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Interpreting the Evidence

Total Troops Furnished by Each State and Territory

  • 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:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Total Troops Furnished by Each State and Territory, World War I, March 8, 1920 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Bar graph showing how many troops each state and territory mobilized to fight in World War I, March 8, 1920. 

Historical Context
As seen in this graph, the United States mobilized thousands of people to make up the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) of World War I.  As the graph shows, about ten percent – one out of every ten people – of those who served in the U.S. forces came from the state of New York.
When President Woodrow Wilson decided to commit US troops to assist the Allies and declared war on The Central Powers in April 1917, the United States had almost no established army. The fact that a manned and equipped force of over 4 million was soon would be deployed to Europe is a remarkable achievement and speaks to the level of patriotism with which the citizens of the country responded to the call. But it also reflects the level to which the government was able to mobilize such a military.
Relying on a combination of national and local draft boards, nearly one-quarter of the male population entered into military service, most of which served overseas with the American Expeditionary Force.
Estimates show as high as twenty-four million men between 18 and 31 registered for the draft with 3 million actually entering into military service. Another 300 to 400 hundred thousand volunteered to serve. A disproportionate number of conscripts seemed to have emerged from the Northeast and easternmost states of the Mid-West. Still, the efficiency and expediency with which the United States went from little to no army to such a large and prepared military cannot be overshadowed.

Essential Question
Why is the collection and presentation of data important to the functioning of a society?

Check for Understanding
Summarize the information presented in the table and explain the differences between the states with large contributions and those with small contributions.

Historical Challenges
Write a report on “all-volunteer armies” and their use in modern armed conflicts.

Interdisciplinary Connections
ELA/Media Arts: Analyze the role of recruiting posters and the role of advertising.

Math: Research and calculate the ratio of those who served versus the total population.