Author Archives: michaeljohnneill

About michaeljohnneill

Genealogy author and speaker.

Draft Registrations Do Not Mean They Served

Draft registrations are just that: registrations. There is a difference between registering for the draft, being drafted, and volunteering.

Usually all men between a certain age were required to register when there was a draft registration. Some men were drafted. Some men volunteered.

If your male relative fit in the range of years of birth to register, you should check for a registration–even if he did not serve.

The World War Two Draft Registration (Young Men’s Draft) for Ola Finis Lake from the State of Missouri. He did not serve in the military.

This is the World War II Draft Registration card for Mimka Johnson Habben (“Old Men’s Draft” registration). He did not serve in the war.

This is the World War I Draft Registration Card for Henry Ufkes. He did not serve.

You can search World War Draft Registrations for US residents:


The “last names” Nmi, Nmn, Lnu

Some genealogists when they have an unknown name want to put something in that blank. That’s why in some databases you will see things such as:

  • Nmi–No Middle Initial
  • Nmn–No Middle Name
  • Lnu–Last Name Unknown
  • Unk–Unknown
  • Blank–Blank [be careful as Blank can be an actual surname]

My personal preference is to not use such terms. If you feel the need to put something in the spot, use actual blanks or dashes.


What You Think…

How much information in your genealogy files is there because you “thought” it instead of finding a record or source to provide evidence of it?

You may think that your relatives were married in a certain town, but the marriage record only says the name of the county.

You may think great-great-grandpa was born in Jackson Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, but all the records you have only say the name of the county.

You may think that your grandparents attended the same church as your great-grandparents, but it’s possible they did not.

Researchers want to think. It’s essential.

Just remember that before putting down locations, events, etc. we need more than just what we think to be true.

Review materials you compiled early in your research? Is there information you put down because you “thought” it was true? That could be why you have a brick wall.

Check out GenealogyBank‘s offer for our fans, followers, and subscribers.

Read the Fine Print

Sometimes records are kept on forms with with small print. Read that print–it’s the question the person was actually answering and that might not be what you necessarily think it is at first glance.

And when the clerk squeezes a word in a form? They are not trying to show how small they can write? Annotations and comments added in minuscule handwriting can be bigger clues than the rest of the entire record.


Include Adequate Detail

Knowing where something was located is helpful for a variety of reasons.

Before saving an image, make certain you have adequate detail. I thought I had enough for this 1947 obituary–after all, I had the name of the newspaper. But in reading it I realized that the state was not listed in the item. Of course, I knew the state and readers at the time knew it as well.

But someone later might not. Better to have too much detail than not enough.

My new image has the city and state spelled out.

Never Assume Who that Permanent Address Isn’t

Research revealed that this 52-year draft registrant listed his mother as his “permanent contact” on this US World War II “Old Men’s Draft Registration” card. That’s not who I thought it was because of his age and the fact that the last name didn’t “match.” The name needed to be researched as it also could have been a sister or a married daughter.

This card almost wasn’t looked at “because what can it really tell me?”

I found out just what it could tell me–a name that I didn’t have before.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

It can be easy to get stuck in a genealogical rut.

Consider working on an entire new family–in a location that is different and with people who are members of a different ethnic group or social class. The location should really be different–three counties away in the same state usually isn’t different–unless one area is urban and one is rural. Consider changing up your time period as well.

In trying to “figure out” my DNA matches, I’ve been forced to do more mid-to-late 20th century research than I usually do. That’s good. Doing it has allowed me to go back to my other time periods and locations with renewed interest.

And I made a few discoveries in the process.