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Fay McFadden Employment Inquiry, World War I, April 25, 1918

Employment Inquiry

New York State Archives, NYSA_A4234_B2_F4_Airplane_Factory
Document Description
Fay McFadden inquires about working in an airplane factory, April 25, 1918.
What is Fay McMadden’s current job? Where does he live?
What kind of job is he requesting in this letter?
Why is he seeking this type of employment?
How did he feel about the lack of response to his shipyard application?
Historical Challenges
What other industries and services are linked to a country’s involvement in war? What skills are needed to work in these career fields? What opportunities exist for these skilled workers after a war ends?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a letter to a local business requesting information about employment opportunities with their company.
Technology: What skills are most needed for employment in a shipyard or airplane factory?
The New York Times. “Charge Apathy in Shipyard Drive.” Article Retrieved from:
Gilbert, Martin. The First World War. Harper Collins: New York, 1995.


About this Activity


Lesson Topic:

Historical Context
At the height of the war effort in 1918, four-minute men delivered thousands of speeches at local movie theaters in an effort to recruit workers for U.S. shipyards. In response to these speeches, thousands of men reported to government offices to offer their services. The New York State government, however, was not prepared for the number of workers responding to this request. A New York Times article from February 7, 1918 reported that 1,500 men were turned away from the U.S. Employment Agency which lacked the proper enrollment forms for these men.

William A. Orr, to whom this letter is addressed, was the secretary to Governor Whitman and State Director of the United States Public Service Reserve. He was in charge of coordinating the labor available for the war effort in New York State. In the New York Times article, he defended the state’s handling of the recruits and dismissed most of those turned away as not skilled labor.

Fay McFadden may have been one of the men who, upon hearing a speech by a four-minute man, ran to apply for a job at a shipyard. As a dealer in motorcycles, Mr. McFadden may have possessed the skills necessary to work in a shipyard or other manufacturing facility. He apparently applied for the shipyard position in an attempt to fulfill his patriotic duty and went even further by writing this letter to Mr. Orr requesting an application for an airplane factory position.

Essential Question
How do citizens on the homefront contribute to a war effort?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this letter and explain the intentions of the author in writing the letter.