• For Teachers & Students
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Uncle Sam Wants You
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The Draft and WWII

On September 16, 1940, the United States instituted the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which required all men between the ages of 21 and 45 to register for the draft. This was the first peacetime draft in United States' history. Those who were selected from the draft lottery were required to serve at least one year in the armed forces. Once the U.S. entered WWII, draft terms extended through the duration of the fighting. By the end of the war in 1945, 50 million men between eighteen and forty-five had registered for the draft and 10 million had been inducted in the military.

Although the United States was not at war, many people in the government and in the country believed that the United States would eventually be drawn into the wars that were being fought in Europe and East Asia. Isolationism, or the belief that American should do whatever it could to stay out of the war, was still strong. But with the fall of France to the Nazis in June 1940, Americans were growing uneasy about Great Britain’s ability to defeat Germany on its own. Our own military was woefully unprepared to fight a global war should it called upon to do so. National polls showed a growing majority in favor of instituting a draft.

Take a look at some of the primary documents related to the draft from the Museum’s Education Collection.

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Student Travel – WWII Educational Tours
High school and college students, learn the leadership principles that helped win WWII on a trip to France or during a weeklong residential program in New Orleans. College credit is available, and space is limited.

See You Next Year! HS Yearbooks from WWII
Collected from across the United States, the words and pictures of these yearbooks present a new opportunity to experience the many challenges, setbacks and triumphs of the war through the eyes of America’s youth.

The Victory Gardens of WWII
Visit the Classroom Victory Garden Project website to learn about food production during WWII, find lesson plans and activities for elementary students, get tips for starting your own garden and try out simple Victory Garden recipes!

The Science and Technology of WWII
Visit our new interactive website to learn about wartime technical and scientific advances that forever changed our world. Incorporates STEM principles to use in the classroom.

Kids Corner: Fun and Games!
Make your own propaganda posters, test your memory, solve puzzles and more! Learn about World War II and have fun at the same time.

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