I hope everyone’s holiday season is going well.
There was no slowing down in late 1917: that Christmas was the first after the United States officially joined in the fight. Prolific artist L.N. Britton produced this poster for the American Red Cross’s nationwide holiday membership campaign. The drive to reach 10,000,000 new members officially began on December 17th. New York City’s quota in that was set at a cool 500,000. Tammany Hall–still going strong nearly two decades into the twentieth century–boosted Red Cross membership in Manhattan by sending almost 9,000 of its own canvassing door-to-door. The initiative for new members proceeded smoothly enough, though on December 18th Red Cross officials in Washington D.C. called off the request for a Christmas Eve candle in every window; the National Board of Fire Underwriters convinced Red Cross leaders that such displays would be a safety hazard. Service flags, and in many cases electric lights, did go out on many windowsills as planned.
The Red Cross hit its 10,000,000 goal by Christmas, and with a week’s extension doubled that number by year’s end. Ironically, in some predominantly German-American regions such as Brenham, Texas it was vigilantism and threats of violence that put local quotas over the top. History is complicated.
Enjoy the day, everyone.
(image/Pennsylvania State University Libraries)