Skip to content
Interpreting the Evidence

Wake Up Men of Canandaigua!

  • 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:

    Finger Lakes
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Wake Up Men of Canandaigua! Broadside, World War I, c. 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A poster calling for the men of Canandaigua not fighting in World War I to help harvest food by working on local farms, c. 1917.

Historical Context
On April 15, 1917, just a few weeks after the United States entered World War I, President Wilson addressed the nation. He requested that every American do their part to help the war effort. Specifically, Wilson called upon farmers to use every acre of land to produce extra food for the troops and allies. Wilson offered federal and state programs to provide access to seed, labor, and transportation. This poster issued in Canandaigua was an attempt to recruit male members of the community to help local farmers in the war effort. 
In addition to volunteering on farms, local residents were also asked to “save food.” Food conservation became a major part of the home front's contribution to the war. 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.
Once informed of their patriotic duty, many citizens willingly contributed to the war effort in any way they could find. Posters like this one were important in spreading the word about the different ways local residents could participate in the war effort. 

Essential Question
How do nation's attempt to satisfy basic economic needs during times of war?

Check for Understanding
Describe the key ideas and explain the message of this poster.

Historical Challenges
How much extra food did American farmers produce for the war effort during World War I? What about World War II?

Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a newspaper article about the volunteer farm laborers. Include information about who they are and what they did before they volunteered on the farm.

Art: Design a poster to recruit volunteers for a particular job that would be important to your community today. Possible ideas include the environment, schools, development, parks, or historic preservation.