How accurate is the year of birth on the WWI registration card?

+11 votes
Very often I find the year of birth is exactly one year different on the WWI registration card as is otherwise found and I wondered if there is a reason for this and is this document an accurate proof of the year a person was born.
in The Tree House by Vincent Piazza G2G6 Pilot (241k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway
Evidence that a number of enrolees made themselves look a year older than they actually were so they could get into the military?

I've never seen this myself. But I doubt it's universal across all registration cards.

Can you tell if the information was provided directly by the registrant? Or by someone else?
I always figured they were accurate, maybe fudged a year by the potential soldier on hearing he could avoid the draft if he were a year older or a year younger.  And once it crossed my mind it could be some malicious information put out by some source at least more than 5 years ago to prove that somebody was mining their site for information.  I don't know.  But I would say I see this about 20% - 30% of the time.

For me the one I treat as gospel on the birth date is the Social Security Index because with that you're talking real money, benefits and that's not easy to distort the truth with the Treasury Department.
Some men lied to get into the war.  My Uncle has two birthdates because he was fudging things with the government.

Found this for a quick read.

UPDATE: She estimates about 1/3 are off by a year which is in line with your experience.
Audie Murphy lied to get into the war.

See note at bottom.

Michael Stills , I have read that previously somewhere. :)

2 Answers

+2 votes
Vincent, FWIW I have not been seeing that.  And up until you said that, I had been considering both the WWI and WWII draft registration cards as great sources.  I don't think they really constitute "proof", but they were completed by the subject himself, who knows all that personal data better than anyone, including how to spell his own name!  And they even include a physical description.

Just curious if you're seeing a really high percentage of inconsistencies and what other sources you're comparing?  I guess I would be inclined to trust actual birth or death records or a tombstone inscription more than a registration card, but not census data or marriage records.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (433k points)
I agree, I was busy helping somebody with their realtives and I start seeing this again with the birthyear they have(no source) and the birthyear on the WWI -  a fifth to a quarter off by a year
+2 votes
There is no year of birth listed on the card is an Alien Registration card, it was issued following a proclamation of war by Woodrow Wilson in 1917.  The date on the card is February 25th, 1918 but he was born in Seelow, Markisch-Oderland, Brandenburg, Germany in 1887.  I have his papers (a booklet) from the Prussian Cavalry, Ulanen Regiment as well.  But the long held family legend I was told since a boy was that he was on board a ship when WW-1 "broke out" and the enlisted men were allowed to leave while German officers needed to return to the fatherland.  How do I verify that?
by Frederick Ellis G2G1 (1.2k points)
edited by Frederick Ellis

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