Sunday, August 05, 2007

World War I Draft Registration Cards of Famous, Infamous, and Interesting People

This article was updated on 14 January 2019

While wandering around the National Archives website I came across several scanned World War I draft cards of a few famous and interesting people. I was fascinated by some of the details of the lives of these people, especially those who were not yet 20. Some were already well known. Some became famous much later.

The World War I draft card for legendary "Scarface" gangster Al Capone says the 19-year-old Alphonse Capone was a paper cutter for the United Paper Box Company in Brooklyn, New York in 1918.

World War I Draft Registration Card of George GerswhinGeorge Gerswhin's draft card, filed in New York City, gives his occupation as "actor - composor (sic)" at age 19. He would go on to write Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and Porgy and Bess (1935), among other great works. Another 19-year-old New York resident, Frederick Austerlitz Astaire, was already an actor. His place of employment in 1918 was "Winter Garden, Broadway & 50th St. NY." The Abba musical, Mamma Mia, once played at this theater. On the back of the famous dancer's draft card it says "legal name is Austerlitz but goes by name of Astaire." Fred Astaire would later star in George Gershwin's musical, Funny Face, in 1927, and the film version 30 years later with Audrey Hepburn.

The 19-year-old Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was a Federal government messenger in the War Dept. in Washington, DC. Unlike Gershwin, his 1918 draft card gives no indication of his future as one of the 20th Century's greatest composers.

On his June 5, 1917 World War I draft card, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, age 28, lists his dependents as "wife and 2 children." His wife was Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald (1890-1995). His children at the time were Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. (1915-1944), who died during World War II, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), who was elected president of the United States in 1960. JFK was born just a week before his father registered for the draft.

My favorite one is for master magician and escape artist Harry Houdini (1874-1926). On his 1918 draft card he put his middle name as "Handcuff," likely because he had become known as the "handcuff king."

World War I Draft Registration Card of Harry Houdini (detail)
These World War One draft cards of notable people at the National Archives website were scanned from the original cards, not microfilm, so you can get an idea of what the draft cards actually look like - they have been scanned in color and are reproduced fairly well. You can find scans of the cards mentioned in this article, along with draft cards of a few more famous people at: Notable Registrants of the World War I Draft at the National Archives at Atlanta

For help finding draft cards of your relatives and ancestors see:
How to Find World War One Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Mexico Death Records Index Updated

A group of great volunteers has finished transcribing an index for New Mexico deaths from 1941-1949. An earlier index they previously transcribed covers 1890-1940. For links to both indexes, along with some individual New Mexico county death indexes see:

Online New Mexico Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

Saturday, July 14, 2007

California Vital Records Indexes Online

Ancestry has recently added indexes for California marriages (1960-1985) and divorces (1966-1984) to their subscription-based collection of online genealogy databases. They also have indexes for California births (1905-1995) and deaths (1940-1997). For links to these and some other California genealogy indexes see:

Directory of Online California Vital Records Indexes - Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records

Monday, July 02, 2007

Recently Added Online Death Records Indexes

The Online Death Indexes and Records Directory has recently been updated with the following links...

- Walker County: Davis Cemetery Burials to 1994 - Dora, Alabama

- Arizona Death Records Index 1878-1956 & Birth Index 1887-1931 (update: 1956 added to the death index; 1931 added to the birth index) includes downloadable digitized copies of the death certificates

- Jefferson County Cemeteries - includes Mount Lindo Cemetery (near Morrison) and Golden Cemetery (in Golden)

- Highlands County Obituaries Index - early 1982-mid 2006

- Cook County: Wilmette Online Vital Records Indexes - includes a Death Certificate Index 1913-Oct. 1953 and other indexes
- Kankakee County: Kankakee Area Obituaries Index

- Hendricks County Obituary Database and Card File from the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library
- LaGrange County Index to Death Records 1882-1924

- Greenwood County: Records of the J. S. Maben Mortuary, Severy, Kansas 1901-1952
- Wilson County: W.A. Rankin Memorial Library Obituary Index ca. 1870-present (ongoing project)

- Boyd County Cemeteries

- Wayne County: Assorted Cemetery Listings for Plymouth, Michigan -- includes Civil War Veteran Burials, Old Baptist Cemetery, Presbyterian Cemetery, Riverside Cemetery, Shearer Cemetery
- Wayne County: Plymouth Historical Museum Archives -- includes mortality schedules and funeral home records

New Mexico
- Grant County Death Records and Obituaries

North Carolina
- Craven County Death Index 1914-2005 - also includes births (1914-2005) & marriages (1964-recent)
- Moore County Death Records Index 1987-present - also has indexes for births and marriages

- Hamilton County: Walnut Hills Cemetery Burials (Cincinnati)
- Jefferson County: Steubenville Herald-Star Newspaper Obituaries 1987-1999
- Scioto County: Gravestone Inscriptions from Greenlawn Cemetery pre-1900
- Summit County: Akron-Summit County Public Library Genealogy Indexes -- includes: Mount Peace Cemetery Interment Records 1880-1916; Springfield Township Cemetery Transcriptions; Akron Beacon Journal Obituaries Index

- Greene County Genealogy Records - includes indexes for births, marriages, obituaries, wills and deaths

- Denton County: Denton Record-Chronicle Obituary Indexes - Assorted Years (PDF files) also has birth & marriage indexes

- Norfolk City - Assorted Cemetery Listings

See: Online Death Indexes and Records for Canada
- Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics - indexes Births 1864-1877, Marriages 1864-1930, and Deaths 1864-1877 & 1908-1955

Thursday, June 07, 2007

World War II Database of Missing U.S. Service Personnel Now Online

The U.S. Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office has compiled a database of service members still unaccounted for following World War II. The database contains more than 70,000 names and was derived from records from the National Archives and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. You can access the database online here:

Service Personnel Not Recovered Following World War II (MIA)

Names will be removed from the database as remains are recovered and identified.

For a directory of more online World War II databases see:

World War II Indexes, Records and Databases on the Internet - USA

Monday, June 04, 2007

Recently Added Online Passenger Lists and Records

Links to the items listed below have been added to the Directory of Online Ship Passenger Lists and Records

Boston and New England section
- Maine Passenger Lists Index 1820-1867 (coverage varies by port)
- Assorted Pilgrim and Great Migration Ship Lists 1602-1638

New York
- Andrea Doria - Genoa to New York, July 1956 - list of passengers for the Andrea Doria, which collided with the Stockholm on 25 July 1956 near Nantucket, Massachusetts

- Tasmania Passenger Lists - Index of Convicts Transported to Tasmania - 19th Century & Index to Departures 1817-1867

- Memorial do Imigrante - Sao Paulo, Brazil (pre-1907 Brazil passenger arrivals) website is in Portuguese

- Quebec & Halifax Passenger Lists Indexing Project - currently indexes Quebec ports (including Montreal) from Nov. 1907-Oct. 1910 with some gaps; this is an ongoing project
- Port of New Westminster, British Columbia - Register of Chinese Immigration 1887-1908
- Canada Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 - can be searched by date, port and ship only - not searchable by name of passenger - time frame varies by port

- Assorted Passenger Lists to and from Cuba

United Kingdom
- Passenger Lists Leaving the United Kingdom (UK) 1890-1960 -- presently available online for 1890-1919 (more years are being added) searches are free - full results require payment