Wildcard operators can be used when multiple names are used
in the first name box. Searches of a first name like "mic* joh*" are
allowed and would catch names such as Michael John, Micheal Johann,
John Michel, Johan Carl Michael, etc.
With any last name and any database, consider all reasonable spellings
and variants. Name variants are not as problematic with the draft cards
as they are with earlier records. However, names still get misspelled,
misread, and incorrectly indexed. Wildcard operators are again helpful
and the use of the Soundex option (which catches names with similar
sounds but different spellings) will catch most alternates. Soundex
works reasonably well with names that have English or Germanic origins.
Names from other languages are not always easily found using a
Soundex-based search. Wildcard operators may be a better approach with
When searching based upon the registration place, keep in mind that in
rural counties, the only information in the index may be the state and
county; the "city" of registration may not be listed on the index (more
precise information should be on the card). Because of this, begin a
search for any non-urban relative by using a state and if necessary, a
county. Keep in mind that your family member might show up in an
unexpected place and only use registration locations when necessary to
reduce the number of hits to a manageable level.
This was required on the cards of men who registered for the first and
second registrations (generally those with dates of birth between 6
June 1886 and 5 June 1897). The third registration did not require the
birthplace and the birthplace box should always be left blank for
registrants outside the 6 June 1886-5 June 1897 time frame. Even for
men within that birth range, the information extracted may vary in
terms of specifics. Cards may list the town and state of birth, but in
many cases the town does not appear in the index. Entering in a
specific town in the city box for birth will result in fewer hits and
less desired results.
Date of Birth
Dates of birth on the draft cards are usually correct, but there are
always exceptions. There are known cases where the year of registration
has been substituted on the card for the year of birth. In other cases,
the precise date or month may have not been provided on the card. In
all these situations the error or omission affects what is in the
index. It is generally good advice to begin a search using only a year
of birth and refine the search by adding a more precise date only if
This box may appear self-explanatory, but one must exercise caution
when using it to search. Results may appear as African, Asian, Black,
Caucasian, Colored, Mongolian, Mulatto, White, etc. Care must be taken
or hits can easily be missed.
This field searches all the fields in the database. Entering Wilken in
the Keyword field will result in matches where the first, middle, or
last name was Wilken. This is a neat little tool when you are not
certain of the name or when you are looking for middle names that might
have been a mother's maiden name.
The draft card for James P. Hoone in New York City is particularly
interesting. Other than his name, it is blank. Hopefully, your
ancestor's card is more like the typical registration and is filled
with helpful information!
Michael John Neill is the Course I Coordinator at the
Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in
Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg
College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is currently a member of the
board of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) www.fgs.org.
He conducts seminars and lectures nationally on a wide variety of
genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several
genealogical publications, including Ancestry Magazine and Genealogical
Computing. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit his website at: www.rootdig.com, but he regrets
that he is unable to assist with personal research.