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Interpreting the Evidence

Mrs. Charles E. Simonson, President of a Support League

  • 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:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Mrs. Charles E. Simonson, President of a Support League, World War I, c. 1919 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Photograph of Mrs. Charles E. Simonson, president of a support league during World War I, c. 1919
Historical Context
While men were fighting overseas during WWI to ensure that the world was “safe for democracy”, women were fighting on the home front for their own democratic ideologies, including the right to vote.  

Women’s roles in WWI were relatively limited to domestic responsibilities.  Images of women taking care of men as nurses or doing clerical work as telephone operators were common among U.S. propaganda for the war and in other images of the time period.  Despite the fact that the women’s suffrage movement was picking up steam, these were the images that permeated into American households and reinforced traditional gender roles within the family and society.

Additionally, women aided in the war effort by rationing their food, selling Liberty Bonds, fundraising for the Red Cross, and supplying other goods needed by soldiers.  In these ways women became crucial players in the war effort at home.  In order to successfully mobilize and organize these important volunteer efforts women’s support leagues developed.
Essential Question
How do women contribute to national issues?
Check for Understanding
Describe the woman in the photograph and explain her role during World War I.
Historical Challenges
Was WWI a watershed for women’s rights or a missed opportunity?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Draw a poster depicting women’s importance in aiding in the war effort.
Science: What medicinal advancements were made in the years coming up to WWI that help nurses take care of wounded soldiers?