“The Old Man’s Draft”
After the United States entered World War II, a new Selective Service Act required that all men between the ages of 18 and 64 register for the draft. The Fourth Registration, or Old Man’s Registration, was held on April 27, 1942. The purpose of this registration was to collect information on the industrial capacity and skills of men who were born between April 27, 1877 and February 16, 1897 (ages 45 to 64). It was not intended that these men be drafted into military service but to determine if their labor skills could be used in the war effort. The registration would provide a complete inventory of manpower resources in the United States. The men had to fill out an extensive questionnaire, but unfortunately, the questionnaires have not survived.
Many of the registration cards have survived, however. Each record has 2 pages. The first page has the individual’s name, birth date, birth place, contact name etc. The second page is similar to the WWI draft registration, with physical description: race, height, weight, hair color, eye color, complexion, and identifying characteristics such as scars or burn marks. This information can provide a mental picture even if photographs of the individual don’t exist.
Note that records for the following states were destroyed and will never be available:
The remaining records are being digitized. Some are currently being indexed on the FamilySearch.org website. You can search the records already indexed or browse by locality. They are also available in the “U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942” collection on Ancestry.com.
Further details about the Old Man’s Draft can be found in the FamilySearch wiki.