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Interpreting the Evidence

"Battle Cry of the Mothers," World War I, c. 1917

  • 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

  • Topics:

    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load "Battle Cry of the Mothers," World War I, c. 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

New York State Archives, NYSA_A3167-78A_B7_BattleCryoftheMothers

Document Description
Angela Morgan's poem "Battle Cry of the Mothers," c. 1917. [3 pages]

Historical Challenges
Find another poem written about a different American war. Does the poet support or oppose the war he or she is writing about? Use textual evidence from the poem to support your answer. How do you think the poem you found affected public opinion about the war effort?

Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a poem about an issue or event in the news today. The poem should be written to express your view and opinion on the issue.

Art: As you read the poem, think about an image that could represent the ideas expressed in the poem. Draw the image.

Historical Context
Angela Morgan was born in Mississippi around the year 1875. She lived most of her life with her mother and her three sisters. She was a performer, poet, and journalist. During the early 1900s, she wrote for newspapers in Chicago, New York, and Boston. Her poems were featured in publications like The Cosmopolitan, The Delineator, Everybody's Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Hearst's Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, The London Poetry Review, The Outlook, and Redbook. Angela Morgan used her writing to promote the ideals of social justice and advocated for world peace and humanitarian efforts. She was opposed to capital punishment, the oppression of women, and exploitation of the poor. As evident from this poem and her other writings, she was extremely outspoken about her opposition to the war.

The United States government appealed to women, particularly mothers, to support the war effort and provide moral and emotional support to their sons. The Secretary of the Interior delivered a speech directed at mothers of soldiers in 1917 in an attempt to rally their support for the war and the draft. He told them that the war could not be won without the willingness of their sons to fight for the values and morals of their country.

Morgan’s poem countered the argument made by U.S. authorities. She appealed to the emotional ties of mothers to their sons. As a proponent of anti-war sentiment, Morgan used her power as a writer to influence her reader’s opinion about the war.

Compelling Question
How are civilians impacted by war?

Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of the lyrics and explain the impact of war on mothers.


Clarke, Ida Clyde Gallagher. American Women and the World War. D. Appleton Co., 1918