World War One Selective Service



History: Conscription was established during the U.S. Civil War but proved to be unpopular. The law authorized release from service to anyone who furnished a substitute and, initially, to those who paid $300.

General conscription was reintroduced in WWI with the Selective Service Act of 1917. All men from 21 to 30 years old (later extended 18 to 45) had to register. Exemptions from service were granted to men who had dependent families or physical disabilities. Conscientious objector status was granted to members of pacifist religious organizations but they had to perform alternative service. Other was objectors were imprisoned, where several died. By the end of World War I about 2.8 million men had been inducted.

Source: “Selective Service” on


Every Monroe County man between 18 and (45) must now carry with him both his selective service registration card and his classification card, showing in what class he has been placed. Here is a list of the various classifications found on the cards, with an explanation of just what each means. They are given in the order in which they are likely to be called up.

1-A Liable for service; subject to call.

3-A Deferred because of dependents.

3-B Deferred because of dependents and occupation.

2-A Deferred because he is a necessary man in civilian activity.

2-B Deferred because of his occupation in a war industry.

2-C Deferred by reason of agricultural occupation.

      (2-B and 2-C will be taken up together.)

3-C Deferred because he has dependents and is in agricultural occupation.

4-B An official deferred by law. (None in this county…)

4-D Minister, deferred by law.

4-H Men from 38 to 45 years old, at present not liable for service.

4-A Men over 45, not liable for service.

4-F Men physically unfit for service.

Source: Undated newspaper article from unknown source provided by Don Duvall.