The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Americans Go To War

When Congress declared war in April 1917, the United States military had just 200,000 soldiers.  America had to raise a large number of troops to fight a modern war with trenches and new technology.  This number could not be achieved through volunteers alone.

On May 18, 1917, the U.S. government passed the Selective Service Act, which required all males between the ages of 21 and 31 to register for military service.

The draft was then conducted through random lottery.  A notice was sent to the selected person, who then reported to a local board and received a physical.  If they passed, the individual reported to a basic training camp.  After 8 weeks of training, the soldier was sent to Europe.

Towns and cities across the U.S., including Coatesville, greatly supported their draftees.  Men were proud to register and their friends and families cheered for them as they left to serve their country.