You are here

"New York State Boys' Working Reserve" Pamphlet, World War I, March 1918

New York State Boys' Working Reserve

New York State Archives, NYSA_A0226-78_B2_F5_BoysReserve
Document Description
New York State Food Commission's "New York State Boys' Working Reserve" pamphlet about the Boys' Reserve work program. The pamphlet was used to recruit males between the ages of 16-21 to work on farms during World War I, March 1918.
List the categories of boys available for work under this program. Why did the state specifically list these categories? Explain your answer.
Based on the testimonials printed in the pamphlet, how did the cadets, farmers, and families feel about this program? Do you think everyone felt this way about the program? Explain your answer.
List the different audiences that the pamphlet addresses. How does the author of the pamphlet try to persuade the readers to support the program? Provide textual evidence to support your answer.
How do you think 16 to 21-year-olds responded to the call for their services? How do you think the same age group would respond today? Explain your answer.
How might the current state and federal government utilize the youth population to help solve a national problem? How do you think students would respond to the request?
How did the Farm Cadet Program benefit the New York State Food Commission? Explain your answer.
Historical Challenges
How did New York State regulate child labor in the early 20th century? What jobs were children permitted to do? Did the state set restrictions on the number hours children could work? For the purpose of labor, at what age was an individual considered an adult? How did these rules or lack of rules relate to the Farm Cadet Program?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Draw an illustration for the front of this pamphlet.
English Language Arts: Write a paragraph describing your fictional experience as a farm cadet to be included in the updated New York State Boys’ Working Reserve Pamphlet.
Science: What technological advances existed in the early 20th century that increased the production of farms? What farm jobs still had to be done without the aid of technology? How did these conditions affect the lives of farm cadets?
Gilbert, Martin. The First World War. Harper Collins: New York, 1995.
New York Times article. ASKS NEWSPAPERS FOR AID.; Secretary Wilson Urges Them to Help Mobilize Farm, Labor. Mar 22, 1918, Friday Page 20, 480 words


Historical Context
The presence of over four million American soldiers in Europe meant the absence of those same individuals from the American workforce. Certain areas of the country noticed a significant decline in the number of active farms due to the absent farm labor. State officials feared that if too many farms became inactive during the war a severe food shortage would follow. New York State attempted to solve the issue of a labor shortage by enacting several programs which recruited workers and students into farm labor.
The Farm Cadet Program, also called the New York State Boys’ Working Reserve, allowed high school students to enroll as farm laborers. Farm Cadets could work on their own family farms or be placed on another farm in the state. The state required each farm cadet to submit an essay at the end of their service documenting their activities and the ways in which they contributed to the war effort. Although not old enough to fight on the battlefield, these individuals could provide the labor necessary to maximize food production for both the local communities and the world. Both the federal Food Administration and the state Food Commission promoted the idea that contributing to the production of food was both a public duty and a patriotic act. 
Essential Question
How do nations attempt to satisfy their basic economic needs during times of war?
Check for Understanding
Describe the plan laid out in this document, explain the issue this plan addresses, and evaluate the effectiveness of the plan.