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


It will not be a pretty day. There will be heavy cloud cover throughout the morning and afternoon. The temperatures will be cooler than yesterday with the high only reaching 72° and a low of 63° tonight. There will almost certainly be rain tonight.

Villanova is holding its commencement exercises today and celebrating the diamond jubilee of the College. The Vice President of the United States, Thomas Marshall, will speak to the graduates and also be awarded with the degree of doctor of jurisprudence. Also for the first time the school will confer degrees upon women. Sister M. Cosmas and Sister M. Dolora will receive the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Both women are of the congregation of the Immaculate Heart.

Historic old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 4th Street and Willings Alley is having a strawberry festival tonight and tomorrow. There will be a number of attractive booths under the auspices of the young women of the parish. For sale at the booths will be candles, candies, flowers, ices, cakes and of course strawberries. The proceeds from the festival will go to various needs for the upkeep of the church. St. Joseph’s, founded in 1733, is the oldest Catholic Church in the city.

Another Philadelphian has given his life for liberty. Corporal William A. Purcell, 20 years old of 253 North 44th Street was killed in action near Soisson on June 3. Corporal Purcell went to France in August 1917 and served with the Princeton Ambulance Unit No. 523. He studied at West Philadelphia High School and at the Bethlehem Preparatory School. Corporal Purcell had recently written his mother saying “The Allies feel safer now since the American boys have arrived and I assure you that as long as an American soldier can raise an arm the Germans shall be kept from Paris.” Also listed on today’s causality report is Private Elmer W. McFee of 3422 North Reese Street who is listed as wounded severely.

Corporal William A. Purcell


Secretary of War Baker announced today that there are now 700,000 American soldiers and marines in France and more are on the way. On the western front in France, the Marines have broken through the German line in Belleau Wood and forced the Huns back 2/3 of a mile. The attack came at 6:00am this morning by the 1st Battalion of the 6th Marines. The Germans poured artillery and machine gun fire as well as gas on the charging Marines but leathernecks kept going. The Germans now hold only the northern fringe of the wood.