Skip to content
Interpreting the Evidence

Cortland's 8th Grade Students Sell Thrift Stamps to Support the War Effort

  • 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:

    Central New York
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Cortland's 8th Grade Students Sell Thrift Stamps to Support the War Effort, c. 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A group of eighth-graders sold Thrift Stamps for the war effort, Cortland, New York, c. 1917.

Historical Context
During World War I, the government relied heavily on war bonds to finance the war. However, many Americans could not afford even the cheapest war bond which cost 50 dollars. War bonds funded $21 million of the $33 million costs of the war. The Treasury Department began issuing Thrift Stamps and War Savings Stamps to bring in more money and allow those who could not afford to buy war bonds to contribute to the war effort.
 Each stamp cost 25-cents and 16 stamps could be exchanged for a War Savings Certificate. These certificates were insured against loss and could be sold back to the post office with ten days written notice. War Savings Certificates accumulated 4 percent interest compounded quarterly and the investor did not pay taxes on the profit. If the purchaser chose to hold on to the certificate until January 1, 1923, the certificate would be considered mature and could be sold back to the government for 5 dollars. The Thrift Stamps raised $1 billion for the war effort.
School teachers brought this fund-raising effort to their students in an effort to encourage patriotism and teach the importance of saving. 

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

Check for Understanding
Describe how these children felt about their civic participation using evidence from the photograph.