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Interpreting the Evidence

Liberty Loan Math Problems

  1. Load Liberty Loan Math Problems Created by Teachers of the Arnold Avenue School, World War I, c. 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Mathematical word problems about Liberty Loans arranged by teachers of the Arnold Avenue School, World War I, 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 cost 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. The teachers at Arnold Avenue Elementary School in Amsterdam, New York wrote these math problems in an effort to keep students thinking about the ways they could contribute to the war effort.

Essential Question
How do nations finance a war?

Check for Understanding
Explain the multiple goals of this document.
Historical Challenges
Research the War Savings Stamps and Liberty Bond programs during World War I. Using the information collected, determine whether it was more profitable to buy the stamps or the bonds.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Have the students complete the word problems.
ELA/Math: Write your own story problem focused on a current event in your society.