Pictured above, in the fall of 1917, are Helen and Janet Kay, the daughters of David and Janet Kay. The picture was taken at a rally, held at the State Armory, located underneath what is today Interstate Highway 50.
As soon as the Great War started, interest in the Red Cross (ICRC) grew – folks who couldn’t pick up a rifle, because of age, gender or disability wanted an army to join and the ICRC was there. And, by the end of April, a headquarters had been established at Fourth and “J.”
What was required of Sacramento members early on was the ability to type, lift, sterilize and prepare surgical equipment, and drive (especially if you had your own car) so as to collect supplies and donations. Sewing was also in demand and Sac High offered 125 female pupils to do as much.
The Southern Pacific shops immediately signed up 1,700 members. And while the capital city had formed its own chapter, Walnut Grove, North Sacramento, Auburn, Loomis, Newcastle and Stockton were all quick to establish chapters as well.
Fund drives were organized around the ICRC – in early May, county employees had raised $600.00 while Weinstock-Lubin had donated $3,034. The earliest goal for the IRC in Sacramento was $30,000.
The city also voted to levy a property value tax of two cents, just to fund the local chapter – for a total of $14,000. An additional method of funding came from a Red Cross thrift shop on Front Street. Clothing, books, scrap iron, even bones, donated by a local butcher shop, brought in funding for the organization.
Learn more about the Sacramento Red Cross as, on November 5 at 6:30, the Central Library will be presenting The Great War in the Great Valley: Sacramento During the First World War. The program will include discussion on the city and War and a presentation of photos of Sacramento during World War I.
This photo and many more like it can be found in the Sacramento Public Library’s Sacramento Room which is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5, and Thursday 1 to 8.