Lesson Plan: The Selective Service Act and History of Military Conscription in the US

The Origin of the Selective Service Act

National World War I Museum Curator Lora Vogt discusses the origin of the Selective Service Act.


The Selective Service Act enacted on May 18, 1917 after America had declared war on Germany and entered into World War I, gave the federal government the power to increase the size of the national army through the compulsory enlistment of men aged 21-30. The law was amended in August 1918 to expand the age range to include all men aged 18 - 45. In this lesson students will look at military drafts used throughout US history, and the evolution of the Selective Service Act from World War I through the end of the Vietnam War.


Additional Resources


  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Civil War
  • Conscription
  • Draft
  • Selective Service
  • Vietnam War
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • World War 1
  • World War 2


U.S. History


High SchoolUniversity