Dakota Datebook

Statewide Crop and Labor Survey

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


In April of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress and asked for a declaration of war against Germany.  Wilson cited Germany’s use of unrestricted submarine warfare, as well as its attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States.  Congress voted in favor of Wilson’s request.  In June, the first 14,000 American troops landed in France.

In support of the war effort, North Dakota Governor Lynn J. Frazier issued a proclamation on this date in 1918 ordering all schools throughout the state to be closed on March 8.  This would allow administrators, teachers, and students to assist with a statewide labor and crop survey.  The survey would provide the necessary data to allow for the most acreage possible to be planted in the spring.

Governor Frazier called the situation “the present national crisis” and said he had every confidence that North Dakotans would respond as they always had in times of need.  It would be up to the state to produce “large quantities of food products.”  But producing the food would depend on the individual efforts of every single North Dakotan, including the school children.

The State Department of Agriculture and Labor was tasked with overseeing the Labor and Crop Survey.  The effort would consist of a house-to-house survey in every community.  It was scheduled for March 8th and 9th.  Frazier was confident that it could be completed in two days.  Since March 8 was a Friday, the day was declared a legal holiday and all schools in the state would be closed.  Questionnaires were provided for students who would complete the survey in a designated area.  The questionnaires were designed to take a comprehensive inventory of available seed, feed, livestock, and machinery.  Students in urban areas would survey the labor available for farm work.  Citizens were instructed to cooperate with the students and provide the necessary information.

President Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover as United States Food Administrator.  Food became a weapon, and no country produced more than the United States.  Farmers were encouraged to produce as much as possible, meaning North Dakota farmers had a crucial role to play.


Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


The Wahpeton Times. “Governor Issues a Proclamation.” 21 February, 2918.

Office of the Historian. “U.S. Entry into World War I.” https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914-1920/wwi Access 9 January, 2017.

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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