Saturday, March 7, 2009


The past few weeks have been rife with landmarks for the 1917 food riots, so I thought I would post a rough timeline that I have been working off of.

Sunday 2/18
  • Protest in Claremont Park (Bronx)
Monday 2/19
  • Williamsburg: 2,000 women pledge to enforce boycott
  • Five women place announcement in the Forward for the next morning (1,000 gather at Rutger's Square the next morning)
Tues 2/20
  • Altercation on Orchard Street (woman vs. onion peddler); spreads to Rivington
  • 50 women congregate at the Forward building; they later move to Rutgers Sq. to make speeches
  • The crowd grows to 1,000 women; someone suggest marching to City Hall; the women are led by Mrs. Ida Harris & Marie Ganz.
  • 300 to 400 women arrive at City Hall, shouting “We want food! Give us bread! Feed our children!” in Yiddish and English
  • Marie Ganz is arrested for shouting and inciting the crowd to “Stay here until you’re heard!”; 200 women storm the police station and secure her release
  • Mrs. Harris holds mass meeting at P.S. 62 (across from Seward Park)
  • 2,000 to 5,000 people (mostly female) crowd into the Forward’s Hall at ameeting called by the Socialist party; by 7PM, room is packed, 2 hrs. pass before individual speeches can be heard.
  • Jacob Panken, Socialist lawyer, allowed to speak; asks that violence not be used, that food not be destroyed since there are low levels of it, calls for mass demonstration of half a million women and children the following Saturday.
  • Mother’s Anti-High Price League (MAHPL) is formed
Wed 2/21
  • Women ban sale of all vegetables
Thurs 2/22
  • Chicken & fish added to boycott; newspapers report no customers for vendors
Sat 2/24
  • Midafternoon, approx. 5,000 march to Madison Square; crowd is approx. 90% foreign-born and 80% female with many children & baby carriages
  • Socialist speaker Bella Zilberman asks rhetorically how many listeners would march to the Waldof-Astoria where Gov. Whitman was rumored to be to “show them that you are hungry,” more than 1,000 women and children go to the hotel, causing a riot.
  • Committee of MAHPL Socialist separately go to where Governor actually is, the St. Regis Hotel
  • Reports also of 5,000 to 10,000 people joining here in mass meeting
Sun 2/25
  • MAHPL holds mass coalition meeting in P.S. 62 off Rutgers Sq.
Mon 2/26
  • Wholesalers cut prices, retail prices plummet for next two weeks
  • Mayor’s Food Supply Committe distributes copies of a circular extolling the nutrutional virtues of rice to 800,000 schoolchildren; women respond with anti-rice protest, “We American Can Not Live on Rice”
Tues 2/27
  • MAHPL sends delegates to Albany to request relief measures; bombard officials with letters demanding state-managed food sales; they also go to NYC’s aldermen.
Wed 3/1
  • 100 women arrested in the Bronx
  • Shipments of 20,000 lbs. of Pacific Coast smelts arrived in city by emergencyorder to be sold at “minimal cost”
Tues 3/7
  • Potatoes and other vegetables reappear on pushcarts
Wed 3/8
  • Brazilian beans and hominy are also sold; pamphlets distributed about their value (in reality, these are rare foods being used to avoid direct competition with trade)
Sat 3/11
  • Potatoes return to pre-boycott price ($0.06/lb)
Mon 3/13
  • MAHPL again sends delegates to Albany
Second week in March
  • Onions go from $0.18/lb to $0.11 & $0.12/lb.; potatoes from $0.10 to $0.07
  • Chickens go from $0.32 to $0.22
  • Eventually prices rose again, sharp climb again in 1918

1 comment:

Lucy said...

I stumbled across your timeline while working on a research project and I am terribly interested in where you found these dates (ie, New York Times, New York Post, etc). Please let me know? Thank you so much!!