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Tag: woodrow wilson

Now on display: A letter from a mother

Today’s blog post comes from curator Alice Kamps. This featured document will be on display from May 9 to May 21.

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May a holiday for the “public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

To commemorate the centennial of the first national observance of Mother’s Day, this exhibit at the National Archives displays just one of hundreds of thousands of letters written by mothers seeking advice from the Children’s Bureau, a Federal Government office established in 1912 to promote the well-being of mothers and their children.

Even 100 years ago, these letter writers wondered: Is it possible to balance the demands of work and motherhood?

With three children under the age of four, and without “conveniences and modern utilities,” Mrs. Neil Williams was at the end of her rope. If anyone could help her, surely it was Julia Lathrop, Director of the Children’s Bureau.

In heartfelt language, Mrs. Williams wrote to Ms. Lathrop in 1920 to ask how to manage “all these scientific and hygienic duties for babies,” keep up with housework, and love and nurture her children. “I love them until it hurts,” she explained, “and know that, when they are out of their babyhood, I can never forgive myself for not making more … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pull out that sweet tooth!

This poster, created by the U.S. Food Administration, reminded citizens that their consumption of sugar drew resources away from the war (ARC 512526, ca. 1917-ca. 1919).

To celebrate our new exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” we are featuring a food-related blog post every Wednesday. Today’s post comes to us from the National Archives at New York City.

“Do you know that the money spent in the United States for candy in one year is double the amount required to feed Belgium for one year?” This statement is not from a modern anti-obesity polemic, but rather from the World War I pamphlet A Sugar Program: Household Conservation Policy to Meet the Sugar Situation for the Summer of 1918.

Why was there a sugar situation? When the United States entered World War I, ships were needed to transport soldiers and supplies across the ocean. Since much of the U.S. supply of sugar was imported, the war interrupted the supply chain of sugar.

Ships crossing over to the United Kingdom with supplies also faced the dreaded German U-boats, which sank large numbers of the Allied merchant fleet when Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917. This danger threatened to worsen the Allied food situation in Europe, which was already severe. The woman in the poster above is literally draining away resources that the Allies need to win the war.

To inform U.S. citizens on … [ Read all ]

The “Wilsonian” Path to War

wilson

President Woodrow Wilson (111-SC-4984; ARC 530713)

President Woodrow Wilson’s campaign slogan throughout his 1916 reelection campaign was “he kept us out of war,” but on April 2, 1917, Wilson reversed course and called on Congress to provide a declaration of war for American intervention in World War I. Although this shift in policy contradicted Wilson’s isolationist principles and firm commitment to American neutrality, the Central Powers had begun to pose a clear and formidable threat to the United States by 1917.

Americans felt the brutal impact of the war even during Wilson’s first term. On May 7, 1915, while engaged in submarine warfare, a German U-boat sank the RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner carrying American citizens. The death toll included 114 Americans. Following the sinking, the United States increased its various modes of aid and assistance to the Allies. But Wilson still publicly discouraged anti-German rhetoric in the U.S. and held out hope that he could mediate a resolution to the conflict between the Allies and the Central Powers.

Wilson’s vision of the war began to change by the winter of 1917, when the British government intercepted a telegram sent by German Foreign Minister Author Zimmerman to Germany’s ambassador in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. The telegram was a proposal to Mexico asking the nation to ally with Germany and to attack the United States … [ Read all ]

A funny thing happened on the way to the Revolutionary War

"Betsy Ross making the first flag, 1776 [according to legend]" Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer
“Betsy Ross making the first flag, 1776 (according to legend)”

(111-SC-92968)

On New Year’s day in 1776, Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army were laying siege to the British-controlled city of Boston. From Prospect Hill, General Washington ordered the Grand Union flag hoisted “in compliment of the United Colonies,” accidentally ending the Revolutionary War.

Or so the British thought.

In Boston, a speech by King George that offered favorable terms of surrender for the colonialists was making the rounds. Loyalists in the besieged city were elated when they saw what looked like the Union Jack flying above General Washington’s encampment at Prospect Hill, taking it as a sign that the Continental forces has accepted the terms and were calling it quits.

Washington remarked on the event in a letter to Joseph Reed on January 4: “By this time, I presume, they begin to think it strange we have not made formal surrender of the lines.”

That the Grand Union flag was so easily mistaken for the British Union Jack made it clear that, certainly, the 13 colonies had a flag problem.

Thankfully, on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress took up the problem and declared “that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” … [ Read all ]