100 Years Ago: Two Years Before Armistice Day

I continue my articles about World War I, and what was happening in New Hampshire and the world 100 years ago, with a story about 11 November 1917. Though now we celebrate Veteran’s Day on November 11th, one hundred years ago we did not.

It was not until November 11, 1919 that the first Armistice Day occurred, and Veteran’s Day followed. [Editor’s Note: the Armistice that ended WWI was on November 11, 1918, but it was not until a year later that anyone celebrated an “Armistice Day.”] In fact it was not until 1954 when the 83rd Congress amended the 1938 act that designated Armistice Day as a holiday, changing the word “Armistice” to “Veterans.” President Dwight Eisenhower signed this legislation into law.

Boston Post newspaper article
of November 11, 1917
reporting on “militant suffragists.”
Brookline militant suffragist,
who was arrested when she attempted
to picket the White House yesterday.

One hundred years ago on November 11 1917, the regional newspapers were a mix of local, national, international, and war propaganda news. Only six months previously the United States (in May of 1917) had sent the American Expeditionary Forces (aka AEF) to Europe under General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing as commander. In June of 1917 the first of three draft registrations was performed. General Pershing was insistent that the troops be trained, so very few soldiers were sent to Europe before January of 1918 (by June 1917 only 14,000 U.S. troops were in France). In fact, the first American shell fired toward German lines was on 21 October 1917, not even a month before the date of this newspaper.

The Portsmouth (NH) Herald newspaper on page 7 offered this story: AMERICAN FRONT QUIET. (By Associated Press).  American Front in France, Nov .11. –“Conditions on the American front are normal with the usual artillery action. The infantry had some diversion, when the enemy thought that a raid was coming, opened fire with machine guns and a hail of bullets flew over the trenches. Further down the French spotted four German cutting wires and captured them. General Pershing said that troops and supplies are steadily increasing in number and thanks to the protection of the navies of the American, English and French, the submarines have not taken the life of an American soldier on the transports.”

The Boston Sunday Post of November 11, 1917’s page 1 included these as the major headlines:
British Join Italian Army
Gunman Tries to Kill Mrs. Slater
Mrs. Wilson “Adopts” Ten (soldiers by subscribing to the war camp recreation fund)
Name 22 for Signal Corps.
Brazil Drafts Men for Army

The article that I found the most interesting had this headline: MORE SUFF MILITANTS ARRESTED. 41 Resume Picketing — Boston Women Are Taken.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10–Mrs. Agnes H. Morey of Brookline and Miss L. Daniels of Boston, militants of the women’s party, were promptly arrested late today, together with 39 other suffragists, when they attempted to resume picketing operations in front of the White House.
— Three other Massachusetts women were among the 41 banner bearers seized by the police and hustled off to jail, Mrs. William Bergen of Worcester, Miss Ella Findelsen of Lawrence and Miss Cornelia Whitcomb of Worcester.
Seven of the militant suffragists are now serving sentences in jail for picketing the White House and the women arrested today are threatened with the same fate. Among the number arrested today were Mrs. Harvey W. Wiley, wife of the pure food expert; Mrs. William Kent, wife of former Representative Kent of California, now a member of the Tariff Commission and Miss Lucy Burns, vice-chairman of the Woman’s party.
— All the women, who represented 14 States, were bailed out by Miss Mary Ingham of Philadelphia, for appearance in Police Court Monday morning.
— Those arrested today were: From 14 States
New York–Miss Marian Tilden Burritt, Mrs. John Winters Brannan, Miss Belle Sheinberg, Miss L.H. Hornsby, Miss Paula Jacobi, Mrs. Cynthia Cohen, Miss Dorothy Day, Mrs. Henry Butterworth, Miss Cora Week, Mrs. P.B. Johns, Miss Elizabeth Hamilton and Mrs. Ella Guilford, all of New York city, and Miss Amy Juengling and Miss Hattie Kruger of Buffalo.
MassachusettsMrs. Agnes H. Morey, Brookline. Miss L. Daniels, Boston; Mrs. William Bergen, Worcester; Miss Ella Findelsen, Lawrence; Miss Cornelia Whitcomb, Worcester.
New Jersey–Mrs. George Scott, Montclair.
Pennsylvania–Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Miss Elizabeth McShane and Miss Catharine Lincoln, all of Philadelphia.
California–Mrs. William Kent, Kentfield.
Utah–Mrs. R.D. Quay and Mrs. C.T. Roberts, Salt Lake City.
Oregon–Miss Alice Gram and Miss Betty Gram, Portland.
Colorado–Mrs. Eva Decker, Colorado Springs; Mrs. Genevieve Williams, Manitou.
Indiana–Mrs. Charles W. Barnes, Indianapolis.
Minnesota–Mrs. J.H. Short, Minneapolis
Oklahoma–Mrs. Kate Stafford, Oklahoma City.
Iowa–Mrs. A.N. Belm, Des Moines; Mrs. Catherine Marlinette, Eagle Grove.
District of Columbia–Mrs. Harvey Wiley, Miss Lucy Burns.
Maryland–Mrs. Mary Bartlett Dixon, Easton; Miss Julia Emory, Baltimore
Louisiana–Mrs. Alice Cosu, New Orleans.
Florida–Mrs. Mary A. Nolan, Jacksonville.

As I continued to turn the pages of the Boston Post and The Portsmouth Herald, the stories were a mix of “life as usual” and a focus on changing American lifestyles. As much as the War created a fertile field for suffragist activity, it also created a unique need for new technology, new foodstuffs, new music, and new behaviors.

Advertisement for the City Glenwood Kitchen
Stove, from Boston Post of 11 November 1917.
“Suitable for use in kitchens where the only heat
available comes from the kitchen stove. Cooking
is done entirely with gas. Heating of Kitchen and
of Hot Water is from the use of
coal, coke or wood.”

More headlines from the newspapers:
–SHIP SUNK BY U-BOAT TWO MILES AWAY–Rochester (an American Steamer) Torpedoed Then Shelled by Submarine
–New Wings for Aero Squadron: British, French and German Inventions Studied to Produce American War Plane
–Article about the motorcycle’s popular use in Europe
–City Glenwood: Something Entirely New–A Four Season Range (kitchen stove) see advertising.
— Workers on Ships Exempted. Must, However, Keep at Work to Avoid Being Drafted
— Columbia Records had an advertisement for music “Its a Long Way to Berlin.”

November 11 1917 edition of The Boston
Post published an advertisement for
Columbia Records song, “Its a Long
Way to Berlin


The Portsmouth Herald of the following day, Monday November 12, 1917 offered these headlines:

— German Forces Fail to Encircle Italian Troops
— President Urges Co-operation of Labor Unions
— Ex-Queen Liliʻuokalani of Hawaii died this morning. [meaning November 11th]
— Next Draft in February (of 1918)
— No More Wedding Cake in England [due to wheat rationing].

In both newspapers there were articles about the need to conserve food, on society women helping to raise funds for “the boys,” about the Y.M.C.A. and other local organizations who were gearing up to help here and abroad.


[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I.  Look here for the entire listing].


Ten Essential Tasks for U.S. Genealogists on Veterans Day (November 2016)

New Hampshire’s Veterans Day and Its Heroes (11 November 2014)


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6 Responses to 100 Years Ago: Two Years Before Armistice Day

  1. Amy says:

    I read something in the NYTimes yesterday about the big suffragette march in NYC 100 years ago. And it struck me as ironic how today a century later women are finally feeling safe enough to come out and reveal the ways they were abused and harassed by men. We’ve made progress, but oh so slowly.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Women have been voting long enough now that this generation isn’t even aware of how hard their moms, grands and great-grands fought for the right to do it. I grew up being reminded by my gram about how what an important right it is, and by my mom who voted opposite what my dad did usually. They’d joke about that as they went to the voting place. And yes, we have come a little way, but not enough. When women give up their rights, or allow men to take the rights away from other women, we all lose.

  2. kms01906 says:

    Thanks! Great story. I see Miss Dorothy Day of New York was arrested. , Currently being considered for canonization in the Catholic Church!

    • Janice Brown says:

      Neat! I didn’t know about Dorothy Day, but I did want to include this story because it was important headline news during WWI, even though most of the newspapers disparaged the suffragists.

  3. Pingback: New Hampshire World War I Military: Heroes of The Great War | Cow Hampshire

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