U.S. World War I: The Homefront

In the Beginning

Major Speeches

*Eugene Debs was arrested and convicted of Espionage and Sedition Acts for speaking out against the war in June 15, 1918. His case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in Deb's vs U.S. court case.

American Leaders Speak: This collection of speeches from American Leaders at the turn of the century is available thanks to the Nation's Forum Collection.


*This poster was originally produced as the cover for Leslie's Weekly but quickly became one of the most popular posters in the world. The artist, James Montgomery Flagg, would go on to produce 46 more posters to help with the war effort - www.loc.gov

*This was another poster produced by James Montgomery Flagg.

*An advertisement for young men to join the Navy.



*Political cartoons were used as a way to convince others the need to join the war. In this cartoon, the "Huns" or Germans are booze lovers who like to cause crime, violence, and poverty.

*"Boardman Robinson published political cartoons for a number of mainstream American periodicals until his strongly anti-war stance during World War I led him to publish in the Masses and face federal prosecution for his work." - dcc.newberry.org

*Bernice Smith was a young woman of 20 who made a comment to Navy enlistment office "Gee, if I was a man, I'd join the Navy." Artist Chandler Christy overheard her and quickly made a poster using her statement as the tagline. Ten days after posing for the poster, Bernice did join the Navy as a yeoman serving for three years. -http://archive.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=42931

*This is a scene from the propaganda movie titled Stake Uncle Sam to Play Your Hand which was created as a way to make American's angry against Germany.
Rasmussen, R. Kent. World War I for Kids: A History with 21 Activities. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 124. Print.

National Newspapers

Newspaper Pictorials - Covering the War

*From February 8, 1918 to June 13, 1919, the United States Armed Forces published a paper for troops over seas called The Stars and Stripes.

*During World War I, newspapers used a new printing process called Rotogravure printing which allowed them to reproduce detailed and high quality illustrations. In the collection available from the Library of Congress American Memory, you can trace the progression of American sentiment before and after the United States joined the war.

Home life during the War

*Before American joined WWI, the AUAM (American Union Against Militarism) staged rallies to promote negotiations and peace instead of war.

*In retaliation to the movement, newspapers published cartoons making fun of pacifist such as Jane Addams.


*Hello Girls were telephone operators that kept the communication lines open during the war. They connected soldiers on the front lines with their commanders speaking both English and French so they could easily translate messages from one to the other. 

*During the war, people were asked to cut back on the food they purchased from stores so more of it could go to feed the men fighting overseas. As a result, many people started garden's to grow vegetables. In New York City, the Lawyers Club responded by growing a farm in the city. This invitation was given to recipients to attend a Diner Dance after Thanksgiving to celebrate the harvest.

*Government poster to encourage those at home to save the food they eat and not to waste any.

*One of the most popular songs played during WWI was titled "Over There" composed by Geo. M. Cohan.  President Woodrow Wilson stated "a genuine inspiration to all American manhood." 

*"This song was published during the second year of World War I, before the United States had entered the war, and speaks to the large community of Americans of German descent." - dcc.newberry.org

"Popular World War I songs like this one offered moral support to the troops while, implicitly, showing women how they could contribute to the war effort." - dcc.newberry.org

Time Line of Events
 From the book: Kenney, Karen L. Everything World War I. New York, NY: National Geographic Society, C2014. 10-11. Print.

July 31, 1914: Russia, Serbia's ally, mobilizes its armed forces.

Battles of World War I


*Despite warnings to passengers not to travel over seas, RMS Lusitania left New York on May 1, 1915 to travel to Liverpool. The people on board never made it as a German U-boat torpedoed the ship and killed over 1,100 people on board.


Zimmerman Telegram: this secret note was sent on January 16, 1917 by a German secretary to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German Ambassador to the United States saying if the US joins the war, he should ask Mexico to join sides with Germany.

*One of the reason's America entered the war was because many people thought it would be over quickly. There was a popular saying "Home by Christmas" that was repeated by troops and the loved ones they left behind.

*This is a copy of a draft card given to young men born between 1872-1900. It was required by law to register for the draft. Over 24 million draft cards were issued. 


* Alexander, Mrs. J.H. and Mrs. E.R. Dean. World War Roll of Honor, 1917-1920, Marion County Kansas. Marion, Kansas: 1920

*Female Yeoman troops with rifles ready to serve.

*American troops stationed in France in 1918. African-American soldiers fought in the war and later fought for rights in their own country.

*"The Library of Congress Prints & Photograph Division (P&P) has more than 76,000 pictures relating to World War I, in a wide array of formats, including photographic prints and negatives, cartoons, ephemera, posters and drawings." - http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/wwicoll.html

*The Harlem Hellfighters where considered to be one of the toughest groups to fight in WWI. 

Espionage & Spies
*One of the secrets to winning the war was good espionage. Secret spy tricks such as invisible ink, secret tattoos, engraved toenails, hidden camera, and hollow trees allowed spies to trade secrets. 

From the book: Kenney, Karen L. Everything World War I. New York, NY: National Geographic Society, C2014. 10-11. Print.

Carl Hans Lody: German spy who spoke perfect English but he wasn't a very good spy.

Marthe Richer: French female pilot who becomes a double-agent.

Mata Hari: A dutch dancer accused of being a double agent who liked to be among the rich and famous and lived a racy life.

*Native American Choctaw solders became the Choctaw Code Talkers during the war. Speaking in their native language stumped the German code breakers trying to decode the messages.

*Long before there were drones, homing pigeons were used to fly above and take pictures, deliver messages, and more during World War I.

After the War

* The war ended after the signing of a deal between the Allies and Germany called the armistice agreement on November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m.

*The leaders of the Paris Peace Conference on January 18, 1919. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, President Woodrow Wilson, French Premier Georges Clemenceau, and Premier Vittorio Orlando of Italy. 

*President Woodrow Wilson's notes from his famous speech titled Fourteen Points. The speech to Congress on January 8, 1918 detailed ideas that would form the backbone for the American foreign policy. 

*In Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his family faced upheaval after the war. In July 1918, the entire family was executed by Bolsheviks leading to the election of Vladimir Lenin. This time is referred to as the "February Revolution."


*In March of 1918, officials in Haskell County in Kansas warned the government they had 18 cases of a deadly flu virus. Men, many who were fighting overseas, were increasingly becoming sick from the flu and while many survived, other developed pneumonia. When they returned, many of the infected soldiers spread the disease to civilians. When it was over, more than 50 million people worldwide would be killed by the Influenze Pandemic.

*The financial and emotional cost of WWI was great for many countries around the World. It lead to the fall of four monarchies and the rise of Fascism in Italy and the rising power of the Bolshevik's in Russia.  

*The poem titled In Flander's Field was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae as he sat after watching his close friend die from a mortar shell during WWI.