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Interpreting the Evidence

American Red Cross Poster

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load World War I American Red Cross Poster, c. 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
World War I American Red Cross poster, c. 1917.
Historical Context
The American Red Cross, founded in 1882, grew rapidly during World War I. Red Cross volunteers supported American and Allied troops and provided limited services for prisoners of war and victims of the war. Support for the troops included a camp service, a canteen service, a home service, and a hospital service. The American Red Cross set up fifty-four hospitals overseas during the war which provided medical services for the wounded. Four hundred Red Cross workers lost their lives in World War I, of which 330 were women.

World War I increased the demand for the services offered by the Red Cross. The American Red Cross used posters, like the one pictured here, to solicit donations and volunteers to help with their humanitarian efforts. The propaganda campaigns appear to have been successful since the number of members increased from 16,708 in 1914 to 20,390,173 in 1918. The total amount of donations, including money and materials, for 1918 reached 400 million dollars.
Essential Question
How do citizens contribute to a war effort?
Check for Understanding
Identify the main idea of the poster and explain the purpose.
Historical Challenges
What services does the American Red Cross provide today? Who do these services help? How does the Red Cross help in modern conflicts abroad?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Art: Write a letter home to your parents describing your work as a Red Cross volunteer in World War I.
Science: Research and describe one particular medical technology used in army hospitals during World War I.