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Click image to enlarge.

Critical thinking questions

  1. In what ways would the lives of people who moved to cities for industrial jobs change? What would have been different about the type of work they did?
  2. What opportunities do you think people were looking for when they left their homes in Europe or rural areas in the United States to move to American cities? Was it only to take a job, or were there other possible reasons?
  3. How did the need for more industrial production during the war shape the modern American economy? How did it change where population centers are in the country—is it the same today?

Take a closer look

painting of African American migrants

Read the poem excerpt on the poster and then take a close look at this painting. Many of the people are shown carrying all of their belongings in bundles or suitcases similar to the one shown on the poster as they migrate to take jobs in war factories.

What are the ages of the people depicted? Look at how they are walking— what different emotions are shown in this painting?

photo of a crowded urban street

Notice how many people are shown in this image of an urban street.

In 1920, where do you think there were higher population numbers—rural or urban areas?

photo of a munitions factory with many flags

This factory produced munitions for use in long-range artillery. Pay attention to the number of flags hanging in this factory. How would this have made you feel if you were working here?

Read more

Explore online

One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series (Museum of Modern Art) – An in-depth look at Jacob Lawrence’s landmark 1941 painting series about the mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North.

Patriotic Labor: American During World War I (Digital Public Library of America) – This World War I exhibit includes a section on wartime labor and industry.