World War I: Red Cross in Stark County

Red Cross in Stark County
Upon America’s entry into the First World War, the American Red Cross underwent rapid growth as a humanitarian organization.  Stark County’s chapters—Canton, Alliance, and Massillon—reflect the vigor of this period.  The chapters performed activities such as creating bandages and comfort bags.  In 1917, Alliance raised $25,000 for the war cause, while their neighbors in Canton served more than 200 disabled veterans until the Great Depression.  The Massillon chapter established 24 local branches.  Its accomplishments included producing more than 111,000 gauze dressings and 12,736 muslin dressings, collecting 12,536 pounds of clothing for Belgium, and registering nearly 20,000 workers.  Nationally, the Red Cross played a significant role in treating and caring for the sick and dying during the influenza pandemic.

African American women were not allowed to participate in the Red Cross until the end of the war.  Eighteen black women were offered assignments at Camp Grant in Illinois and Camp Sherman in Ohio.  Women, in general, participated in the war in various ways such as farming and industrial employment.  They continued to actively initiate social and cultural change during and beyond the war.

Massillon's Red Cross Chapter:

  • The Board of Directors included the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor of Massillon, and the president of the Social Service League

    (from the Stark County Honor Roll, World War I, collection Massillon Museum)
  • Total workers registered 1917-1919 was 19,492 for Massillon and surrounding townships
  • The Red Cross assisted the war effort and made:
    • 110,000 gauze dressings
    • 3,200 sweaters
    • 3,913 pairs of socks

Red Cross workers in Massillon, Ohio, c.1918
Collection of Melissa Seibert
Photograph by Courtney Studio, Canton, Ohio

Red Cross worker with vehicle in front of the Chapter headquarters, c. 1918
Collection Massillon Museum
Gift of Dan Douglass (90.25.767)

A Group of Red Cross Workers, Massillon, Ohio
from the Stark County Honor Roll, World War I
Collection Massillon Museum

Red Cross workers march in the Armistice Parade, 1918
Massillon, Ohio
Collection of the Massillon Museum
Gift of the Karl Spuhler Estate (91.7.1172.B)

Red Cross headquarters in Massillon, Ohio, 1918
The building still sits on the southwest corner of Fourth Street Northeast and Federal Avenue East.
From the Stark County Honor Roll, World War I
Collection Massillon Museum

The Former Red Cross Headquarters, 2015
The building today is Mount Cavalry Missionary Baptist Church.
Photo by Mandy Altimus Pond

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