Friday, December 2, 2011

Ancestry.com Releases Two Million North Carolina World War II Draft Cards for the First Time Online in Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Detailed Information on North Carolinians including Andy Griffith, Billy Graham and Ralph Earnhardt Available for Free through December 7

PROVO, UTAH – (December 2, 2011) – In remembrance of the upcoming 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor marking the entrance of the United States into World War II, Ancestry.com (Nasdaq: ACOM), the world’s largest online family history resource, announced it has made available images of nearly two million draft cards filled out by North Carolina residents to its World War II records collection. The draft cards were completed by men living in North Carolina during the early 1940s who were born between 1897 and 1929, a more recent time period than ever made available before. Ancestry.com is offering six days (December 2-7) of free access to these U.S. World War II North Carolina Young Men’s Draft Cards, and its entire World War II records collection to help foster greater insight and detail into families’ histories.

The release of these Young Men’s Draft Cards from North Carolina marks Ancestry.com’s first installment of U.S. World War II draft cards from this series to be released online. Ancestry.com worked in conjunction with the National Archives and Records Administration in Atlanta to digitize the records and make them available on the site. Information such as name, serial number, address, age, place of birth, employer’s name and physical measurements are included on the cards.

In 1940, due to an increase in conflict around the world, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the first peacetime selective service draft in the history of the U.S. With the country’s entrance into World War II a year later, a new selective service act required that all men between ages 18 and 65 register for the draft. Seven registrations were held between November 1940 and October 1946. More than 50 million American men registered, and more than 10 million of those were inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces. Until now, information on only one of these registrations had been made available to the public.

“North Carolinians have always played an important role within all branches of the U.S. military, and during World War II more of our residents served in the U.S. Army than in any other branch,” said Eric Muller, a University of North Carolina law professor who has written about the draft in WWII. “The draft cards that Ancestry.com has made available provide North Carolinians with an important resource to connect to their families’ history of World War II service.”

According to the North Carolina State Archives, more than370,000 men and womenfrom the state served in all branches of the military during World War II. By the end of the War, nearly 10,000 Tar Heels had lost their lives in the line of duty.

Although they did not serve in the military, notable North Carolinians whose draft cards can be found in this collection include:

  • Andy Griffith—Actor, producer and director known best for The Andy Griffith Show, on which he portrayed a sheriff in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, from 1960 to 1968. When Griffith registered for the draft as a 6’½” 18 year-old in June 1944 in Surry County, where he was born and raised, and his occupation was listed as “unemployed.”
  • Billy Graham—Famous American Christian evangelist known for his radio and television broadcasts. When Graham filled out his draft card through the registrar in Wheaton, Illinois in October 1940, he was a student at Wheaton College, but the slim 21-year-old (6’2½”, 140 pounds) listed his home address in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Ralph Earnhardt—NASCAR legend and patriarch of the Earnhardt racing dynasty, Ralph was father of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt and grandfather of current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt’s draft card notes the 18-year-old was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina and was working as a farmhand in town when he was drafted in February 1946. It also references a scar on the left side of his face.

In addition to the North Carolina Young Men’s Draft Cards, Ancestry.com is also featuring the following World War II records as part of the free promotion:

  • World War II Navy Muster Rolls (1939-1949)—The most comprehensive set of these records ever released online. Nearly all enlisted personnel who served aboard a Navy ship between January 1939 and January 1949 are included in this collection, including more than 2,400 Americans who were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl Cemetery) Database—More than 120,000 records and images of headstones and names on memorials from 1949 to 1976. Of the 13,000 buried at the Cemetery, 700 are veterans who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

These new World War II collections can be found at www.ancestry.com/pearlharbor.

“World War II impacted millions of American families and we felt this was an appropriate time to make our collection available at no cost and provide the public an opportunity to explore through records, how the War may have touched their family,” said Josh Hanna, Executive Vice President, Ancestry.com. “Ancestry.com hosts the largest online collection of historical military records and these new additions to our World War II catalog add further depth to this important collection.”

About Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com)

Ancestry.com Inc. (Nasdaq: ACOM) is the world's largest online family history resource, with more than 1.7 million paying subscribers. More than 7 billion records have been added to the site in the past 15 years. Ancestry users have created more than 28 million family trees containing over 2.8 billion profiles. Ancestry.com has local Web sites directed at nine countries that help people discover, preserve and share their family history, including its flagship Web site at www.ancestry.com.