The Selective Service: What does it mean for you?

During this lesson, the student will look at D. S. S. Form 150 (Order to Report for Induction), the 1970 Random Selection Sequence (lottery), and A Volunteer Military or a Draft? (video) Through the investigation of these sources, background information on the sources, and teacher-guided discussion, the student will learn how the Selective Service relates to their own lives. By these means, the student will gain a better understanding of how our government impacts their lives and will be one step closer to being informed participants in the political process.

Historical Background

Although we are taught that military service members who fought on the battlefields of our nation’s history were there voluntarily to defend out of a sense of honor, closer investigation reveals the use of conscription. With the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt established the first peace time draft and set up the Selective Service as a federal agency. From 1948 to 1973 military vacancies were not filled by volunteers so the draft was used. The draft ended in 1973 and registration with the Selective Service was suspended in 1975. President Jimmy Carter began utilizing the registration again in 1980 after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Prior to this modern conscription, soldiers were even drafted by door to door selection during the Civil War.

Through the use of contextualization, close reading, and sourcing the student will investigate primary sources and gain a better understanding of how this history relates to them personally and to their civic responsibility.

Lesson Objective

The student will investigate the history of the draft in our country as a means of coming to understand their own civic responsibility when it comes to registration with the Selective Service and political participation.



  1. The teacher will pass out to students the 1970 Random Selection Sequence chart. The teacher will ask students what this document is, what the words and numbers in the chart mean, and what was going on at that time in our nation’s history. Students are given time to determine where their own birthdays fall on the chart.
  2. The Order to Report for Induction will be shown on the board and students will be given two or three minutes to write their observations on a sheet of paper.
  3. The teacher will then ask historical thinking questions: What is this document? From where did it originate? To where was it mailed and to whom? When was it delivered? What was going on in the world at the time? What language do you notice? Does this language seem natural or is it odd?
  4. The teacher will give a brief background of the man who received the letter and how it impacted him and his family.
  5. Teacher will go over brief history of the draft then show video A Volunteer Military or a Draft? during which students will pay attention for answers to questions on viewing guide. At the conclusion of the video, class will review student responses.
  6. Teacher will ask students what this means for them personally and show Virginia Division of Motor Vehicle site explaining Selective Service registration. Discussion will be encouraged by teacher questioning.


The students will answer the “So What?” question by explaining what this information means for them as responsible, patriotic citizens and what they think they might do differently this school year as a result of this lesson. This formative assessment related to SOLs GOVT.17 c-e and GOVT.18 c-e will aid in preparing students for an SOL formatted summative assessment in the next week.


Order to Report for Induction (D. S. S. Form 150) as mailed to Isaac Philemon Siers, April 1, 1943. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1943. From family documents (accessed August 2012).

1970 Random Selection Sequence, By Month and Day. (accessed August 2012).