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Farmer Friend, Ontario County Emergency Farm Labor Application, World War I, c. 1917

Farmer Friend

New York State Archives, NYSA_A0226-78_B3_F3_FarmLabor
Document Description
A form for farmers in Ontario County, Canandaigua area to fill out to request farm labor assistance, c. 1917.
Why are farmers urged not to neglect this information?
Why do you think this poster uses “Farmer Friend” as the title?
How does the use of the words “patriotic emergency” help to recruit volunteers and farmers?
Historical Challenges
How many farmers applied for emergency farm labor during World War I? How many people signed up for the Farm Cadet Program? Was this program successful?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a journal entry from the perspective of a farmer during World War I. Discuss the types of food you are growing for the war effort and the extra labor you have found through the New York State Food Commission.
Art: Design a poster advertising your farm as a great place to help out with the war effort. Be sure to include any benefits a worker at your farm might have over a worker at another farm.
Gilbert, Martin. The First World War. Harper Collins: New York, 1995.
The New York Times. ASKS NEWSPAPERS FOR AID.; Secretary Wilson Urges Them to Help Mobilize Farm, Labor. Mar 22, 1918, Friday Page 20, 480 words Retrieved from:
Wilson, Woodrow. Do Your Bit for America. 15 April 1917 retrieved from:


Historical Context
On April, 15, 1917, just a few weeks after the United States entered World War I, President Wilson addressed the nation. He requested that every American do their part to help the war effort. Specifically, Wilson called upon farmers to use every acre of land to produce extra food for the troops and allies. Wilson offered federal and state programs to provide access to seed, labor, and transportation. This poster issued in Canandaigua informed farmers of the process by which they could request farm labor. 

In addition to volunteering on farms, local residents were also asked to “save food.” Food conservation became a major part of the home fronts contribution to the war. Many communities adopted strategies like “Wheatless Wednesdays” which meant they served meals containing no wheat. The pamphlets, posters, and educational brochures included recipes that used acceptable substitutes and other ways of reducing the consumption of the items in short supply.

Once informed of their patriotic duty, many citizens willingly contributed to the war effort in any way they could find. Posters like this one were important in spreading the word about the different ways local residents could participate in the war effort and how farmers could request help.
Essential Question
How do nation's attempt to satisfy basic economic needs during times of war?
Check for Understanding
Identify the key ideas and explain the purpose of this poster.