Your Quick Tips, 23 April 2007

Possibly WWI Plane, from Library of Congress Photo Collection at AncestryDigitized Records at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Indiana University-Purdue University Library has a vast collection of digitized documents, maps and atlases, city directories, indexes, books, old magazines, and photos available free online. More is being added all the time. The site is searchable and I’ve been very successful in finding information not readily available elsewhere.  Here’s the link.  Perhaps your loyal readers may also find something useful. Here’s the link:

Family History Business Cards
This was a tip passed on to me from someone I met at a family history fair. From a stationer, buy a file that holds business cards. Then cut some thin cards to fit and put a relative’s name and birth, marriage and death dates, etc., on them. If you use both sides of the card you will have about 128 pieces of information. You could also make one for each branch of your family. These files are very easy to take around to fairs and record offices so that you always have your information with you.

Ann Barker

World War I Draft Registrations

Extensive use of this resource has proven that one must be cautious about the birth date provided on these cards. Many times the birth year is one year off for registrants. It appears that most of the time the registrant is not the person completing the for–he only signs it, if he can write.

Several times I have found that other sources give a birth date one year earlier than what appears on the card. First a little background and then a possible explanation.

During World War I there were three registrations.

  • The first, on 05 June 1917, was for all men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one.
  • The second, on 5 June 1918, registered those who attained the age of twenty-one after 5 June 1917. (A supplemental registration was held on 24 August 1918, for those turning twenty-one years old after 5 June 1918. This was included in the second registration.)
  • The third registration was held on 12 September 1918, for men aged eighteen through forty-five.

Scenario for Homer Smith, b. 5 Aug 1891, completing a card for the first draft registration on 17 Jun 1917, with the registrar asking questions and completing the form:

Registrar:  Name?
Registrant:  Homer Smith

Registrar:  Age?
Registrant:  25

Registrar:  Birthday?
Registrant:  5 August  (note he does not state the year)

Registrar:  Address?
Registrant:  652 12th St, Kansas City, Missouri.

Registrar continues with the rest of the form.

Imagine at some point the registrar does mental or pencil calculations to arrive at the birth year of 1892 (1917 – 25 = 1892), which he then enters along with the birth date of 5 August. This scenario can also be applied to the other registrations for an applicant with other dates.

For myself, I have found this scenario to be the likely cause for birth years that were a year later than what other sources indicated.

All the best,
Craig Hubbard
Nuevo, CA

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2 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 23 April 2007

  1. I have noticed a number of instances regarding the one-year difference between draft registrations and 1900 census listings.

    I have also noticed another phenomenon. This occurs mostly with men who were over the age of thirty at the time of registration. The year of birth on the draft registration is 3 or 4 years earlier than what is given in the 1900 census. The only plausible explanation I can think of is that some men felt that overstating their age by a few years would lessen their chance of being drafted.

    Ron Griffin
    Kure Beach, NC

  2. Hello, I found the draft information very interesting but am wondering if it was the same in Canada. Is there a way of finding out? Thank you.

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