This week marks the 100th anniversary of the first military draft registration in the United States. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Selective Service Act of 1917 into law which required men between the ages of 21 to 31 years old to register for military service. Registering for the draft was a major event as a parade was held in Birmingham, and 75,000 people lined the streets. General Leonard Wood was the special guest and raised the American flag over Capital Park (which is now Linn Park).
Twenty-four million men registered for the draft, which constituted 23 percent of the U.S. population. In Birmingham, registration officials estimated that 25,000 men registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. The registration form required 12 questions including your occupation, employer, previous military service, marital status, dependents, physical description, and any reason for seeking an exemption to the draft. Birmingham was the only city that had African American registrars and separate registration locations. To denote that a registrant was African American, the left hand corner of the registration card was cut off. Today, registering for the Selective Service is a simple online form that just requires your name, address, birthday, and social security number.