The year was 1917 and it began with the U.S. maintaining its neutrality and President Woodrow Wilson speaking out for a “peace without victory.” But the year would end with the U.S. embroiled in the conflict it had sought for nearly three years to avoid.
By the time the U.S. had entered the war the world food supply had been severely cut. Farms throughout countries that had formerly been leading agricultural producers had been abandoned as farmers left the fields to take up arms. Fields of wheat became fields of battle and crops were burned, trampled and destroyed. The burden of feeding stricken countries in Europe fell to the U.S.Â A month before the U.S. officially entered the war, the National War Garden Commission was formed to promote the building of gardens and preservation of produce through canning or drying. War gardens were created across the country and according to the book The War Garden Victorious (Pack, Charles Lathrop, 1919), “Boston Common was credited with having one of the finest demonstration war gardens. . .” and “the city of Rochester, New York [had] more than 15,000 war gardens in 1918.”
The war needed soldiers too and in 1917 and 1918 over 24 million men in the U.S. completed draft registration cards (available to Ancestry.com members) and 2.8 million were drafted to serve.
With the passage of the Jones-Shafroth ActÂ on March 2, citizens of Puerto Rico received full U.S. citizenship. The island would send 20,000 soldiers to the U.S. Army to serve in WWI.
Also in March, the Russian RevolutionÂ began with the overthrow of the Czarist regime of Nicholas II and the creation of a provisional government. Later that year the Bolsheviks would seize control in what is known as the â€œOctober Revolution.â€
As the earth across Europe was scorched, another world was created as J.R.R. Tolkien first wrote about Middle Earth in the Book of Lost Tales, which was the first version of the â€œSilmarillion.â€
In movies, Mary Pickford starred in The Little Princess, the story of a little girl left in a boarding house when her father went off to war. In another film, Charlie Chaplinâ€™s â€œTrampâ€ character came to America in The Immigrant.