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Cortland's 8th Grade Students Sell Thrift Stamps to Support the War Effort, c. 1917

Eighth Grade.  Sold Thrift Stamps Amounting to $1098.25

New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B33_F14_Cortland_8th
Document Description
A group of eighth-graders sold Thrift Stamps for the war effort, Cortland, New York, c. 1917.
Who was most likely to purchase Thrift Stamps and War Savings Stamps?
How do you think selling and buying Thrift Stamps encourage patriotism?
Why did the government make such an effort to allow the lower economic classes to contribute to financing the war?
How do you think the students in this photo felt about their contribution to the war effort?
Where does your country currently have troops involved in conflicts? How could you help with these efforts?
Historical Challenges
What were some of the financial costs of World War I? Besides financial, what are some other costs associated with war?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: If thrift stamps cost $.25, how much did 16 stamps cost? If you exchanged your War Savings Certificate for 5 dollars in 1923, how much of a profit did you make on your investment? What was the percentage of your profit?
English Language Arts: Write a letter to a relative requesting that they purchase war stamps from you. Explain why you are selling the stamps and give two reasons why they should purchase War Saving Stamps from you.
Art: Design your own advertisement to sell Thrift Stamps.
Kennedy, David. Over Here: The First World War and American Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Monaghan, M.V. Uncle Sam’s Shelf IN Primary Education: A Monthly Journal for Primary Teachers. Vol. XXVI No. 1, p. 17, January 1918.
Wynn, Neil A. From Progressivism to Prosperity: World War I and American Society. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1986.


Historical Context
During World War I, the government relied heavily on war bonds to finance the war. However, many Americans could not afford even the cheapest war bond which cost 50 dollars. War bonds funded $21 million of the $33 million cost of the war. The Treasury Department began issuing Thrift Stamps and War Savings Stamps to bring in more money and allow those who could not afford to buy war bonds to contribute to the war effort.
Each stamp cost 25-cents and 16 stamps could be exchanged for a War Savings Certificate. These certificates were insured against loss and could be sold back to the post office with ten days written notice. War Savings Certificates accumulated 4 percent interest compounded quarterly and the investor did not pay taxes on the profit. If the purchaser chose to hold on to the certificate until January 1, 1923, the certificate would be considered mature and could be sold back to the government for 5 dollars. The Thrift Stamps raised $1 billion for the war effort.

School teachers brought this fund-raising effort to their students in an effort to encourage patriotism and teach the importance of saving. 
Essential Question
How do children exercise their civic participation and support their country?
Check for Understanding
Describe how these children felt about their civic participation using evidence from the photograph.