Clark County in the Great War: How Local Industry Supported the War

By Sherri Goudy

“War, huh, yeah – what is it good for, absolutely nothing…” Though the lyrics often get stuck in my head (thanks Jacki Chan), war has both positive and negative effects on our world.  The bad includes death, famine, destruction, displacement of people, spread of disease, and any number of social and psychological problems.  But, war can also create opportunity and change that can be evaluated as a positive outcome.

As we have discussed in previous posts, WWI created jobs, helped women become accepted in the workplace and military, and became a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.  These are clearly positive developments amidst the tragedy of war.  In this post, I want us to explore the local contribution to the war in Clark County, Ohio and some of the industries which saw an increase in demand during the Great War.

One of the most obvious contributions to the war was the increase in manufacturing of military necessities.  From tanks and planes to guns and ammunition, factories across the United States evolved their product lines to produce for the war.  In April 1918, the Springfield Daily News published this article and photo of the “First tank over here… to join forces over there.”

Photo 1 April 29 1918 pg 7 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-19 AM - p1 (002)

In Springfield, this article from April 14, 1918 talks about the “Eleven Gun Boring Machines” made locally at the Springfield Machine Tool plant.

Photo 2 April 4 1918 of 14 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-09 AM - p1 (002)

An industry that some may not consider when thinking about the war effort is the production of musical instruments.  The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company located at 20 S Fountain Street in Springfield prided itself on manufacturing bugles, fifes, and drums.  This ad proudly states “Our Boys in France are Using the Wurlitzer Bugle, Fife and Drum. For over 55 years our bugles have been used in the United States Army and Navy. Today our boys in France and thousands of home guards in our own country are responding to the call of the Wurlitzer bugle.”

Photo 3 April 21 1918 pg 4 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-12 AM - p1 (002)

The rise of the housing market was also a huge industrial advancement because of the war.  In Springfield, there was expected to be a boom in prosperity as a result of the diverse industries and postwar prosperity.

Photo 4 May 5 1918 pg 7 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-28 AM - p1 (002)

In my last post, we discussed Liberty Bonds and how each local citizen could support the war and contribute by lending a portion of their income to the Government.  This Real Estate ad from April 20, 1918 starts off by telling the reader that their first obligation is to “Stand by the Flag – Buy Liberty Bonds.”  Their second obligation is “to plant a garden and raise food for your family” when you buy a parcel of land in Northern Heights.

Photo 5 May 5 1918 pg 19 SDN - Apr 20 2018 - 10-44 AM - p1 (002)

The industries that prospered during the war did in fact create opportunity for prosperity. Although World War 1 brought about huge negative effects and loss of life, there is no denying that industry boomed and the American economy was permanently transformed as a result.

What do you think? Please share your feedback by contributing your comments, and as always let us know what you want to read about next!




Liberty Loans and War Savings Stamps: How Every Clark County Citizen Could “Do Their Bit” During WWI

By Sherri Goudy

During WWI, the US Treasury Department headed by William Gibbs McAdoo spearheaded a campaign to enlist every American regardless of age, gender, or social status into the war effort.  The war was proving to be an expensive endeavor, estimated at a cost of $32 Billion.  As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the US had already shown their patriotism in conserving valuable resources in short supply and much demand.  So, if a nation was already barely making ends meet, how do its citizens contribute $21.5 Billion to the war effort?  The answer = war bonds.

In 1917, the plan to pay for the ever-increasing bill for the war was through a mix of taxation and borrowing from the American people.  Though some prominent economists said the war should have been completely financed through taxation, McAdoo was not on board with this plan mainly because there was no way to know how much the war would cost.  His plan was to create a “Liberty Loan” system in which the American people would be educated about bonds, how they would contribute to the war effort, and the importance of saving money.  He also wanted to appeal to patriotism through one of the most ambitious advertising campaigns ever conducted.  Lastly, his entire effort would rely on volunteer labor to avoid further debt.

The Liberty Loan campaign was first launched in April 1917, with 3 more campaigns in the fall of 1917, April 1918, and the last in October 1918. The first campaign promised a 3.5% rate of return, and the rate increased with each subsequent campaign. The loans were sold at various denominations, but the lowest was $50.

In order to make them accessible to families and even children who could not afford them at that cost, an installment plan was available.  People could buy War Thrift Stamps at a rate on 25 cents.

Photo 1 Feb 10 1918 pg 13

Also referred to as “little baby bonds,” after 16 were collected, they could be affixed to a special card and either redeemed after 1923 for $5.00, or exchanged for a War Savings Stamp, which was also worth $5.00.  Likewise, once 10 War Savings Stamps were collected, they could be exchanged for the $50 Liberty Bond.  This ad in the Springfield Daily News shows what the Thrift Cards looked like.

Photo 2 Jan 3 1918 pg 7

Each of the campaigns as well as Thrift Stamp drives relied on various ways to advertise.  Billboards, propaganda posters, and newspaper ads were the most common.  The following series of ads from the Springfield Daily News use a variety of methods to appeal to the people of Clark County to contribute by purchasing Stamps or Bonds.

This ad states that everyone in Clark County should buy either bonds or savings stamps, and the image depicts that while “Liberty Loans” were the “big guns” of the campaign, thrift stamps are just as important and can even be thought of as the foundation of the effort.

Photo 3 April 21 1918 pg 7

This ad from January 8, 1918 states “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” and declares that “If we are to win the war, WE MUST WIN IT AS A UNITED PEOPLE… WAR SAVERS ARE LIFE SAVERS.”

Photo 4 Jan 8 1918 pg 4

In February 1918, this ad was published: “An Idle Dollar is a Slacker Dollar, but a Dollar Wasted in War Times is a Traitor Dollar.” Slackers referred mainly to draft dodgers.

Photo 5 Feb 26 1918 pg 8

In March 1918, the story broke of a Springfield boy, Hiram Taylor, who was killed overseas. This is just one of a few different ads which demanded that Clark County “prove their patriotism” and not let Taylor’s death have been in vain.

Photo 6 March 4 1918 pg 7

“Wise Patriotism” was the headline for this April 1918 ad which stated that “without patriotism life is an empty meaningless waste.”

Photo 7 April 12 1918 pg 13

Fear of losing the war and the death and destruction at the hands of the enemy on American soil were the tactics used in this ad from April 1918.  The ad says, “if America and her allies fail it is just as certain as day follows night that America will be invaded and her homes laid in ruins.”

Photo 8 April 8 1918 pg 7

Mothers were making sacrifices by “giving their sons” to the war, so the least the rest of us can do is “lend our money.”

Photo 9 April 10 1918 pg 15

Appealing to the anniversary of entering the war, this ad appeals to those who should commemorate America’s entry “to uphold civilization and to make the world safe for democracy.”

Photo 10 April 6 1918 pg 5

This ad appeals to the religious majority in Clark County, to go to church and “pray for victory” then “but at least one $50 Liberty Bond.”

Photo 11 April 20 1918 pg 2

This ad makes its appeal to the immigrant communities in Clark county by urging them to “invest your money in liberty bonds” and are absolutely a “safe” investment “because they are guaranteed by the richest nation in the world.”

Photo 12 April 14 1918 pg 11 (2)

The Us wasn’t the only nation in the war using war bonds to finance their efforts.  This ad from April 22, 1918 gives the results of the German campaign and asks its citizens “Are you as patriotic as the Germans? Are you worthy of liberty? Buy Liberty Bonds – They are the price of Freedom.”

Photo 13 April 22 1918 pg 5

The use of political cartoons were also popular ways to encourage Springfield Citizens to do their bit.  This cartoon printed in the Springfield Daily News April 8, 1918 says, “If you can’t fight, help a fighter fight – Buy Liberty Bonds.”

Photo 14 April 8 1918 pg 6

The campaigns also relied on children to sell and buy savings stamps, using the boy scouts, ads geared specifically towards kids, and even a contest for a local child to see their picture in the paper and come to the newspaper office to receive a prize of 4 thrift stamps.

Photo 15 Feb 13 19189 pg 10

Photo 16 April 28 1918 Sports pg 14

Women of Springfield contributed greatly to fundraising and war bond efforts.  This list of signatures includes 50 women who contributed funds to the Clark County War Savings Committee was published in the Springfield Daily News with the headline “Women of Clark County Have Again Shown their Patriotism by Financing War Saving Campaign.”

Photo 17 April 28 1918 pg 2

This ad published on the last day of the 3rd Liberty Loan Campaign urges everyone to buy a war bond, with the assistance of an installment plan that even “President Wilson is Using.”

Photo 18 May 4 1918 pg 5 (2)

In total, the US government would borrow $17 Billion ($275 Billion in 2017 dollars) from all 4 of the Liberty Loan drives, and another $8.8 Billion in taxes.  Over 20 million individuals had bought war bonds, which was impressive considering that the US only had about 24 million households at the time.

Let us know what you think about this post in the comments below!  We want to know what you want to read about next, so send us your ideas for our next blog post about Clark County during the Great War.