At a Glance

Did you know that the draft was used in times of peace, as well as war?

Selective Service System

The Selective Service System was set up as an individual agency in 1940 to organize military draft registration and the induction of drafted soldiers. Contrary to popular opinion, the draft, was in use until 1973 during both times of war and peace. Not all military positions filled by the draft were combat.

The Selective Service System website is not particularly rich in useful classroom resources. However, if you are planning on teaching a unit on World War I or II; Korea; or, in particular, the Vietnam War, information on the draft could be a good way to get students to imagine themselves in a historical position.

Try the statistics page for the total number of inductees for the previously mentioned wars, as well as the annual totals between 1917 and 1973. You can also access the Vietnam lottery results.

If your high school students are concerned about the draft, you can read up on changes since the Vietnam War era, or access the actual Military Service Selection Act, complete with all amendments through 2003. An overview of the service history and policy, designed for teachers, is also available as a PDF file.

Two other primary source documents are available as links from the site. These are Executive Order 11967—Relating to Violations of the Selective Service Act and Proclamation 4483 Granting Pardons For Violations of the Selective Service Act.