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Collection Tier:
Tier 2

World War I
Clothing and Accessories
Uniforms ➔ Uniform Cape

This green YMCA cape is made of wool and has a blue collar with US patches on each side. There are six buttons on the center front and armholes at the waist. It was worn during World War I by Esther Irene Booth of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
circa 1914 – 1918
Current Location Status:
In Storage
Gift Of Esther Booth

Esther Irene Booth
Esther Irene Booth of Grand Rapids was a member of the founding family of Booth Newspapers. She was a niece of the late George Booth, founder of the newspaper group. Her father, the late Edmund Booth, was editor of the Grand Rapids Press and an officer of Booth Newspapers. For seven years during the Depression, Miss Booth was acting director of the Grand Rapids Art Gallery [now the Grand Rapids Art Museum]. She worked in the Red Cross in France during World War One. In World War II, she was chairman of the Red Cross citywide sewing center project in Grand Rapids. She also worked in the Veterans Hospital in Kalamazoo. Miss Booth was an honorary life trustee of Kent County Club. 

Source:  Obituary for Esther Booth, The Grand Rapids Press, July 12, 1984, page 6.

The Young Men's Christian Association, also known as the YMCA, is a worldwide organization that specializes in helping enlisted men, women and military families strengthen their spiritual, mental, and physical well being during and after times of war. The YMCA was founded in 1844 by George Williams in London, England.  In 1914, the YMCA began officially excepting women as volunteers into the organization to provide aid to American Soldiers both at home and overseas. During WWI, The YMCA  raised and spent over $155 million on welfare efforts for American soldiers.YMCA volunteers worked as surgeons, nurses, chaplains, and distributors of emergency medical supplies, food, and clothing. The YMCA had a paid staff of 26,000 men and women and 35,000 volunteers to attend to the spiritual and social needs of soldiers at home and abroad. Initially, the army needed every soldier in the ranks, so the YMCA willingly assumed the burden of running canteens. The YMCA operated 1,500 canteens and post exchanges under policies and restrictions that the army established until such restrictions were disbanded later in the war. The YMCA  today continues to engage young men and women in a variety of charitable activities in hope of making a difference in the lives of those who serve our country. 


Related Place
Grand Rapids
Related Object