealogy nuggets are in these two records of Domenico Fazzari? Let’s take a quick look.
- Dominick Fazzari was born on 4-Feb-1887 in Cittanova, Italy
- He was tall with a medium build, brown eyes and black hair
- He was a sideline welder at L. G Johnson & Co.
- By the time of the WWI Draft, he filed his 2nd papers for citizenship
- By the time of the WWI Draft, he was married and had a child
- At the time of the WWI Draft, he lived at 3031 (Corbent)? Ave.
- At the time of the WWII Draft, he lived at 2404 Crotona Ave., Bronx, NY
- At the time of the WWII Draft, he was a patient at Essex Mountain Sanatorium, Verona, NJ
- At the time of the WWII Draft, he was unemployed
- If you collect ancestor signatures, the signature is on both draft registration forms.
If you’re looking to jump across the pond to find your ancestor in their homeland, you need to know the ancestors town back in the old country. The WWI and WWII draft registration cards will normally have this information for an immigrant ancestor. This was the case with my Domenico Fazzari. With this added information I was able to contact the town of Cittanova, Italy. They sent me a copy of Domenico birth record which showed his parents.