County faces draft, alien registration as war draws near
Editors Note: This is one of a series of articles about the history of the Sun Advocate and the county it covers as a newspaper. These articles are being prepared as the 120th anniversary of the newspapers birth approaches in 2011.
The fourth quarter of 1940 brought about some large changes in people's thinking within the county, especially for those who between the ages of 21 and 35 in October.
For the first time since 1918, young men were asked to register for the draft.
While the United States was 14 months away from being forced into the battles that ranged around the world, and isolationism throughout the country was strong, the military and the federal government knew they needed to prepare for what they thought was imminent. Therefore they set up Selective Service Boards around the country, in communities large and small to start to process those that could fill the ranks when needed.
On Oct. 16. 1940, 2,486 men registered with selective service in Carbon County. They did it within their voting precincts, and were informed to do so through the mail and through stories in the Sun Advocate.
"Registration Day (as it was called) proved to be sort of a semi-holiday for most of the governmental offices were closed (and with) many of the county employees assisting in the registration," the Sun Advocate reported in the Oct. 17 issue.
That same day the county clerk at the time (B.H. Young) turned over the cards that had been made out the day before over to the selective service board which was already in the process of "shuffling the cards and assigning them serial numbers."
The preprinted cards the men filled out provided blanks for local board (Selective Service) number, name, serial number, address, spouse, address of spouse, date of birth, race, sex, birthplace, length of Utah residence prior to registration, name and address of father, name and address of mother, years of schooling and name of school and former employment or brief biography.
Members of the local Selective Service Board at the time included George Leatham (chair), Arthur Smith and J. Orvel Peterson, with Otto McKinnon named as the clerk of the board. The offices for the board were located in the then new Price City Hall.
The board became responsible for selecting young men for the draft, and also "classified" registrants as to their status for the draft. The classifications the board could use ranged greatly. There were basically four classifications, with subdivisions in each. Classification one was those available for service. Classification two included those that were deferred because of their occupation. Classification three were those deferred because of dependents. And finally there was classification four in which men were deferred because of the law or were unfit for the service.
Those the registered would be informed of their status based on the classifications as denoted by the board. I-A meant a young man was a top priority for the draft. Registrants could appel their classification if they wished, and some did. For that process possible draftees could contact Frank Hansen a local lawyer who had been chosen as the the appeals agent for the government in District 26.
Two months before the draft registration,another kind of registration had begun across the United States. On Aug. 22 the Sun Advocate carried a story concerning the registration of aliens that would be taking place beginning on Aug. 27. With the wars raging on all continents but North and South America, Congress decided that it would be a good idea to know who was in the country from other countries and what their national origin was. At first "specimen forms" were passed out at the post offices so those that needed to register would know what information would be needed and they would have time to gather it by the end date of Dec. 27. At the time the Alien Registration Act of 1940 required anyone without citizenship to register if they were 14 years old or older. Children below 14 were to be registered by their parents.
Ray Walters, the postmaster in Price at the time said that the specimen forms were needed so that the Post Office would know about how many registrations they would need to process. He also pointed out at the time that the registration was compulsory and that registrations would not be solicited.
"That is up to the non-citizens," he said in the paper at the time.
While the act was a kind of Alien census, and treated as such, it was really in reaction to the coming hostilities. Concern about aliens who were loyal to powers in Germany, Japan and Italy was a large part of the reason for the registration process.
The word about the registration was spread throughout the county by the Post Offices and by the Sun Advocate.