Suggestions for Work in War Time, May 1917


Suggestions for Work in War Time


The Chicago Branch of the Woman's Peace Party

Conservation of Food and Increase of Food Supplies.

Economists state that there is an actual shortage at present in the food supply of the world, the inevitable result of withdrawing millions of workers from productive labor to serve at the front and of employing millions of others in the manufacture of munitions, which being exploded leave nothing of actual value.

We urge the importance of economy in food supplies and of efforts to increase production.

We recommend [cooperation] in the following ways:

  1. By the observance of rational economy in the use of food and by organizing groups of women for the study of food economy,
  2. By the cultivation of land available for that purpose and by helping to organize groups of children to plant gardens and to raise chickens, rabbits, pigeons, etc.

A course of lectures on economy in the use of food supplies will be given each week at Hull-House by Mrs. Norton, formerly of the Department of Household Economics of the University of Chicago. Further information in reference to these lectures may be secured at the Office of the Woman's Peace Party.

Child Welfare.

In Great Britain some of the first war economies practiced were in the educational system. Teachers enlisted; school buildings were taken over for military purposes; school appropriations were cut down; the age limits for schooling were so changed that 300,000 little children who had been in school were turned out and thousands of others were excused from school to go to work. As a result, juvenile delinquency in England has greatly increased since the war began. Let us help to preserve our American ideal of child protection in practical ways.

  1. By opposing all attempts to break down the school system, either by relaxing in enforcement of compulsory education laws, or by cutting down school funds.
  2. By opposing all attempts to break down the child labor laws of the state either by giving young children special permits to work, or by exempting certain establishments from the laws limiting hours of labor. [page 2]

Red Cross Relief Work.

The war will bring, through the mobilization of the troops, through speeding up and industrial accidents, through the dislocation of industry, and the reduction of charitable gifts, many problems of civilian relief. Adequate provision for the children and dependent members of the families of men and women "at the front" in war or in industry requires specially trained workers and provision for handling these cases of distress is made through the Red Cross. Members of the Chicago Branch of the Woman's Peace Party who are interested in entering service in connection with these problems of civilian relief may find it profitable to take a course in Social Service in War-time, which has been arranged by the School of Civics and Philanthropy in connection with the local Red Cross organization. Registrations for this course may be made at the Office of the Woman's Peace Party.

There is a general impression that pacifists are not willing to [cooperate] with efforts of this character. On the contrary, some of the ablest relief work in Flanders, France, and Russia is done by English Quakers, who represent the extreme wing of pacifism, non-resistance. Not only were they prompt in offering their services for the restoration of devastated farms and villages, but they established a Friends' Ambulance Corps and rendered other similar services.

Defense of Labor Standards.

We recognize the danger to the health and safety of women if the enforcement of labor laws secured through many years of effort is relaxed during war-time. Accidents increase with the speeding up and the employment of new workers. Long hours mean over-fatigue and industrial poisoning. A British Parliamentary Committee on the Health of Munitions Workers has recently recommended that the eight-hour day be established to "safeguard the devotion of its workers *** lest irreparable harm be done to body and mind, both in this generation and the next."

We, therefore, urge that the standards of protection for all classes of industrial workers, especially those for women and children, be zealously maintained. Violations reported to the Office will be promptly transmitted to the State Factory Inspector.

Protection of Immigrants.

We urge the establishment of friendly relations with persons whose families have recently come to this country; that an effort be made to keep them in the positions they now hold and to find other situations for them should they be thrown out of employment. Work of this sort may be secured in [cooperation] with the Immigrants' Protective League, 1140 South Michigan Avenue.

Prevention of Compulsory Military Service and Military Training in the Schools as a Permanent Policy.

We urge that every effort be made to prevent the adoption of compulsory military training as a permanent policy, and also the introduction of military training into the public schools, two measures which would involve a complete change in American policy and ideals. There is a constant demand for speakers on military training in the public schools. Anyone willing to help along this line may report at the Office of the Woman's Peace Party, where material in reference to the subject may be secured. [page 3]


Raising the Age of Soldiers:

As women who are in the habit of protecting the young, for whom we would gladly give our own lives, we are unwilling to secure safety through the exposure of those who are legally minors. A lad of eighteen is not allowed to vote, to dispose of his property by contract, or to make a will. We urge that the military age be raised to twenty-one, when the young man first arrives at the age of political and legal capacity.

Better Pay for Soldiers.

The man in the munition factory who stays at home receives a standard wage for his work, while the soldier who encounters much greater hardship receives only $15 a month, which too often means the commitment of those dependent upon him to charity. In Canada soldiers "at the front" are paid twice as much as our soldiers and their families also receive a "separation allowance" from the Government, which comes in the form of pensions and not charity. Certainly, the soldier should be paid enough to enable his family to maintain the so-called American standard of living during his absence, and we consider it a patriotic effort in behalf of true Democracy to urge upon the proper authorities better pay for soldiers and the establishment of more equable conditions between the privates and officers.

Defense of Constitutional Rights.

A Local Committee is about to be organized in Chicago similar to those in other cities, to take up the question of constitutional rights of free speech and free assemblage. Instances of violation of these rights will be received at the Office of the Woman's Peace Party, and, when necessary, submitted to this Committee.

War Finance.

The movement for financing the war from the resources of the present generation, rather than by bonding unborn children, is being pushed from several centers. A Committee of economists and others is being organized in Chicago. Anyone interested in the work of this Committee is invited to register at the Office of the Woman's Peace Party.

Democratic Control of War Policies.

A Local Committee has been organized to [cooperate] with similar committees in England and in the Eastern cities in emphasizing the necessity of control over war policy by the people who bear the burden and pay the costs of war. It urges the widest use of the referendum, the recognition of the constitutional responsibility laid upon Congress for the initiation of legislative and financial measures, and such publicity as will not interfere with military or naval operations. [page 4]


As the Chicago Branch of the National Woman's Peace Party, which is the section for the United States of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, we feel the need, since our country has become involved in war, to reaffirm all those principles upon which we believe the future permanent peace of the world to depend.

International Organization.

We urge the careful study of the various proposals which have been brought forward for the establishment of a Society of Nations; we urge members to do all in their power to build a new social order based, not on mutual distrust and selfish competition, but on confidence and good will, upon the spirit of service and [cooperation].

Terms of Peace.

We urge an early statement by our Government to the American people setting forth the objects of the war which we are waging and the terms upon which we will terminate our participation in it, with the hope that negotiations for peace shall be entered into at the earliest possible moment.