World War II Draft Cards

Though I know a lot about my great-grandfathers' stories, I thought I knew enough to believe that neither American great-grandfather would have any military record, least of all in the US. Both were too old by the time World War II broke out, and only one was in the US during the first World War, and I know that he'd returned to Denmark and married soon after, so he had not served.

But I was randomly browsing through records on Ancestry the other day and found a record for a "Holger Hansen" with a World War II Draft card. The information looked like it could be him, but it made no sense, so I decided to investigate further. I was lucky enough to find the same listing at Family Search.org, and followed the link through. When I did, I got a shock. Not only was there a record of the record, but they had an actual image of it as well. Sure enough, the card was for my great-grandfather, Holger, who was 50 when he signed the card. Surprised but thrilled, I copied the information into my records for safekeeping.

Then it occurred to me that if Holger had a card, it was possible that Alex or his brother or even my grandfather or any of my great-uncles might also have a card in that collection. I was surprised to find none for my grandfather or anyone near his age, but I did find one for my other great-grandfather under the name Elias—the only time outside of Germany I've seen the name used for him. I suppose it makes sense, given that it was a formal document, but it was still great to see. I also found one for his brother, Jack.

I thought it odd to find this sort of record, especially for Alex. Jack and Holger were likely healthy enough, if in their 50s, but it does surprise me that Alex was made to sign one, given that he must have had his stroke by that point. When I looked into the records further, I discovered the reason. These were a special batch of cards for older men, ages 45-64 from many states throughout the US. It was called the "Fourth Draft" or "Old Man's Draft." More information about how and why these were collected can be found here at Family Search. The collection itself can be found here at Family Search.

All this goes to say that you never know about your ancestors until you look. Just because you're certain they never served doesn't mean there's no record of them during the wars they were alive in. Always check just to be sure. And certainly, if you had a male relation in the US in 1942, it's well worth looking into. It's particularly good for determining where that person was living, their birthdate, and may include a relation or close family friend that might lead to further information. Do make sure to look at the next slide as well, because the backs of the cards had more information--basic characteristics, as well as special, and in some cases this can provide a fascinating insight on your ancestor.

2 comments :

Theodulf June 2, 2012 at 8:47 AM  

Wow! Thank you very much Mika!

Elf Flame June 2, 2012 at 10:16 AM  

I thought that Alex's in particular was fascinating, given the name on it and the info on the back. It's so cool finding this sort of thing.

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About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.