Skip to content
Interpreting the Evidence

Women of the Unadilla Branch of the American Red Cross

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    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:

    Southern Tier
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Women of the Unadilla Branch of the American Red Cross, World War I, c. 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Women of the Unadilla branch of the American Red Cross march in downtown Unadilla, World War I, c. 1917.
Historical Context
The Red Cross received its first congressional charter in 1900 and a second in 1905. This charter set forth the purpose of the organization - giving relief to and serving as a medium of communication between members of the American armed forces and their families, and providing national and international disaster relief and mitigation.

Though the American Red Cross was given this charter by Congress, it is not a federally funded organization. The American Red Cross is a non-profit, charitable organization that receives its funding from public donations.

During World War I, the American Red Cross faced an unprecedented national need for its service. Raising the funds to deliver this service required that the organization use advertising to appeal directly to the American people. The American Red Cross used many means of publicity, most of which the organization had never before employed, to encourage donations and volunteers. The American Red Cross assembled an advertising campaign that proved to be extremely effective.

The campaign included: posters; newspaper and magazine advertisements and articles; banners and billboards; brochures and leaflets; motion pictures; public speakers; and public events (including local parades and pageants).  In total, the War Funds brought in about $250,000,000, which significantly surpassed the American Red Cross’s expectations.

Essential Question
How do women contribute to solving national issues?
Check for Understanding
Describe the women in the photograph and explain their contribution to World War I.