MyHeritage’s expansive collection of World War I draft registrations from 1917 to 1918 offers a wealth of information — far beyond what you might find in a census from the same period. Today, we’ll take a closer look at this remarkable collection and highlight some fascinating examples of records you might uncover.
The World War I draft registration is an extraordinary source for family history researchers. It’s a treasure trove of around 24.8 million records, primarily involving men who registered for the draft following the passing of the Selective Service Act in May 1917. Remember, not all men who registered were drafted, or even joined the military. Roughly 2 million volunteered, and 2.8 million were drafted, yet this collection goes beyond those 5 million, offering a far more comprehensive look at the men of that era.
Here are some examples found within the collection.
Sample records from United States World War I Draft Registrations, 1917–1918
One striking record is of Luigi Caporole. The detailed document provides a plethora of information, including his age, home address, full birth date, birthplace, and occupation as a stonemason. In addition, the document reveals that Luigi was a provider for his parents and was single.
The beauty of this collection is its ability to uncover detailed information, like Luigi’s birthplace, something which is usually broadly stated in a census. Further, this collection is invaluable for tracing immigrant ancestors, as it was carried out following a massive influx of immigrants into the United States.
Another intriguing record is that of George Crist, an immigrant from Macedonia, Greece. His draft registration not only details his Greek roots but also reveals that his mother, Nicola Crist, was still residing in Greece.
For those tracing their immigrant roots, this collection can be a godsend. Take this record of Cornelius Sullivan, whose draft registration record reveals his birthplace in County Kerry, Ireland. Unearthing such specific locations in an immigrant’s past can often be challenging, making these records a precious resource.
An interesting feature of this collection is the small corner tear on the record card for individuals of African descent. An example of such a record belongs to a distinguished gentleman of African descent, born in Monrovia, Liberia, who was a physician and a British subject.
Last but not least, let’s look at Luigi Russo. His 1920 federal census record is very detailed. It lists him as Italian and provides his Boston address and family members.
What is incredible is that his World War I draft registration discloses even more information, such as his exact birth date and specific birthplace in Italy, and his occupation. This additional detail is invaluable for those tracing their roots to other countries.
In conclusion, the World War I draft registration is a fantastic tool for family history researchers, providing a wealth of information not available elsewhere. With over 24.8 million records to explore, who knows what fascinating insights you might uncover about your family’s past?
This article was adapted from a recent Facebook Live session with our Director of Content, Mike Mansfield. These sessions, held on the first and third Tuesday of every month, are a chance for you to learn about new and existing collections on MyHeritage. Join us next time on the MyHeritage Facebook page to discover more.