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September 2, 1917

The chairman of the American Red Cross War Council announced the formation of a Junior Red Cross, open to all 22,000,000 school children in the country at a membership fee of 25 cents, to be raised by schools, cities or states. Participating schools became auxiliaries of the Red Cross, associated with local Red Cross chapters, and the funds collected were used to buy materials for children to turn into articles useful to the war effort. President MacCracken, who had developed the concept in consultation with teachers and the Red Cross, was named national director of the Junior Membership Bureau of the American Red Cross, a post in which he served until December 1918.

“The work for the Red Cross,” he said when his appointment was announced, “will teach service for others and unselfish giving; it will stimulate interest in our National Government and its policies during the war, and it will afford a useful release for the youthful energy which is stimulated by the violent and morbid aspects of war conditions….” MacCracken cited the pilot program undertaken in some schools in New York State the previous spring as evidence of the new program’s potential. “The vocational classes…last spring made over 40,000 articles during the last few weeks of the school year for the Red Cross. …Mrs. [Anna Hedges] Talbot, director of vocational education for girls in the State, says that in many cases…their work was, if anything, better than that in the adult work.”

The New York Times

This new responsibility obliged MacCracken to resign as chief of the Division of Instruction in New York State’s Council of Defense on September 5. One of his final projects as chief of the division, announced September 8, was “Loyalty Week.” Ten teams of speakers were preparing to speak on “Why the Nation Is At War,” “The Military Needs of the Nation” and “The Patriotic Services of the Civilian.” Targeting pacifist objectors and new immigrants, in particular, each team visited ten New York counties during the week of September 17. “It is time,” MacCracken said, “that some great demonstration, like ‘Loyalty Week,’ should prove to the world that the enemies of the Government and of American ideals are the smallest fraction of the population.” The New York Times

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