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Interpreting the Evidence

Governor Whitman's Proclamation Concerning Nonessential Work

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Governor Whitman's Proclamation Concerning Nonessential Work, August 8, 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Governor Charles Whitman's proclamation asking New Yorkers, especially shoppers, to not request nonessential labor, like the delivery of goods, when more essential war time work is a priority, World War I, August 9, 1917.
Historical Context
With millions of Americans volunteering or registering for the draft and possible military service, the United States faced a labor shortage in key industrial areas as it entered the Great War. As the government sought to mobilize the entire nation for the war effort, every person would be needed to accomplish the unprecedented level of productivity that World War I would require.
Newly created government agencies such as the War Industry Board, the Shipping Board, and the Council of National Defense worked to re-organize and bolster industries vital to the war effort. On the home front, though, the feeling was that victory depended upon a massive nation-wide effort to produce, sacrifice, conserve, and give everything the people had to ensure the country had it needed to win in Europe.
The patriotic spirit showed in many ways. Those who could not fight in the armed forces turned out in great numbers in the factories and on the farms to give what they could. The cooperative volunteer system and nationalism helped the nation achieve a massive productivity turnaround without both the soldiers and the rest of civilian population suffering from shortages.
Essential Question
How do citizens on the homefront contribute to a war effort?
Check for Understanding
Identify the main goal of the governor's proclamation and explain his strategy for meeting that goal.
Historical Challenges
Describe the attitude of everyday Americans in dealing with life at home during the war as shown in newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets.
Interdisciplinary Connections
ELA: Write a letter to the governor explaining a citizen’s contribution to the war.