I have had a lot of luck searching the WWI and WWII Draft Registration cards. These are now easily accessible in the Ancestry.com database and you can also go to your state library and look at these records on microfilm. I have found quite a lot of genealogical information on our family’s fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and even great grandfathers through the years I’ve been researching. Sometimes, the bits and pieces of facts disclosed on these cards are all I know about a particular person. And sometimes when I am really lucky, I find out something extra about a person that helps me understand him better.
My husband’s great-uncle Leonard (1890 – 1969) registered for the draft in 1917, and for reasons only known to him, felt compelled at the time to inform the Registrar of his opinions. The Registrar’s notation on the draft card reads: “This fellow does not approve of the way the Government is doing in general.” I can only imagine what else he might have said! And I wonder what he thought as he grew older and saw his son and nephews register for the draft in WWII, and later on saw more boys register for the Korean War and then the Vietnam War during his lifetime? Did his opinions change? Some how, I don’t think so. This short notation hand-written on a registration card makes this man, whom I never met, real to me.
So many courageous men filled out similar draft registration cards over the 20th century and served with honor; some didn’t come back and some came back changed forever. When the post-WWII draft registration cards are released some day to genealogical researchers, I wonder what they will say?