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"Draft Records, WWI & WWII" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian28 Jun 2020 4:31 p.m. PST

Doing family history in the U.S., some very useful records available on the family history websites are the WWI and WWII draft records.

For one thing, you get someone's full legal name (well, that's the requirement not everyone did!) as well as their signature.

You get what the person says is his birthdate and place. (Often, a lot easier than getting a birth record.)

You also get a description of the person. You would think a photo would do, but they list height, weight, complexion (ranging from sallow to black), eye color and hair color. And scars or distinguishing information, which can be pretty interesting sometimes.

For WWII, they also ask your race. For WWI, they don't ask about race I suppose only whites could get drafted?

shadoe0128 Jun 2020 4:53 p.m. PST

From the National Army Museum website:


Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian28 Jun 2020 5:47 p.m. PST

Thanks for posting that. Seems like progress for blacks in the U.S. Army was quite a seesaw in terms of progress.

So they made great progress during WWI, in segregated units, and segregation continued until the late stages of WWII?

I've read about black Marines in WWII who could only serve officially as stevedores, but unofficially grabbed rifles and went ashore in one of the island fights when manpower was desperately needed.

Buck21528 Jun 2020 6:56 p.m. PST

Still waiting for the "Band of Brothers" type of miniseries on the 761st Negro Tank Battalion. C'mon Hollywood, their story is long overdue!

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2020 7:41 p.m. PST


Some good stuff here

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP28 Jun 2020 8:35 p.m. PST

Black units in WWI had to be given over to fight under French command as U.S. white command would not allow them to serve together in/with white units.

KarlBergman28 Jun 2020 9:42 p.m. PST

Interesting, I was able to find several records for my father who served in WWII. Couldn't seem to find any of my records from 1973 – 1981 though.

genew4928 Jun 2020 10:52 p.m. PST

I was able to get my fathers WW2 records. They also included a discharge pin(I actually have the one he was given when discharged) and a medal that I never knew about. Virtually all of my dad's WW2 things were lost when our basement in Revere, Mass flooded in 1957.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian29 Jun 2020 12:05 a.m. PST

Some of the official WWII U.S. records were destroyed in a fire, unfortunately.

genew4929 Jun 2020 6:41 a.m. PST

You are correct but I believe that was in 1973.

Major Mike29 Jun 2020 7:07 a.m. PST

Dan Cyr, there were more considerations than just that. There was the issue of getting the units transported to Europe, arming and equipping the units and training. The French agreed to do all of these for the 92nd and 93rd Division as long as they served in the French portion of the battlefield. Our leaders agreed as it allowed them to skirt the issue you mention. It is not that General Pershing didn't know of the abilities of negro soldiers, having commanded them on the Frontier. Politicians, well, that's another issue.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 8:09 a.m. PST

I was able to get my great grandfather's service records from the Civil War – documented all 3 years of his service month by month (and mis-spelled his name in about half of them) all the time from signing up with the 4th Minnesota to his mustering out of the Veteran Reserve Corps

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 1:18 p.m. PST

Someone double-check me, but my understanding is that there were black Marine infantry units in WWII. As soon as peace broke out, they were reassigned to non-combat duties. The stevedore thing was USN--which oddly enough seems to have been integrated UNTIL the Civil War.

Ah. The record fire. 1973 sounds right, but it created echoes. New records were created and then old ones recovered. I knew an NCO c. 1983 who said his microfiche often had three copies or portions of his service history--one of them charred around the edges. So Karl, your father's 1973-1981 paperwork could still be out there, but not filed where they found the other.

(My brother and I were sometimes the same rank and service, and our SSAN's differ only by the last digit. You can only imagine the joys of keeping out 201 files separate.)

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP02 Jul 2020 1:42 p.m. PST

Robert P. there were two Black units formed in IIRC
mid-late 1942, the 51st and 52nd Defense Battalions
each of which saw service (but not action, as near as
I can determine) in the Pacific.

There were Black Marines which fought on Peleliu.
Both the 16th Marine Field Depot and the 17th Special
CB took up weapons and joined the fighting to hold
the right flank of the 7th Marines position, starting
late on D-day and staying until the area was secured
on D +3.

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