Wednesday, June 02, 2010


by Juliana Smith

From Ancestry Weekly Discovery (27 May 2010), a free newsletter published by Copyright © 2010 by Used by permission.

In April 1942, American industry was retooling and refocusing its energies on war production. The production of civilian automobiles was banned during the war and automotive plants instead turned out jeeps, tanks, and other military vehicles. Women donated their nylon hosiery to make parachutes and tow ropes. Americans were encouraged to salvage metal, rubber, rags, and newspapers for the war effort and sanitation trucks scheduled special collections to retrieve these materials which were in short supply. "Salvage for Victory" depots were also set up.

Food was being rationed and the 27 April 1942 Lima News (Lima, Ohio) noted that, "After a week from tomorrow no hairpin or bobbie pin manufacturer may make these articles longer than two inches."

New factories were being built, but workers were desperately needed to man them. On 27 April 1942, men who were born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897 not already in the military were required to register for a draft--not for military service, but to help the government get a grasp on the industrial manpower capacity of the country. Known as the "Old Man's Draft," it was one of seven draft registrations during World War II, and is the only one that is currently available to the public. now has cards online for the following states:

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York*
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
West Virginia

(An * indicates that coverage is incomplete for that state.)

Unfortunately, there are no cards available for the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Questions asked for the registration were:

Birth date
Employer Information
Name and address of person who would
always know the registrant's whereabouts
Physical description

Notes on This Collection:

The residence and name and address of person who would always know the registrant's whereabouts can help you place your ancestors in 1942, which can be very helpful during this period where census records are not yet available.

Because the range of birth dates for the registrants of this draft (28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897) overlaps the range of birth dates for the World War I draft registrations (11 Sept 1872 and 12 Sept 1900), you may find cards for these men in both drafts.

The cards for the states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia were microfilmed at the National Archives in such a way that the back of one persons draft card appears in the same image as the front of the next individual's card. Thus, when viewing the scanned image of each person's original draft card you will see the correct front side of each person's draft card, but the back side of the previous persons card.

The draft cards for states other than Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia were microfilmed in a different manner so you just need to advance to the next image to view the back side of the card.

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