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Interpreting the Evidence

Cooperstown Boys Knitting for the Front

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    Central New York
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Photograph of Cooperstown Boys Knitting for the Front, 1918 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The "manly boys" of Cooperstown High School worked on behalf of the Atlantic Division of the American Red Cross. They knitted garments for World War I soldiers, 1918.

Historical Context
The United State declared war on Germany in April of 1917. Germany surrendered in November of 1918. During this time of American involvement, many organizations were founded to help with the war effort at home.
The national Junior Red Cross was founded in 1917 to help support the troops in World War I. Teachers and the American Red Cross developed a cooperative relationship to get children involved in the war effort. President Wilson issued a challenge for America’s schoolchildren, “Is not this perhaps the chance for which you have been looking to give your time and efforts in some measure to meet our national needs…?”
Children paid 25-cents for annual membership to the Junior Red Cross. Members were encouraged to perform services vital to the war effort. A major contribution of American schoolchildren was thousands of knitted wool socks, scarves, hats, and sweaters which were sent to American soldiers on the war front. Junior members also helped to produce medical supplies and furniture. The students put together school supplies and other necessities in “Friendship Boxes” to send to children in the countries where the war was being fought. The Red Cross estimates that the Junior Red Cross members produced ten percent of all the organization’s contributions during the war, totaling over 3.5 million dollars.
 The boys in the photograph above knitted items for the war effort and may have been featured in the local Cooperstown paper.

Essential Question
How do children exercise their civic participation and show support for their country?

Check for Understanding
Describe the civic participation of these boys based on the evidence in the photograph.

Historical Challenges
Find evidence of another time in American history when children contributed to a war effort. What services did these children provide? How do you think these services helped the war effort?

Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: If each of these boys knitted two items per week, how many items could the entire group knit for soldiers in one year?

English Language Arts: Write a letter to a soldier to accompany one of the pieces that a boy is knitting.

Art: Knitting demonstration followed by a knitting lesson for students to observe the level of difficulty and the effort put forth by these children