1917 draft board
August 1917: Members of Los Angeles Draft Exemption Board No. 17 process requests for exemptions. From left: Robert M. Schearer, George J. Denis and Gail Johnson.
The Selective Service Act of 1916 was signed into law May 18, 1917, by President Woodrow Wilson. All males ages 21 to 30 were required to register. By August draft notices had been issued, and local draft exemption boards were reviewing draft exemption requests.
The above photo accompanied an article in the Aug. 9, 1917, Los Angeles Times on the draft exemption requests:
George Denis, chairman of city district No. 17, last night announced that his board will today post the names of seventeen men who failed to appear for examination last Monday, as listed for military service. Their names will be handed to the Federal District Attorney with a request that the men be rounded up.
Six exemption boards considered pleas for exemption from army service for the first time yesterday. Out of sixty-three cases presented, thirty-nine were allowed, seven held for further consideration and seventeen—a little less than one-fourth—refused outright.
Eleven claims for exemption were acted on last night by district No. 17. Six were denied, two were granted and three held for further investigation…
The board took the general ground that married men without dependent children should not be exempted. Men who claimed exemption for the support of widowed mothers were denied on the theory that a man can support a mother on $25 per month and as his pay is $30, if he really desires to care for his mother he can send her that amount. The same is true for dependent wives. The cases suspended were all on the grounds that the affidavits filed were not sufficient to support claims made…
A list of draft exemption boards for the city of Los Angeles was published in the July 8, 1917, edition of The Times. District No. 17 — out of a total of 18 — covered the area of:
That portion of the city from First street to Ninth street, from Alameda street (west) to Hoover street. —George J. Denis, chairman, Robert W. Shearer. Headquarters, Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Annex on Sixth street.
The windows in the above photo were lightened by a Los Angeles Times staff artist before publication in 1917.
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