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frederick

The United States Boys' Working Reserve

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For an organization that must have been well known in its time, it is almost entirely forgotten today. When I first began acquiring pins and badges from this group, I too had never heard of them and knew nothing about them. A chance find of a booklet issued by the State of Indiana Board of Education for the effect of WWI on state high schools finally explained this group in detail. The first paragraph on the group is:

 

"The United States Boys' Working Reserve is an enrolled army of patriotic volunteer youths between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one years, organized under the United States Department of Labor, to help the nation on the farm and in the factory to win the war. Every boy who is physically fit, who is of proper age, is eligible for this non-military civilian army."

 

Every high school superintendent and principal was appointed as High School Director in the Reserve. Boys enrolled in the program could be released from school if an emergency need for his services was required. In recognition of faithful and honorable service in the Reserve, " the United States Department of Labor has issued a war-service metal known as the "Federal Bronze Badge." The boy's ambition should be to earn this national badge of honor which is of bronze, and bears the Great Seal of the United States and the inscription "Boys' Working Reserve, U.S.A.," together with an individual number for each boy, which number is recorded in Washington opposite the boy's name."

 

Badges could be earned in one of three units:

 

Agricultural Unit: "If he works on a farm during the year...and renders satisfactory service, for at least thirty-six days, he will be awarded the bronze badge and will become an active member of the Reserve..." Half days and full days of emergency work count toward the thirty-six days.

 

Industrial Unit: "...he must have worked faithfully and earnestly in some industry which is considered to be "essential" or productive by the United States Government in helping the nation in the prosecution of the war for a period equivalent to sixty day of eight hours or more each, subsequent to enrollment."

 

Vocational Unit: "...it is necessary that a boy shall subject himself to training in spare time, or in school hours, under the direction of his teachers, to fill a position where he will work at something which is of real help to his country in the present crisis. When he has so fitted himself and when he has entered upon the actual work for which he has been trained, he is awarded the badge immediately."

 

Organized in May, 1917, the Reserve proved to be such a valuable service, it was continued in 1918. Over the years, I have found three types of badges from this group. The shortness of its existence may eliminate variations in the badges. Illustration one shows two of the badges. The top three badges fit the description in the book with the federal eagle, title and numbers. Two of the badges are numbered in the 33,000 range. One badge has a pendent bar HONORABLE SERVICE 1917. The other badges have suspension holes for similar bars. The two lower badges, smaller that the top badges, but not evidenced by the composite photo, are about 5/8 inch in dia. and have no means of additional suspensions. The top three badges carry the maker's mark of W & H, Newark N J and a small shield unreadable with a jeweler's eye loop. The lower two badges carry the shield of Bastian Bros. Rochester N Y.

 

Illustration two shows the Enrollment Lapel Button at the top. This button was awarded upon initial sign up for the Reserve. The bar at the bottom of the photo has the inscription HONORABLE SERVICE 1918 against the initials USBWR. It is a pin back badge with the maker's mark of Bastian Bros. Rochester N Y. This is the most common badge found in my area; I have six or seven of these badges. I can only assume, but have no written evidence, that this badge was given to all individuals in the program in 1918 who had not earned the numbered badge.

 

Illustration three was an odd, chance find. Did not know such buckles existed and can only assume it was a private purchase item and not issued by the Dept. of Labor. The reverse carries the maker's mark of SIMPLON and two patent dates of 1912 and 1913.

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frederick---

 

Thank you for the wonderful post! I am one of those persons who never heard of the organization. However, after reading your "tutorial" and seeing the great examples, I now know what to look for when hitting the flea markets, junk shops, etc. Do you know if there were other items, such as membership cards or patches?

 

---Mike


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Fantastic!

 

I have never seen so many BWR pieces in one place! Also, I have never seen either of the items in illustration two.

 

Thank you for showing and sharing information about this near-forgotten home-front organization.

 

Chris


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Thank you for your kind replies. Did not intend to respond so late, but other things kept me busy.

 

Have attached the only form illustrated in the book--the registration form. Assume these were stored in an index file for future reference. There is mention of different colored forms for different levels (school, district, state). There is also mention of an Enrollment Certificate (given with the Enrollment Button) which is suitable for framing. Assume this implies a size of at least 8 x 10. There is no mention of a membership card; guessing the lapel button serves that purpose.

 

Do not believe a patch or cloth insignia was ever issued, at least on a national basis. Shoulder patches were just coming into use in the Military in WWI and it would be post war before the civilian population would adopt their use--after the BWR ceased to exist. However, many local civic groups issued pins and badges for national programs such as Liberty Loans and War Stamp Savings. It is possible some local group made patches or cloth emblems for the BWR in their city, but I have never seen or heard of one to date.

 

It is interesting to note that the Enrollment Form extends into 1922 for service in the BWR; and Honorable Service Bars for the Bronze Badge were planned for issue to the year 1920. Apparently, the home front was planning for a longer war.

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Some additional information on the awarding of the US Boys' Working Reserve Badges & Bars.

Enrolled - A celluloid stud button (small, 7/8") was given to those who enrolled in the program.


Service - The bronze badge was awarded for 300 hours service

Honorable Service 1918 - The bar was awarded for completion of a full time summer season. (see below)

And this is the uniform catalogue of the US Boys' Working Reserve which includes a photo of the patch of the US BWR

http://sos.oregon.go...boys-girls.aspx

 

Direct link to Uniform specifications and drawings

 

United States Boys Working Reserve Uniforms

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I am willing to bet quite a few of the boys living on farms almost automatically qualified for this program. Most of them were already working on the family farmsteads to begin with!


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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hi guys. this is my first post here.

i was going through some of my grand parents stuff that my mother had saved. i ran across this book, no, more like a pamphlet. is it from WWI? my grandfather was born in 1902, so would have been of age to do this during WWI. maybe you guys can tell me what i have. he was from the Akron, Ohio area, and lived in a farm with his 10 siblings.

thanks

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Some additional information on the awarding of the US Boys' Working Reserve Badges & Bars.

 

The round bronze pin was not awarded upon enrollment, rather a celluloid button was given to those who enrolled.

 

The bronze badge was awarded for 300 hours service and the bar was awarded for completion of a full time summer season. (see below)

 

And this is the uniform catalogue of the US Boys' Working Reserve which includes a photo of the patch of the US BWR

 

http://sos.oregon.gov/archives/exhibits/ww1/Pages/home-front-boys-girls.aspx

 

 

Here is a photo of a slightly different variation with enrolled in the banner.

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