New York State Defense Council

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The State Defense Council was created by Chapter 369 of the Laws of 1917. Its responsibilities included making "all investigations and plans for efficient coordination and cooperation of the military, industrial, agricultural and commercial resources of the state in time of war". It was charged with the "creation of relations which render possible immediate concentration and utilization of state resources for military purposes". Preparedness meant the organization and coordination of the civilian as well as military population, and encompassed transportation systems, hospital and medical services, industry, volunteer organizations, and the supervision of aliens. Persons employed by the council were deemed to be in the military service of the state.

The council controlled expenditures made from appropriations voted in 1917 for general mobilization of the state's resources (Chapter 3), for a food supply commission (Chapter 205), and for a military census (Chapter 103). Detailed plans for taking a military census and mobilizing the state's resources were worked out by the Adjutant General's Office through divisions within a Resource Mobilization Bureau. Governor Charles S. Whitman was chairman, W.A. Orr was secretary, and Joseph H. Wilson was auditor of the council. Other members appointed in May of 1917 included Frank M. Williams, the State Engineer and Surveyor; William W. Wotherspoon, the Superintendent of Public Works, Charles S. Wilson, the Commissioner of Agriculture; and Charles H. Sherrill, who became Adjutant General in September of 1917 upon the resignation of Louis W. Stotesbury.

At a meeting on November 29, 1918 the Council decided that the wartime emergency for which it was created had ended with the Armistice, and that it would conclude its activities on December 15, 1918. Two branches of its work continued: the Bureau of Americanization, under the State Education Department; and the Division of Information, which continued to handle requests from Washington for publicity on activities regarding federal reconstruction programs, and kept the county defense committees advised of its work.

Chapter 123 of the Laws of 1919 abolished the council and stated that its "books, papers and documents" were to be turned over to the Adjutant General's office. The law took effect in March of 1919.

THE RESOURCE MOBILIZATION BUREAU. This bureau was the mechanism devised by the Adjutant General's office to accompish the major work of mobilizing the state's resources for war. Its construct reflected the idea that direct channels of "military communication" and orqanizational hierarchy were critical to massing a united effort of military and civilian resources, and to reinforcing the idea that civilians were expected to accept certain minimum standards of personal contribution in time of war. The bureau included the following 12 divisions: Military Census (hundreds of thousands of persons in the state, including the illiterate and non-English speaking were enrolled, largely by volunteers); Finance (raising money for general work); Publicity and Information; Defense and Security (bringing military strength to the maximum, including enrollment of men not eligible for the National Guard, on account of age or disability, for home defense); Information and Intelligence; Transportation (coordinating railroads, trolleys, automobiles and other vehicles and listing drivers, chauffeurs and others engaged in transport); Food Production and Conservation (operating through the Food Supply Commission appointed by the Govenor and cooperating with county farm bureaus); Division of Co-Operating Agencies (coordinating organizations and individuals for war work);

Division of Aliens (supervising location of aliens, registering and enlisting aliens, and dealing with treasonable activities); Instruction (in personal hygiene, first aid, operation of field bakeries, and economic cooking in the home); Health and Hospitals (supervising care of discharged permanently disabled soldiers, the establishment of schools and re-education of the crippled and blinded and the marketing of their goods, and the protection of private practice during the absence of medical officers); and Industrial (investigating needs of vital industries, providing labor for them, providing information on welfare of workers, and cooperating with the State Industrial Commission and the local chambers of commerce). For each of these divisions there was a corresponding sub-committee in each county under the direction of the county home defense committee.

COUNTY HOME DEFENSE COMMITTEES. Through planning by the Adjutant General's office, the county was made the unit for mobilization of the state's resources during wartime. Each of the 62 counties was represented by a committee of seven known as the home defense committee. Members of the home defense committees were appointed for each county by mayors of cities, county judges, and chairmen of boards of supervisors, and in New York City by the mayor. The original committee of seven was enlarged to provide a general committee made up of subcommittees for all activities, including representation for women on committees and subcommittees.

The county committees were organized around 12 divisions of work with subcommittees that mirrored the twelve divisions established by the Resource Mobilization Bureau. They had charge of taking the military census; raising money for all direct county work; publicity and information; enrollment for home defense of men not eligible for the National Guard; "secret service" investigations such as topographic map-making; evolving a workable system of transportation; food production and conservation; and coordinating work of private societies, organizations, and individuals that constituted an outpouring of community support.

County home defense committees were engaged in several areas pertinent to war relief efforts. These areas included: working with the state council's Division of Health and Hospitals providing free medical treatment for enlistment applicants when enlistment was rejected because of curable physical defects; arranging routes for a motor convoy conveying materials across the state; providing information on and issuing licenses for non-war construction, and reporting to the state on building projects upon which post-war deferment was requested; curtailing unnecessary retail deliveries and reducing the return of goods, as a means to prevent diversion of workers from war work; establishing "Return Load Bureaus" for motor truck expess lines, to make truck travel more efficient, relieve railroad congestion, and assure prompt delivery of short-haul shipments to manufacturers and shippers; and conducting recruitment appeals and enrolling applicants in the United States Ship Yards Volunteer program.

Chapter 525 of the Laws of 1917 authorized county supervisors to appropriate funds for county defense committees for a period not longer than "the expiration of six months after the close of the present war." The home defense committees routinely cooperated in federal efforts such as: the Liberty Loan program; federal exemption and enlistment boards; Herbert Hoover's food conservation pledge and "cleanup campaign" (to reach American homemakers); federal collection of the personal income tax; and the U.S. War Department's plans (subsequently discontinued) for a pictorial history of war work.

The six-month provision in the law permitted funding to continue after the Armistice (which was viewed as the close of the war), for assistance to the food program and other work initiated in Washington to meet the problems of peace. As the work of the Council of Defense concluded, it was suggested that the county and community defense councils, as their final act, prepare an Honor Roll to incude the names of all those in military or naval service from the start of the war to the Armistice.

COUNCIL OF NATIONAL DEFENSE. The war effort was strongly directed at the federal level. Given the crucial situation of the Allies at the time of America's entry into the war, concerted efforts were made to quickly mobilize great amounts of money, food, supplies, and troops overseas. Members of the Council of National Defense included the secretaries of the federal departments of War, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, and Labor. W.S. Gifford was director of the National Council and also of the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense. Grosvenor B. Clarkson was secretary to both the National Council and the Commission.

The Council was comprised of several boards and sections, including those on production, standards, munitions, commercial economy, medical work, food supply and prices, war inventions, and women's defense work. The section on Co-Operation with State Organizations was headed by George F. Foster, and later by his successor, Arthur H. Fleming.

The separate Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense was chaired by Daniel Willard. It was organized into several committees and subcommittees, including those for transportation and communication, munitions, science and research, raw materials, labor, and medicine and surgery (including general sanitation).

There was continuous and active communication and cooperation between state and federal governments throughout the war, especially in regard to ensuring military service, reinforcing patriotic sentiments, and eliciting contributions to help meet the enormous economic cost of the war.

From the description of New York State Defense Council Agency History Record. (New York State Archives). WorldCat record id: 122468983

In response to an appeal by the Council of National Defense, the U.S. Shipping Board, and the U.S. Department of Labor, New York organized a state U.S. Public Service Reserve, which worked in cooperation with the State Defense Council to recruit men to fill needs of ship building yards and for other services. The reserve had no power to take men from the draft; work in the shipyards placed men in a deferred class. There was no enrollment for women workers.

Neither a fee nor a physical was required of applicants. Wages and living conditions were stated when the call for workers came from Washington, D.C., and those enrolled in the reserve were free to accept or reject offers for positions.

The "Four Minute Men" organization was a branch of the Committee on Public Information commissioned to speak to motion picture theater audiences on topics of national importance. The group's New York City committee worked with the State Defense Council Speaker's Bureau to conduct a campaign publicizing the importance of ship building to the war effort and encouraging enrollment in the Public Service Reserve.

From the description of United States Public Service Reserve correspondence files, 1917-1918. (New York State Archives). WorldCat record id: 81294501

The State Defense Council was created by Chapter 369 of the Laws of 1917. Its responsibilities included making "all investigations and plans for efficient coordination and cooperation of the military, industrial, agricultural and commercial resources of the state in time of war". It was charged with the "creation of relations which render possible immediate concentration and utilization of state resources for military purposes". Preparedness meant the organization and coordination of the civilian as well as military population, and encompassed transportation systems, hospital and medical services, industry, volunteer organizations, and the supervision of aliens. Persons employed by the council were deemed to be in the military service of the state.

The council controlled expenditures made from appropriations voted in 1917 for general mobilization of the state's resources (Chapter 3), for a food supply commission (Chapter 205), and for a military census (Chapter 103). Detailed plans for taking a military census and mobilizing the state's resources were worked out by the Adjutant General's Office through divisions within a Resource Mobilization Bureau. Governor Charles S. Whitman was chairman, W.A. Orr was secretary, and Joseph H. Wilson was auditor of the council. Other members appointed in May of 1917 included Frank M. Williams, the State Engineer and Surveyor; William W. Wotherspoon, the Superintendent of Public Works, Charles S. Wilson, the Commissioner of Agriculture; and Charles H. Sherrill, who became Adjutant General in September of 1917 upon the resignation of Louis W. Stotesbury.

At a meeting on November 29, 1918 the Council decided that the wartime emergency for which it was created had ended with the Armistice, and that it would conclude its activities on December 15, 1918. Two branches of its work continued: the Bureau of Americanization, under the State Education Department; and the Division of Information, which continued to handle requests from Washington for publicity on activities regarding federal reconstruction programs, and kept the county defense committees advised of its work.

Chapter 123 of the Laws of 1919 abolished the council and stated that its "books, papers and documents" were to be turned over to the Adjutant General's office. The law took effect in March of 1919.

THE RESOURCE MOBILIZATION BUREAU. This bureau was the mechanism devised by the Adjutant General's office to accompish the major work of mobilizing the state's resources for war. Its construct reflected the idea that direct channels of "military communication" and orqanizational hierarchy were critical to massing a united effort of military and civilian resources, and to reinforcing the idea that civilians were expected to accept certain minimum standards of personal contribution in time of war. The bureau included the following 12 divisions: Military Census (hundreds of thousands of persons in the state, including the illiterate and non-English speaking were enrolled, largely by volunteers); Finance (raising money for general work); Publicity and Information; Defense and Security (bringing military strength to the maximum, including enrollment of men not eligible for the National Guard, on account of age or disability, for home defense); Information and Intelligence; Transportation (coordinating railroads, trolleys, automobiles and other vehicles and listing drivers, chauffeurs and others engaged in transport); Food Production and Conservation (operating through the Food Supply Commission appointed by the Govenor and cooperating with county farm bureaus); Division of Co-Operating Agencies (coordinating organizations and individuals for war work);

Division of Aliens (supervising location of aliens, registering and enlisting aliens, and dealing with treasonable activities); Instruction (in personal hygiene, first aid, operation of field bakeries, and economic cooking in the home); Health and Hospitals (supervising care of discharged permanently disabled soldiers, the establishment of schools and re-education of the crippled and blinded and the marketing of their goods, and the protection of private practice during the absence of medical officers); and Industrial (investigating needs of vital industries, providing labor for them, providing information on welfare of workers, and cooperating with the State Industrial Commission and the local chambers of commerce). For each of these divisions there was a corresponding sub-committee in each county under the direction of the county home defense committee.

COUNTY HOME DEFENSE COMMITTEES. Through planning by the Adjutant General's office, the county was made the unit for mobilization of the state's resources during wartime. Each of the 62 counties was represented by a committee of seven known as the home defense committee. Members of the home defense committees were appointed for each county by mayors of cities, county judges, and chairmen of boards of supervisors, and in New York City by the mayor. The original committee of seven was enlarged to provide a general committee made up of subcommittees for all activities, including representation for women on committees and subcommittees.

The county committees were organized around 12 divisions of work with subcommittees that mirrored the twelve divisions established by the Resource Mobilization Bureau. They had charge of taking the military census; raising money for all direct county work; publicity and information; enrollment for home defense of men not eligible for the National Guard; "secret service" investigations such as topographic map-making; evolving a workable system of transportation; food production and conservation; and coordinating work of private societies, organizations, and individuals that constituted an outpouring of community support.

County home defense committees were engaged in several areas pertinent to war relief efforts. These areas included: working with the state council's Division of Health and Hospitals providing free medical treatment for enlistment applicants when enlistment was rejected because of curable physical defects; arranging routes for a motor convoy conveying materials across the state; providing information on and issuing licenses for non-war construction, and reporting to the state on building projects upon which post-war deferment was requested; curtailing unnecessary retail deliveries and reducing the return of goods, as a means to prevent diversion of workers from war work; establishing "Return Load Bureaus" for motor truck expess lines, to make truck travel more efficient, relieve railroad congestion, and assure prompt delivery of short-haul shipments to manufacturers and shippers; and conducting recruitment appeals and enrolling applicants in the United States Ship Yards Volunteer program.

Chapter 525 of the Laws of 1917 authorized county supervisors to appropriate funds for county defense committees for a period not longer than "the expiration of six months after the close of the present war." The home defense committees routinely cooperated in federal efforts such as: the Liberty Loan program; federal exemption and enlistment boards; Herbert Hoover's food conservation pledge and "cleanup campaign" (to reach American homemakers); federal collection of the personal income tax; and the U.S. War Department's plans (subsequently discontinued) for a pictorial history of war work.

The six-month provision in the law permitted funding to continue after the Armistice (which was viewed as the close of the war), for assistance to the food program and other work initiated in Washington to meet the problems of peace. As the work of the Council of Defense concluded, it was suggested that the county and community defense councils, as their final act, prepare an Honor Roll to incude the names of all those in military or naval service from the start of the war to the Armistice.

COUNCIL OF NATIONAL DEFENSE. The war effort was strongly directed at the federal level. Given the crucial situation of the Allies at the time of America's entry into the war, concerted efforts were made to quickly mobilize great amounts of money, food, supplies, and troops overseas. Members of the Council of National Defense included the secretaries of the federal departments of War, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, and Labor. W.S. Gifford was director of the National Council and also of the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense. Grosvenor B. Clarkson was secretary to both the National Council and the Commission.

The Council was comprised of several boards and sections, including those on production, standards, munitions, commercial economy, medical work, food supply and prices, war inventions, and women's defense work. The section on Co-Operation with State Organizations was headed by George F. Foster, and later by his successor, Arthur H. Fleming.

The separate Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense was chaired by Daniel Willard. It was organized into several committees and subcommittees, including those for transportation and communication, munitions, science and research, raw materials, labor, and medicine and surgery (including general sanitation).

There was continuous and active communication and cooperation between state and federal governments throughout the war, especially in regard to ensuring military service, reinforcing patriotic sentiments, and eliciting contributions to help meet the enormous economic cost of the war.

From the New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY. Agency record NYSV86-A365

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf New York State Defense Council. Correspondence files, 1917-1918. New York State Archives
creatorOf New York State Defense Council. Administrative and correspondence files, 1917-1918. New York State Archives
referencedIn Charles W. Poletti papers, 1865-1991, [Bulk: 1923-1970]. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
creatorOf New York State Defense Council. Correspondence with state agencies, 1917-1918. New York State Archives
creatorOf New York State Defense Council. United States Public Service Reserve correspondence files, 1917-1918. New York State Archives
referencedIn Poletti, Charles, 1903-2002. Charles W. Poletti papers, 1920-1991 [Bulk: 1923-1970]. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf New York State Defense Council. Correspondence of county home defense committees, 1917-1918. New York State Archives
creatorOf New York State Defense Council. Subject correspondence files, 1917-1918. New York State Archives
creatorOf New York State War Council. General correspondence, 1940-1945. New York State Archives
creatorOf New York State Defense Council. New York State Defense Council Agency History Record. New York State Archives
creatorOf New York State Defense Council. Correspondence with National Council of Defense, 1917-1918. New York State Archives
creatorOf Kirchhofer, Alfred H. (Alfred Henry), 1892-1985. Papers, 1888-1982 (bulk 1921-1982). Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief. corporateBody
associatedWith American Defense Society. corporateBody
associatedWith American Red Cross. corporateBody
associatedWith Bailey, George F. person
associatedWith Charity Organization Society of the City of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith Clarkson, Grosvenor B. person
associatedWith Fleming, Arthur H. person
associatedWith Fletcher, Esten A. person
associatedWith Foster, Frederic E. person
associatedWith Foster, George F. person
associatedWith Gifford, W.S. person
associatedWith Hall, William E. person
associatedWith Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964. person
associatedWith Kirchhofer, Alfred H. (Alfred Henry), 1892-1985. person
associatedWith McLennan, D.R. person
associatedWith Morgan, William Fellowes. person
associatedWith New York (State). Adjutant General's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith New York (State). Governor (1915-1918 : Whitman) corporateBody
associatedWith New York State War Council. corporateBody
associatedWith Orr, William A. person
associatedWith Orr, William A. person
associatedWith Poletti, Charles, 1903-2002. person
associatedWith Sherill, Charles H. person
associatedWith Sherill, Charles H. person
associatedWith Sherrill, Charles H. person
associatedWith Smith, A.D. person
associatedWith Treman, Charles E. person
associatedWith United States. Council of National Defense. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Food Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. President (1913-1921 : Wilson) corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Public Service Reserve. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. War Industries Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Whitman, Charles S. person
associatedWith Whitman, Charles S., 1868-1947. person
associatedWith Williams, Frank M. person
associatedWith Wilson, Charles S. person
associatedWith Wilson, Charles S. person
associatedWith Wilson, Joseph H. person
associatedWith Wilson, Joseph H. person
associatedWith Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924. person
associatedWith Wotherspoon, William W. person
associatedWith Wotherspoon, William W. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)
New York (State)
New York (State)
New York (State)
New York (State)
New York (State)
New York (State)
New York (State)
New York (State)
Subject
War and emergency legislation
Food conservation
Industrial mobilization
Military readiness
Military service, Voluntary
Communicable diseases--Hospitals
Liberty bonds
World War, 1914-1918--Health aspects
Shipbuilding
Patriotism
World War, 1914-1918--Civilian relief
Construction
World War, 1914-1918 Censorship
Women in war
War and emergency powers
Building permits
War and society
Transportation, Military
Advertising--Recruiting and enlistment
Military trucks
World War, 1914-1918--War work--Red Cross
Recruiting and enlistment
Loyalty
State local-relations
Aliens
War relief
Material and infant welfare
Civil defense
World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1914-1918--Economic aspects
War--Economic aspects
Occupation
Function
Coordinating emergency services
Public safety
Form letters
Recruiting volunteers
Lists
Investigating patriotism
Coordinating industries
Memoranda
planning emergency services
Supervising military personnel
Coordinating civilian participation
Administering government policy
Coordinating state government
Monitoring infrastructure
Coordinating citizen participation

Corporate Body

Active 1917

Active 1918

Information

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