In order in finance the war effort, the United States issued government bonds known as “Liberty Loans” and “Liberty Bonds.” While the bulk of the bonds issued in Hartford were purchased by the city’s major business corporations, it was considered to be the patriotic duty of every American citizen to buy Liberty Loans. Leon Broadhurst, the president of the Phoenix Bank and Hartford chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, considered women to be an important asset for reaching bond subscription goals. “If they cannot shoulder a musket and fight for their country as men can, at least they can do their part by buying a Liberty Loan.”
The Federal Reserve Board turned to Fannie Briggs Houghton Bulkeley (Mrs. Morgan G.) to enlist women in the cause. One of her first actions was to enlist was to tap into her network of the members of the Connecticut chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
But Hartford and Connecticut women’s involvement with Liberty Loan campaigns were not limited to the society elites. Various women’s loan sub-committees organized around ethnicity were formed. The Italian Women’s Loan Committee was led by the wives and daughters of prominent Italian American bankers, lawyers and businessmen. The Polish Women’s Loan Committee included first and second generation young Polish women, many of whom worked as bookkeepers and stenographers. “Special days” (i.e. Italian Day) were held at the Liberty Loan cottage at the old City Hall (today known as the Old State House) to entice citizens of certain nationalities to buy loans. Sub-committee members would be on hand to encourage sales and interpret for the bond buyers.
Women in the work force also played their part in selling Liberty Loans. Members of company “girls” clubs would dress in patriotic costume and make their way through the business and factory floors encouraging their co-workers to participate in bond sales. Riding on their company’s floats in Liberty Loan parades was another way to drum up support.Various women’s loan sub-committees organized around ethnicity were formed.