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Remembering World War I

During the First World War, every American was urged to participate in the war effort in some way. This call of duty even reached into America’s schools. Children were asked not only to conserve resources, but also to actively contribute to defeating the Central Powers. In New York State, the Board of Regents attempted to create school programs focused on winning the war. The Board called on all boys between the ages of 16 and 18 to receive physical and military training in school. In 1916, the Military Training Commission was created to oversee this training.

However, it was not just the Board of Regents that spurred the involvement of New York’s children in the war effort. In an atmosphere of patriotism, there were plenty of opportunities for New York’s youth to do their part. Children all across the state participated in fundraising efforts. When Mary Bradford, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Colorado and 1917-1918 President of the National Education Association, held a fundraising contest to see which of the country’s schools had the highest per capita War Savings Stamps contribution, Quaker Ridge school of New Rochelle in Westchester County won. Aside from raising money, school children of both genders participated in knitting clubs to produce goods to send to the troops at the front. In order to make their patriotism known to their older countrymen, New York’s children also participated in patriotic parades and memorial services both during and after the war.

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