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Interpreting the Evidence

Home Card, Albany County Home Defense Committee

  • 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:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    Capital District
    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Home Card, World War I Albany County Home Defense Committee, c. 1917 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Home Card, World War I Albany County Home Defense Committee, c. 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Home card from the Albany County Home Defense Committee to remind residents about food rationing, c. 1917.
Historical Context
War often affects the ability of countries to produce food. World War I created famine conditions in much of Europe, as large tracts of land became battlefields. Wheat and quality meats were at the top of the shortage lists.
In 1917, the United States Food Administration began a campaign to encourage the voluntary reduction in the consumption of certain foods. Wheat was one of the items that appeared on the food shortage list. The government did not want to appear as a dictatorship by demanding compliance. Therefore, a campaign appealing to the patriotism and conscience of the citizens was launched. Government agencies, local businesses, and educational institutions were solicited to help spread information on how to help conservation efforts.
Home cards, like the one pictured here, were distributed to encourage and educate the general population on using conservation measures. Many communities adopted strategies like “Wheatless Wednesdays” which meant they served meals containing no wheat. The pamphlets, posters, and educational brochures included recipes using acceptable substitutes and other ways of reducing the consumption of the items in short supply. Community efforts toward conservation resulted in national support of the war effort.
Essential Question
How does military conflict impact a national economy?
Check for Understanding
Describe the strategies used to counter the economic strains of the war and explain how these strategies would contribute to the war effort.
Historical Challenges
What values and traditions developed from some of the conservation methods mentioned in this home card and continued after the war was over? How do you think these wartime practices became permanent habits among the American people? Do you think any of the suggestions listed in this home card would be considered bad advice today? Explain your answer.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Design a “home card” educating citizens on environmental conservation. Use the home card in this lesson as a template for this assignment.
Science: The home card asks citizens to burn wood instead of coal for fuel if possible. Research the use of wood and coal as fuel sources. How does each one affect the environment? Which one is more cost efficient? Compare to modern fuel sources other than coal and fuel, asking the same two questions.