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. We will also recount the events occurring in the war on that day. So, check back each day for new editions.

To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com


A light, lovely snow fell on the city this morning (shown below) but no accumulation was noted. Snow flurries and in some areas rain will continue through this evening. The high will be about 39° with the low around 25°.

12-8-1915 Snow

Yesterday in Washington D.C., President Wilson delivered his annual message to Congress. Due to the importance and gravity of the issues addressed by Mr. Wilson, we present here a summary of the most salient points of the President’s speech.

Mr. Wilson began by restating that this country has remained studiously neutral in the present world conflict and of our sincere desire to maintain cordial relations with all nations including those presently at war. He also spoke of the community of nations in this hemisphere and how these states must remain free of European influence and act as partners for the mutual benefit of North, South and Central America. The President also asked congress to take immediate action on his administration’s proposed increases in the Army, Navy and Merchant Marine so that the defense of this Nation is not imperiled.

It was toward the end of Mr. Wilson’s speech that the President took the opportunity to forcefully denounce those he called “hyphenated Americans.” His remarks were delivered with vigor and the vehemence of his words shocked many in the chamber. Mr. Wilson said the gravest threats to our peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. This, he said, is done by citizens of this country who though born under foreign flags were welcomed under our generous immigration laws. These individuals have “poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life.” Mr. Wilson continued saying, these people have sought to destroy our industries and debase our politics to the “uses of foreign intrigue.”

The President said America has never witnessed anything like this before and that we should promptly use the law to purge ourselves of their “corrupt distempers.” Mr. Wilson said it is almost inconceivable that these people would turn in “malign reaction against the government and people who had welcomed and nurtured them.” And because it seemed so incredible America has not prepared for such a possibility. But now that it has come Federal Law must be changed to deal with it.

The President asked the Congress to enact such laws so that “Such creatures of passion, disloyalty and anarchy must be crushed out…they are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them at once. They have formed plots to destroy property; they have entered into conspiracies against the neutrality of the Government…in order to serve interests alien to our own”.

In conclusion the President said “We serve a great nation. We should serve it in the spirit of its peculiar genius. It is the genius of common men for self-government, industry, justice, liberty and peace. We should see to it that it lacks no instrument, no facility or vigor of law to make it sufficient to play its part with energy, safety and assured success. In this we are no partisans, but heralds and prophets of a new age.”