North Carolina WWI County Induction Lists Online

Author: 
Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist

As part of its two-year World War I digitization project, the State Archives of North Carolina has recently completed a project to scan and make available online a collection of World War I North Carolina county military induction lists. These lists—compiled between 1919 and 1920 by each North Carolina county local draft board—list the names of every man sent from the county’s local draft board to military camp during the war.

Between 1918 and 1940, the North Carolina Historical Commission (from which the State Archives of North Carolina and the North Carolina Museum of History originated) worked to collect original WWI records from the home front and from North Carolina soldiers. The state wanted to ensure future generations access to materials showing what life was like in North Carolina during WWI. The WWI North Carolina county induction lists were collected as part of this effort between 1919 and 1922. The induction lists are part of the WWI Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina, and are arranged in the collection North Carolina Draft Records (collection # WWI 3). The originals of these lists (including early drafts of the lists, which have not been digitized) are available for use freely to the public in the Search Room of the State Archives of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C.

The induction lists are organized alphabetically by last name, and include the serviceman’s name, home town, and age at time of induction into military service. The lists are not records of the men who registered in a given county for the WWI draft, nor is it a list of every man who was from that county who served in WWI. They are only lists of the men the counties were responsible for sending to U.S. military camps as part of the state of North Carolina’s federally-mandated quota for men to provide for federal military service. The lists are also available for all of North Carolina’s counties, one of the few sets of WWI records held in the Military Collection’s WWI Papers that document every county in the state.

The significance of these lists cannot be understated. They are arranged by race, with white WWI serviceman listed first, followed by a listing of all African American inducted from a given county. The African American lists (which are labeled “Colored” in keeping with the racial language of the WWI-era) are the only known compilation by county of North Carolina African Americans who entered military service. The North Carolina WWI Service Cards, which are index cards containing abbreviated service history for every North Carolina service individual, do not clearly indicate the race of the individual serving, as the cards were created by multiple people with different means of marking the individual’s race on the cards that do not correspond across the set of the cards.

 

The lists are now available to view online in the digital WWI collection of the North Carolina Digital Collections (NCDC), which is a joint project of the State Archives and State Library of North Carolina. You can find the induction lists by entering in the search bar for the WWI collection the phase “Local Draft Board Records,” and scroll down the search results to see all of the counties listed. The lists are available to download as JPEG images. We hope these records will encourage additional research into our state’s roll in WWI, as well as the men and women who served and sacrificed for our nation.