World War One (WWI) Selective Service System Draft Records|
In 1917 and 1918 approximately 24 million men registered for the draft in the United States. These included men born from Sept 11, 1872 to Sept 12, 1900. The World War I Draft Registration Cards created at this time have been microfilmed and they have been digitized and put online. Be aware that these are records of people who registered for the draft. Everyone who registered did not actually serve in the military during World War One.
Online Indexes and Images
Ancestry has indexed and digitized these World War One draft records, and put them online...
World War One Draft Registration Cards Index and Digital Images (requires payment)
Available for all states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
These records were digitized from: World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1509; Imaged from Family History Library microfilm).
Microfilm Research Guide
The LDS (Mormon) Church has microfilm copies of these records and you can obtain copies of the cards from the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City -- the microfilm rolls can be ordered for viewing and photocopying from many local Family History Centers for a small fee.
Start by doing a place search in the FHL catalog for the state the person lived in...
Family History Library Catalog
Then look for the Military topics. Here's an example (for the state of Missouri) of what to specifically look for...
Missouri - Military records - World War, 1914-1918
Click on that topic heading, then look for and click on: "Missouri, World War I Selective Service System draft registration cards, 1917-1918"
Then scroll down to "film notes" and look for the county or city where your person registered -- some cities, especially large cities, are listed separately from the counties they are in. So look for a city listing first, then the county. Note the microfilm roll number(s) and title(s) you need -- you can order the microfilm rolls from many Family History Centers. See: Worldwide Directory of Family History Centers to find one near you.
The draft cards are arranged in rough alphabetical order on the microfilm by surname -- I've seen a few slightly out of place. If you don't find something in the correct place then you might try searching through the entire letter of the alphabet. Larger counties (with populaton greater than 45,000) will have more than one draft board so you might have to look on more than one microfilm roll to find the draft card you need. The cards are in rough alphabetical order by surname within each draft board. If your ancestor lived in a large city there could be several different draft boards and you will need to know which one he registered at based on his address. Some large cities have online (or offline) finding aids. Here are some examples...
Some Additional Online Indexes
World War 1 Civilian Draft Registrations (partial index) (the Ray Banks database)
about 15% of US counties are included here -- nearly 1.2 million names (of the 24 million total)
Colorado WWI Draft Registration Cards Index presently has counties beginning with letters A-D (includes Denver)
Nebraska WWI Draft Registration Cards Database 1917-1918
Other Finding Aids & Information
Blank Draft Cards (PDF) free to download
There were 3 different cards used in the draft registration. To see what questions were asked on each card see...
Questions Asked on Draft Cards
Microfilm Numbers for the State of Missouri
How to Order Copies by Mail
The Southeast Regional Branch of the National Archives in Morrow, Georgia (near Atlanta) has the original World War One draft cards. You can request a copy of these cards by mail for a fee. See The National Archives Southeast Region, Atlanta for the email address and contact information.
These are merely suggestions to help you find a copy of a person's WWI draft card. You may not be able to find a specific person's card for a variety of reasons. See additional disclaimers at the link below.