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Contributed: August 2005

The 4th Registration

Contributed by Ken Tessendorff

In August 2005, I had a conversation with an archivist at NARA in Washington D.C. During that conversation, he mentioned an item called The 4th Registration. Apparently, during World War 2, it became necessary for older men to register for the draft. In case the United States was invaded these men would be our last line of defense.

I consulted the National Archives, San Bruno and asked about these records. I received the response included below. I have not attempted to search for anyone that might be included in these records. Help is available at the National Archives-Pacific Sierra Region on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 7:30AM-4PM and Wednesdays, 7:30AM-8PM.

This article pertains only to records held at San Bruno. Similar records groups are held at other National Archives branches across the United States. Their Guides should be consulted to determine what records they hold.

Dear Mr. Tessendorff:

This is a response to your e-mail dated August 23, 2005 concerning the “The 4th Registration.”

I believe what you are referring to are World War II draft registration cards. Our holdings include original World War II registration cards (from the Fourth Registration only) as required by the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 for the states of California and Hawaii. The Fourth Registration was held in April 1942 and included all men (native born citizens, naturalized citizens and aliens) born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before February 16, 1897 (inclusive).

The Fourth Registration cards for the entire state of California are arranged primarily by Selective Service Board number, and thereunder alphabetically by name of applicant (with the exception of registrants whose surnames began with the letter “A,” which were re-arranged alphabetically regardless of Selective Service Board number). There were over 200 Selective Service Board offices in California, and large metropolitan areas contained many board offices. For the best search results, you should provide the registrant’s complete name, plus the county, city, and selective service board number of the board where he registered. The registrant’s year of birth would also be helpful, because there may be multiple entries at a board for names that were common.

For us to conduct a search of the records, you must provide the Selective Service Board number if the registration occurred in one of the following large cities: Oakland, Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, or San Francisco. For most other locations in California, we will search the records if you provide the city and county where you believe your ancestor registered. For rural areas with sparse populations, we will perform a search using the name of the county where you believe the individual registered.

The form (D.S.S. Form 1) had spaces for entries including, among others, name, place of residence, mailing address, telephone, age in years, date and place of birth, name and address of person who will always know your address, employer’s name and address, place of employment or business, signature and physical description of registrant (including race, height, weight, complexion, color of eyes and color of hair).

For more information, please visit The National Archives at San Francisco

Our facility does not hold any records that describe the jurisdictions of the local draft boards in California. If the registrant lived in one of the cities listed above and the board of registration is unknown, you must contact the Selective Service System to obtain the relevant Selective Service Board and other information that enables a search of our World War II Fourth Registration cards. Your inquiry should include the full name and complete address of the registrant, and should be sent to:

Selective Service System
National Headquarters
Records Section – PCA
1515 Wilson Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22209-2425
Telephone: 703-605-4049
Fax: 703-605-4071

For more information about records of the Selective Service System (Record Group 147) dated 1926-71, please visit The National Archives at San Francisco

NARA – Pacific Region (San Francisco)
Archival Records Operations (NRHA-S)
1000 Commodore Drive
San Bruno, CA 94066-2350
Telephone: 650-238-3501
Fax: 650-238-3510
E-mail: San Bruno Archives
URL: NARA - Pacific Region