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Statistics of Ship Production in New York State, Wood Cargo, c. 1917

Particulars Covering Ship Production in New York State
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3166-78_B1_F05_003
Document Description
Particulars covering ship production in New York State including contract ships and wood cargo, World War I, c. 1917.

Ship production statistics for New York State.
How many different types of ships were built for the war?
How many total tons of ships were produced?
Why would the government need ships?
Do you believe this chart reflects a great deal of ship production or just a typical time period? Why?
Historical Challenges
Research and discuss how today’s modern army gets supplied in war zones.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science/Technology: Research and write a report on different propulsion systems that might make shipping more efficient and economical.
Math: Calculate the ratio of the various types of ships to the total tonnage produced in New York.
Cuff, Robert D. The War Industries Board: Business-Government Relations During World War I. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.
Harries, M. & Susie Harries. The Last Days of Innocence: America at War 1917-1918. Random House, 1997.
Kennedy, David. Over Here: The First World War and American Society. Oxford University Press, 1980.
Smith, J. Russell. The Influence of the Great War on Shipping. Oxford University Press, 1919.

About this Activity


Lesson Topic:


Historical Context
Critical to the mobilization of the United States for war was the development and organization of industry. Prior to 1917, private companies were responsible for fulfilling obligations to produce supplies that were exported to the Allies in Europe. After 1917, and with the escalation of German unrestricted submarine warfare, a crisis occurred in shipping. To meet the need for ships, the United States government created a more centralized system of boards and committees that cooperated with private businesses to increase production of ships and to provide the necessary raw materials and resources.

Under the auspices of war time economics, President Wilson expanded the power and scope of committees such as the Shipping Board and the War Industries Board. These organizations used a centralized approach to increase shipping contracts, to funnel appropriate materials to ship building facilities, to increase production standards and quotas, and to create a climate of unprecedented government-industry collaboration.

The result was nothing less than taking a function that was largely non-existent and turning the shipping industry into a viable enterprise that not only produced but transported enormous quantities of goods and troops thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean to support the war effort. Without such a turnaround, the situation in Europe and on the American home front would have been vastly different.

Essential Question
How does war impact domestic industry?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the information contained in the chart and discuss the impact of the war on New York State industry and production.