On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – FRIDAY JUNE 22, 1917
Under bright blue skies and temperatures in the 80s, Philadelphians in the center city business district were treated to a great patriotic scene today. The women of the Red Cross of Philadelphia and vicinity held a grand parade as part of this week’s appeal for donations. Over 5000 women marched from Broad & Spring Garden to Broad & Walnut Streets.
The parade started at Noon as 8 women heralds mounted on beautiful black horses led the various groups. They were followed by the mothers division composed of women whose sons serve in the military. These ladies were accompanied by an honor guard of 400 marines and sailors from the Navy Yard. Next in line were the ambulance units and the nurses. Finally, each local chapter from the surrounding areas of south eastern Pennsylvania was represented (shown below). Upon reaching Walnut Street the women counter-marched back to the north plaza of City Hall where a mass meeting was held.
Several speakers, including Mayor Smith and Mr. Edward T. Stotesbury appealed to the assembled crowd for contributions. Mr. Stotesbury also read a letter from President Wilson congratulating and thanking the local chapters for all their hard work and asking Philadelphians to contribute generously to their efforts. These women truly represent the American way. There is no notice or distinction among them as to social class or wealth. All march and work as equals to support of our fighting men and our Country. Police estimate that the crowd on Broad Street and at City Hall exceeded 150,000 people.
In national news, Ford Motor Company has announced it will donate $500,000.00 worth of ambulances to the Red Cross. And the General Motors Corporation has donated $250,000.00 in cash to the Red Cross. In other news, the War Department announced that artists, actors and authors are all subject to the draft. The Department stated that individuals in those professions are no different than the other 9,500,000 men subject to the selective service lottery. The only exemptions from service will be for those employed in positions considered indispensable to the maintenance of a military organization or to the national interest. The decision came as a result of an inquiry from an “artists’ colony” in a part of New York City called Greenwich Village.
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