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[Detail] A French officer and his British ally at the front read the New York Times.

The Home Front

To help finance the war effort, the U.S. government issued a call for public support through Liberty Bond drives. Efforts were also expended to mobilize civilians to plant vegetable gardens and abstain from meat on certain days, all in an effort to do their part in the war. Society women joined in as well; one such group formed a gun club. Through such laws as the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918, the government suppressed dissent against the war.

Examine the following pages for evidence of how civilians were encouraged to support the war effort. Look for evidence in the collection that other countries, particularly the Allies, sought similar sacrifices from their civilian population.

The nation rapidly transformed from a civilian to a war economy. Factories were converted to produce military equipment and munitions, and women went to work in factories to fill jobs left vacant by men going to war. According to the “Events and Statistics: Finances of the War” essay, 2,000,000 women worked in war industries. Search the collection to find a variety of ways in which women supported the war effort; the New York Times of July 29, 1917, has several examples to start your research.

The war did not stop women from continuing their long history of demonstrations for the right to vote. Among the many marches to bolster support for a woman suffrage amendment, the Congressional Union for Woman’s Suffrage marched to the White House to encourage President Wilson to endorse a suffrage amendment to the Constitution and organized “silent sentinels” to stand guard insisting that the president take action. Shortly after the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, some women joined pacifist movements expressing opposition to U.S. involvement; these included Representative Jeannette Rankin and social worker Jane Addams. Many other women, including suffragist leader Carrie Chapman Catt, rallied to show their support. At the same time, they argued that if the United States was defending democracy in Europe, the nation ought to include women in its own democratic processes. President Wilson finally endorsed a constitutional amendment allowing women to vote in 1918.

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