|Date(s):||April 20, 1918|
|Location(s):||Rockland County, New York|
|Tag(s):||World War I, Farmers, Labor|
|Course:||“Historian's Craft,” SUNY New Paltz|
|Rating:||5 (1 votes)|
In Rockland County, New York, farmers were short on help during the spring of 1918. Most of their farm hands were being pressed into military service after the United States entered World War I in April 1917. Food production was likely to suffer. However, the Rockland County Times on 20 April, 1918,brought good news. The New York State Food Commission created the New York State Boys’ Working Reserve in March 1918 to select and mobilize young men ages 16 to 21 in support of the farms. The boys mostly came from New York City and were screened before being sent to farms upstate. In April 1918, one thousand boys had already bent sent to assist the farmers in their tasks.
The farmers were encouraged to put in requests for additional help at once, before the season began in earnest. Farmers who requested help sooner were able to get a better selection of workers than those who did so later. L.A. Muckle from the Rockland County Farm Bureau and Mr. G M Carleton of Mahwah, New Jersey, obtained the necessary paperwork and coordinated labor support for farmers. Mr. Carleton had charge of the boys from New York City High School, who would be mobilized to support Rockland County Farmers.
As of April 20, 1918, Mr. Carleton had ten boys ready for mobilization to the Rockland County to support the farms there. Furthermore, he was able to reserve an additional twenty to thirty boys within the following two weeks if he received applications from the farmers promptly. Farmers were assured that Mr. Carleton would do his best in screening the boys to be mobilized. The boys sent would be strong and willing workers who would fulfill the requirements the farmers had. These boys proved to be a valuable asset in assuring food production would not falter and contribute to the war effor
This article demonstrates that labor was a huge problem not only for the farmers in Rockland County, but also for farmers and businesses across the United States. Labor shortages not only decreased the production rates, but also hampered the war effort. The United States was not well prepared to meet its labor needs after the declaration of war in April, 1917. The creation of the Boys’ Working Reserve suggest that the government was slow to identify these issues and devise a strategy to mitigate them. The Boys’ Working Reserve provided relief to farmers, but it came nearly a year after the United States entered the war.