Clifford Berryman Cartoons

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One hundred years ago, Americans began to prepare for what joining the conflict in Europe would mean for them. After President declared war, people began to talk about conscription to build up the military, wartime budgeting, and loans for the war effort. It meant a summer of change, or at least anxiety, as troops prepared to enter the fray.

Washington, DC became a center of activity to support the war effort. Not only did the public have front row seats to the legislation and organization going on in government, but many of them also began preparing to take part on a personal level through joining the armed services, volunteering, buying bonds, or just tightening their belts. A great record of these days can be found in the cartoons of Clifford Berryman at the Washington Evening Star. Many of his images were printed on the front page of the newspaper during the war years. These cartoons showcase political conflicts of the day, but also other concerns of his readers, such as the wages of government clerks, victory gardens, local baseball games, and the weather. You can see many digital copies of his original sketches from the National Archives in the Clifford Berryman Cartoons here at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum.

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Wartime Washington

After the declaration of war, it took awhile for the United States to get the military and the economy geared up for the international conflict.

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Eleanor Randolph Wilson McAdoo

As we can see from this letter from Nell McAdoo to her sister, Washington first knew the war by the flurry of foreign visitors who were eager to get American help. Nell, Woodrow Wilson’s daughter, who was very familiar with affairs of state wrote on April 26, 1917: “To-night we go to the White House to meet Viviani and General Joffre and the French commission, and I am very much thrilled at the thought. It is all tremendously thrilling—having the English and French here—and meeting and talking to them, for it makes me feel as if we really were active partners with them in the great cause.”

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Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre

 

Women’s Work in Wartime

Just as they did famously during World War Two, American women took on more types of work during the Great War than most of them could find during times of peace. The country organized for the production of huge amounts of weapons and supplies, using as much labor as possible, while the conscription of men left many of their regular jobs short of workers. So, women had chances at new opportunities in the labor market. Many of these wartime jobs were not well-paid or particularly easy. They did, however, provide the opportunity for new experiences and better incomes. Continue reading