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World War I

What Was the American Homefront Like During WWI?

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"A Soldier's Dream"

      World war was at the time the most devastating war the world had ever seen.  It was ‘the war to end all wars”.  Countless young men’s lives were sacrificed in the name of freedom and democracy, and countless more deployed into the war, and experienced the horrors first hand.  With nearly all able, working men serving overseas in the war, women undertook the task of managing the war effort at home, and also providing for their families.  African-Americans as well worked to manage the war effort, and provide for themselves and families.  The home front became a nation of working women and African –Americans, who not only worked in factories to produce goods needed for the war, but also cared for the sick and wounded men from the war, recruited men and also supported to war with bonds and boycotts.

            After America entered into the war in Europe, thousands of men were deployed overseas, and a great portion of that number was killed.  With so many casualties and many more men serving abroad, the brunt of the production in factories were left to the women and African-Americans left in the U.S.   Women, who had once only contemplated staying home to manage their house and families, were now working in all types of factories.  From the production of ammunition and military products to household goods, about one million women worked long hours in factories fulfilling the jobs usually held for men only.  Women working in factories not only supported the war effort by providing materials for the military and American citizens, but also allotted for the independence of women.  Finally, the majority of women in the U.S. were working and making their own wages in order to support their families.  Due to the strength and independence women displayed during the war years, women gained more respect from politicians, and once the war was over women’s suffrage was almost immediately granted (“Women’s Contribution to the War” 1).  “We have made partners of the women in this war; shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnerships of privilege and right?” (Woodrow Wilson).  Not only were women working jobs in factories that had only been reserved for white males, but also African-Americans migrated from the rural south to the urban north, and began to undertake the jobs left by men serving in the armed forces.  Many more African-Americans held jobs during the war years than ever before, and they too helped with the war effort by producing goods for both the military and the home front.

            Not only did women work in factories supporting the military aboard and home front, but also many upper class women, who did not need to work for money to support a home, joined organizations that cared for wounded soldiers, and also the victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic.  One of these organizations included the American Red Cross, which was instrumental during America’s time of need.   Some women worked abroad with the Red Cross while others stayed at home supplying the organization.  Many women worked as nurses in the Red Cross performing duties such as rolling bandages, knitting socks, and working in military hospitals taking care of wounded soldiers (“Women’s Contribution to the War” 1).  Women also organized clubs and canteens for soldiers on leave, as well as drove ambulances across battlefields (1).  Women also helped with the recruitment of men in America by encouraging other women to outcast any man who had not joined the war. 

The war had a heavy impact on America’s economics and culture.  Liberty bonds became one of the most common ways to support the American war effort, and everyone bought liberty bonds to support the war, but also for the economic promise they offered.  American women also observed days for boycotting a certain food or material.  National “wheat less” or “sweet less” days were used as a way to conserve food during the war.  The Lever Act also persuaded Americans to conserve food for soldiers abroad (“What was the American home front like during World War 1?” 1).  Women created “war gardens” that produced extra fruits and vegetables, which were rare for the lack of labor on farms (1).  Prohibition restricted the sale of grain supplies, and the eighteenth amendment also banned consumption of alcohol (1).   Women on the home front obliged all of these efforts and restrictions for the sole purpose of supporting American in the war.

 Truly, World War I was very devastating to all nations in involved, and the home front of the nations had to substitute for all the men serving in the military or killed in action.  However, in America the majority of the war effort on the home front was conducted by women forced to provide for their families while their men were at war.  Other women joined the effort just to help the Americans in the war.  American women and African-Americans fulfilled factory jobs that supplied the armed forces and households in the U.S., and women served as nurses and recruiters for the military.
Women back on the home front also bought Liberty bonds, and observed days for conserving food, as well as abiding by numerous laws, which aided the war effort.  The support of all the hard working people on the home front during World War I enabled America and the Allied forces to win the “Great War”, and end the violence, death, and despair, which had scourged the world in the early twentieth century.

 

Works Cited

“Factory Workers”.  Women in World War One.  2 pages.  Online.  Internet.  May 28, 2006.  Available at http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/women_in_world_war_one.html.

“Women’s Contribution to the War”.  Women in World War One.  2 pages.  Online.  Internet.  May 28, 2006.  Available at http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/women_in_world_war_one.html.

What was the American home front like during World War 1?”.  World War One.  1 page.  Online.  Internet.  May 28, 2006.  Available at http://www.faqfarm.com/Q/FAQ/1822

 

 

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AP US History 2006