08 November 2013

The Great War

On the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:00 am in 1918, by agreement, the guns of the nations at war since 1914 fell silent. At its conclusion, the total military dead was 8.5 million. Estimates of civilian casualties range from 6 to 13 million.

Under any reckoning, World War I, "The War to End All Wars," (AKA "The Great War") was a cataclysm of destruction and slaughter. The BDC offers these suggestions how to learn more about your World War I ancestor.


The official roster of South Carolina soldiers, sailors and marines in the World War, 1917-1918 is in the BDC Research Room for family historians to find a synopsis of an ancestor's WWI service record. We also maintain an obituary file which includes notices of local men killed during the War and a vertical file headed History--World War, 1914-1918. The BDC postcard collection contains a number of contemporary postcards about the training of Marines on Parris Island during the period.

You can find World War I Draft Registration cards in the Ancestry Library Edition database we provide inside all Library facilities.  This record series is particularly important because in 1917 and 1918, approximately 24 million men living in the United States completed a World War I draft registration card. These registration cards represent approximately 98% of the men under the age of 46. The total U.S. population in 1917-1918 was about 100 million individuals. In other words, close to 25% of the total population is represented in these records.

To learn more about the types of records compiled about World War I, read the Prologue article, They Answered the Call: Military Service in the United States Army During World War I, 1917-1919 by Mitchell Yockelson which is available on line at
http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/fall/military-service-in-world-war-one.html. Contact the National Archives for a copy of the official military service record of a U.S. veteran who served during the Great War.  Details at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/.
Please note: Regular hours resume Tues., Nov. 12.  The Research Room will be open customary hours, 10 am until 5 pm each weekday.

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