Dining in France: Analyzing Frank R. Steed’s Menu Collection

By Chelse Martin

Warning: Pangs of hunger might occur. Viewers are advised to have a snack in hand as they read below.

As I combed through Frank R. Steed’s scrapbooks, I came across a number of menus that he had collected while serving his country in WWI France. Since the menus were in French, I decided to translate and transcribe them so that they can be read and interpreted by a wider audience. In addition to the translation and transcriptions, the menu data from his collection helps one to further explore the relationship between restaurant options in both America and France during and after WWI.

Steed, Frank R. “Manuscript Journals of Frank R. Steed US soldier in WWI France, 1918-1919.” Villanova University Digital Collections. Accessed December 3, 2015 http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Search/Results?lookfor=steed&type=AllFields

(Hover over the images to reveal translated text)

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In “Save a loaf a week, help win the War”: Food Conservation and World War I, I explored food production and food conservation in WWI America in relation to the distribution of these foodstuffs in WWI Europe. I wanted to take this food study a step further: By studying these menus one could better understand how Steed remembered his dining experiences during WWI. However, it is unclear whether Steed collected these menus because he had dined at these places, for their aesthetic value, or for some other purpose. One could argue that even though Steed might have not actually eaten at these restaurants, he nevertheless chose to keep these menus to remember part of his life in WWI France.

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Gathering data from menus in the New York Public Library’s online collection can provide context and information for making comparisons and connections between dining options available in both WWI American and France. It is clear that food conservation efforts in the U.S. were encouraged to win the war in Europe. Americans were discouraged to eat certain foods so that it could be sent overseas to soldiers and allies. This begs the question: Were people in France eating more of the foods that Americans were forced to conserve or give up altogether? For instance, the poster below encouraged Americans to eat less wheat, sugar, fats, and meat, causing one to wonder if people in France were mainly eating these food items that were sent over by there American allies. Perhaps this is an avenue of research one could pursue by contextualizing the menus to find out if the restaurants and hotels were still serving these dishes in the midst of a food crisis and World War.

National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U. S. Food Administration.
National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U. S. Food Administration.

In addition to households, the “Food Will Win the War” campaign also encouraged restaurants and hotels to conserve and serve certain foods.

“In just one week during November 1917, New York City hotels managed to save 96.75 tons of meat. That same November, over 11 million American families signed a pledge to take part in Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays. The volunteer effort paid off, resulting in a 15% reduction in home food consumption during a 12-month period between 1918-1919.”

See the full post

With the help of Dr. Seth Whidden, a French Professor at Villanova, we translated and studied seven menus in Steed’s scrapbooks, organizing most of the items on the menus into seven categories (each one is represented on the Excel graph above). These seven categories—meat and meat dishes, fish and seafood, potatoes, cheese, vegetables, desserts, and offal—are the most important because the U.S. government encouraged citizens to eat less beef and more fish, seafood, or offal and to cut back on using sugar and fats so those items could be sent overseas. As mentioned above, there is potential for researching and finding interesting patterns in the availability of these foods in both France and America.

In addition to the data from Steed’s scrapbook, there is very similar data included from menus held in the New York Library’s “What’s on the Menu” online archive that had similar dining options and were mostly all from hotel establishments like the menus in Steed’s collection. Initially one might think the meat options would be scarce on both the American and French menus, but it seems as though they appeared about the same number of times in each set (not too far behind the number of fish dishes). However, the number of fish and seafood dishes on the American menus is almost triple the amount on the French menus.

Most importantly, the translation/transcription project makes the menus in Steed’s scrapbook more accessible to viewers. The scrapbook volumes as a whole are a rich resource for studying the life of an otherwise obscure person. Steed’s travels and the ways in which he chose to preserve and curate his experience embody the cultural, social, and political climate of his time, allowing historians to use ephemera that we nowadays take for granted–theater tickets, photos, postcards, menus–to ask new research questions about people living, working and fighting during WWI.

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The following process applies to both the American and French menus:

The counted meat dishes include pork, beef, veal, and fowl, and the fish and seafood dishes include fish entrees along with lobster, clams, oysters, and shrimp. Offal dishes include tongue, liver, and tripe dishes. The vegetable category includes individual vegetables that were listed, such as an order of peas or an order of beets, but also vegetable items that were served with a main dish like a steak or fish. The dessert category includes pastries, ice cream, custards, and pies. On some menus, the word dessert was counted as one even though it implies that there was most likely a variety of desserts available but not  listed on the menu.


Series 1: French, Series 2: American


Pictured below is a menu from the Biltmore Hotel, a member of the United States Food Administration.

Hotel Pennsylvania,” New York Public Library.
Hotel Chamberlin,” New York Public Library.
The Biltmore,” New York Public Library.
Hotel Dyckman,” New York Public Library.

Menus in Frank R. Steed’s Scrapbook:

Volume 1:
Menu 63

Volume 2:
Menu 12a
Menu 12b
Menu 16
Menu 24
Menu 70
Menu 105

Menus from NYPL “What’s on the Menu”:

Hotel Chamberlin
Hotel Astor
Hotel Pennsylvania
Hotel Traymore
The Washington Hotel
The Biltmore
Hotel Dyckman

Resources for further research on food in WWI:

Cafer du Plessis, Elizabeth. “Meatless Days AND Sleepless Nights: Food, Agriculture, and Environment in World War I America.” PhD diss., Indiana University, 2009.

Hendee, A., Paul Stahr, Charles Edward Chambers, George Illian, artists. U.S. Food Administration (USFA). Educational Division, Advertising Section, 1917, in NARA’s Still Pictures Records Section. Special Media Archives, College Park, MD.

Horning, Timothy. “Food Will Win the War,” The PhillyHistory Blog: Discoveries from the City Archives. Last modified June 22, 2011. Accessed on November 11, 2015. http://www.phillyhistory.org/blog/index.php/2011/06/food-will-win-the-war/

National Archives and Records Administration. Records of the U. S. Food Administration, Record Group 4.

Penfield, Edward, George Illian, Jack Sheridan, Montgomery Flagg, artists. U.S. Food Administration (USFA). Educational Division, Advertising Section, c.1917 and National War Garden Commission, c.1917. National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Records Section, Special Media Archives: College Park, MD.

Ponder, Stephen, . “Popular Propaganda: The Food Administration in World War I,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 72:3 (1995): 539-550. Accessed November 13, 2015.

Trenholm, Sandra. “Food Conservation during WWI: “Food Will Win the War.” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Last modified on October 16, 2012. Accessed November 12, 2015. http://www.gilderlehrman.org/collections/treasures-from-the-collection/food-conservation-during-wwi-%E2%80%9Cfood-will-win-war%E2%80%9D

“Eating Nose to Tail Meant more Meat for Europe in WWI.” American Food Roots: Features WWI. Last modified December 14, 2014. Accessed November 10, 2015. http://www.americanfoodroots.com/features/eating-nose-tail-meant-meat-europe-wwi/

“Member of United States Food Administration.” ca.1917 – ca.1918. U.S. Food Administration Documents, AG15 Box 8. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. West Branch, Iowa.

“What’s on the Menu.” New York Public Library. Accessed December 4, 2015. http://menus.nypl.org/menus/decade/1910s

Forman’s Travels Through France: Using Postcards to Understand Changing Landscapes

By Brianna M. Quade

The text below describes the process of completing this project. To view, click on the link.

Forman’s Travels Through France

Urban history is an incredible fascinating field of historical research. This field allows historians to understand how cities were constructed and the social, political, and economic systems that influence the construction of the city and urban areas. The focus of this project was to examine how French urban landscape changed, if it did at all, from World War I to the present. Using the postcards of Edward Forman, this project demonstrated the necessity to examine urban landscapes.

Using atavist, a content management system, I used sliders to contrast the Forman postcards with images from Google Maps. Atavist was chosen because it was the easiest to work with. Storymap JS provided similar features as atavist but was more difficult to use sliders. In Storymap, the images had to line up. With atavist, it was simple to show the before and after images of the places Forman send postcards from.

There were very few changes to the buildings in the postcards. It was difficult to locate some images, like Le Pont en X because it was destroyed. There was also no specific address linked to Le Pont. Additionally, Le Palais des Muses et le Pont St-Gorges, Le Gare de l’Ouest-Etat, Portails de la Cathedrale, La Cathedrale, la Caserne de Bon Pastuer, and La Maison de Duguay-Trouin were also difficult to find. La Maison was an image of a street, not a specific building, proved difficult to locate the place. For the others, translating French was difficult. Le Gare, when translated means station, so instead of the proper pronoun, it is just a noun. La Cathedrale and Portails were very general, which led to searching for cathedrals in the cities listed on the postcard.

During the course of the project, translating and pinpointing locations proved to be the biggest challenge. With no background in French or France’s urban landscape, several Google searches were needed with different variations on the names of the locations. It took several looks at not only Google Maps but also at websites to discover if the location was correct. Coming to the conclusion that the places in France were referred to differently than what was listed on the postcard was a significant finding during the project. Some names did not change, but the buildings were used for different things. For example, Caserne St-Georges is now a fire station, but it was difficult to determine if the building was used for a fire station in World War I. Other buildings like Le Palais des Muses et le Pont St-Georges proved to be more difficult. It referred to the building and the bridge. It was important to translate the different words in the phrase in order to know what the location was. Upon successful translation, I discovered Le Palais is now called Musee Des Beaux-Arts de Rennes. The building still looks the same, but the name changed completely. Through this, I was led to question if the building still existed or if the name changed. Luckily, only the name changed. It would have been interesting to see if the entire building was destroyed.

For many of the churches, I questioned why Forman visited them. The churches did not change much, but from the Google Maps images, there was a significant amount of modernization that took place. This was interesting to see. The buildings remained the same but streets were created and cars were everywhere; a telling sign of urbanization.

Atavist was very easy to work with. Some drawbacks include not being able to change the font size or color and customizing the slides or pages. Regardless, atavist allowed me demonstrate my argument and provide evidence.

This project can be expanded by looking more in depth at the history of the buildings in World War I and the present. It would be interesting to examine the specific changes that occurred and community reactions. I would also be interested to research how public transportation changed and if it influenced changes that occurred in France during and after World War I. This project was interesting and engaging. It is my hope that viewers will take away the message that examining the construction of cities and urban areas is important. Specifically, memory impacts how people view cities. I would be interested to see if there are any records of the name changes to buildings or changes to the buildings themselves. How do people remember these structures? Do they remember them at all? Le Theatre ve des Promenades de Jacobins changed dramatically after World War I. From the postcard it is evident the building was stone or concrete. But upon a Google search, the building appears to have glass windows and completely renovated. Why such the big change? Do people remember what the building looked like before? These are the kinds of questions that can be answered by looking at urban areas. And these questions can help to understand how urban areas have transformed and why they have.

The Adventures of Frank Steed: WWI Service Remembered Through Tourism

By Helen Gassman

Frank Steed, an American, traveled through Western Europe from 1918-1919. A theater enthusiast, he attended many famous operas, plays, and ballets. Steed immersed himself in cities like Brussels, Paris, and London, already rich in history in the early 20th century. He collected playbills, ticket stubs, and tour guides and saved them in two scrapbooks to remember his journey. But Frank Steed was not traveling for leisure. He was entangled in the Great War.

Steed, an Army Field Clerk in the US Army, was stationed in France during World War I. He was part of the Casualty Division of the American Expeditionary Forces, which had the primary role of keeping casualty records. Steed’s scrapbooks, however, barely reflect this grim assignment. He saved some documents, memos, and photos that document his wartime experience. However, the better part of what he saved seem like the souvenirs of a tourist. As Steed traveled throughout Western Europe, he saw operas, plays, and silent films, and collected a variety of items – tour guides, postcards, ticket stubs, and public transit maps – that reflected the local culture.

This map tracks some of Frank Steed’s travels for the purpose of tourism. These travels were interpreted by the documents he chose to save in his scrapbook. Not every location connected to one of Steed’s artifacts was mapped. Only mementos dealing with sites of cultural significance were considered. “Sites of cultural significance” were defined as theaters, historic sites, museums, civic buildings, public parks, and architecturally prominent buildings. Steed’s scrapbooks were analyzed for common themes that were able to be accurately and feasibly mapped. Four categories emerged: theaters, Brussels, Paris, and London.

The map is layered so all the points can be viewed at once, or they can be broken down into sections. Select and un-select layers on the sidebar.

Description of Layers

Theaters: View Steed’s travels based on the locations of theaters in England, France, and Belgium that he visited. Click on the points for more information on the show he saw there. Scroll through the photos to view the program pages he included in his scrapbooks.

Tour Guides: Click the points for general information about the three major tour guides that Steed saved in his scrapbooks.

Guide to Bruxelles: See the locations of the major cultural sites of Brussels included in the Anglo-Belge YMCA’s tour guide, which Steed saved and brought back to the States with him in his scrapbooks. Click the points for a brief description of the site and images of the guide pages.

Miniature Paris: Steed kept this small book for his scrapbook, which features 24 illustrations of culturally important Parisian buildings. These included museums, civic buildings, and historic sites. Learn more about the sites and view the illustrations by clicking the points.

Half Day Tours Around London for Men on Leave: Published by the London Underground, this pamphlet suggests tourist destinations and offers directions via public transit. Steed kept this pamphlet in his scrapbook. View the locations of the tours, and click the points for more information on the site and images of the pamphlet.

This map serves as a starting point for further research about the experiences of WWI soldiers who may have also acted as tourists during their time in Europe. It also provokes thought about the relationship between memory and reality. Analyzing and mapping Steed’s tourism travels raises multiple research questions about service, tourism, and memory during WWI.

Key Questions

Was Steed’s experience common?
This map tracks a selection of Steed’s trips in France, Belgium, and England. His scrapbook reflects even wider travels. Why was Steed able to travel so freely? Was this a perk of his position or are there other factors? Why was Steed able to buy opera tickets so frequently? Was he wealthy or did he seek out obscure, inexpensive performances? In fact, most of his playbills are from shows that were enjoying popularity in the early 20th century. Steed seems to have been on trend with the popular culture if his day. Are his travels representative of a significant group or did he have a unique experience?

Why might Steed have saved certain playbills and tour guides?

While there are pages in Steed’s scrapbooks that reflect his service experience, there are many more that document his experiences at theaters, museums, and tourist sites. Why was Steed motivated to save these types of artifacts? Did they elicit the best memories for him? Were playbills and tour guides the most pleasant papers to bring home? Did his scrapbooks develop from a natural process or was he strategic in creating them? There is no way to know the motivations of a person who is long gone, but it is worthwhile to muse about how and why a WWI officer might construct the physical record of their war experiences in a certain way.

What role did cultural events play in how soldiers remembered their experience?
From his scrapbooks, it is evident that Steed spent a good portion of his time in Europe visiting cultural sites. His cultural experiences changed the way he memorialized his wartime experience. In what specific ways might the opportunity to travel, attend shows, and visit cultural sites have impacted Steed’s memory of his general WWI experience? How may his memory have been different if it was devoid of these opportunities?

How closely do Steed’s scrapbooks reflect reality?
It’s hard to say for sure. We know that Steed acquired the Guide to Bruxelles, and that he valued it enough to keep it. However, this is the only evidence the guide provides. There’s no way to know if he actually used the guide. It’s unclear how many of the locations in the guide Steed visited in reality. In the same way, just because Steed kept playbills in his scrapbooks doesn’t mean he saw each play. A friend may have passed them along, or he might have picked them up in his travels without actually attending the shows. Consider how your own scrapbooks, photo albums, personal collections, and social media records may be interpreted in the future. What might a person who has never met you assume about you based on what you have saved?

We may not know with certainty whether Steed visited all the cultural sites represented in his scrapbook. What his scrapbooks do tell us is that, to Steed, these playbills and pamphlets were worth remembering.

(All images used on the map are from Frank Steed’s manuscripts, courtesy of Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library. They have been digitized by the Special Collections staff.)

Mapping the [un]Changing European Cities Through Frank R. Steed’s Scrapbooks

By Sarah Johnson

Frank R. Steed was a U.S. Army Field Clerk and medic during World War I. He was assigned to the Casualty Division of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. During his time spent abroad he compiled a collection of keepsakes that he then placed into two scrapbooks. The materials are not affixed to pages in chronological order, but dates noted range from May 1918 to November 1919.

Found within his scrapbooks are various hotel receipts. Using the receipts, this project set out to examine change in urban space. The plan was to map the hotels in their locations circa 1919, and then overlay a present day map to compare the growth and change of European cities post WWI. What ended up being found, however, was that very little changed; in fact, many of the hotels are still in operation

The More Things Change…

The Waverly Hotel
Stayed February 6, 1919 - No longer standing
YMCA Eagle Hut
Stayed on June 21, 1919 - Now the site of the India High Commision
YMCA St. Andrew Hut
Stayed June 28, 1919
Hotel de la Poste Tilmans
Stayed October 24-26, 1919 - No longer in operation
Central Hotel
Stayed November 3, 1919 - No longer in operation

Frank Steed stayed at The Waverly Hotel in Belfast on February 6, 1919. The Waverly Hotel operated as an affordable lodging option for businessmen and travelers. It is no longer in operation and it is believed that the building no longer exits as well.

On June 21, 1919, Frank Steed traveled to London where he stayed in a temporary YMCA lodging. The Eagle Hut was located at the current site of the India High Commission Building, where there is now a plaque commemorating the temporary structure. The hut served around two million meals from August 1917 to August 1919. It is estimated to have served 3,000 per day, and 4-5,000 on busy days. American pancakes were the most popular items offered, as well as ice cream during the summer.

On June 28, 1919, Frank Steed moved to Edinburgh where he stayed at the YMCA St. Andrew Hut. This temporary location was erected in St. Andrew Square to serve as a lodging and gathering place for military men. It was the second largest YMCA structure to be built during the war, exceeded only by The Eagle Hut.

Although Frank Steed’s receipt does not state the month in which he stayed at this location, it is believed that his stay was from October 24-26, 1919. Hotel de la Poste Tilmans is no longer in operation, and little information can be found on the hotel.

After arriving from Bordeaux, Frank Steed stayed in the Central Hotel on November 3, 1919. The building which once housed the glamorous hotel is now abandoned.

The More They Stay the Same …

Hotel du Pavillon
Stayed February 9, 1919
Hotel du Louvre
Visited on June 21, 1919
Grand Hotel
Stayed August 16-18, 1919
Grand Hotel du Sablon
Stayed October 23, 1919
Hotel de Berri
Stayed November 4-6, 1919
Hotel du Cheval Blanc
Stayed November 7, 1919

Frank Steed stayed at the luxurious Hotel du Pavillon on February 9, 1919. The hotel is still operating today, under the same name, as a four star hotel in the heart of Paris’ tourist district.

Although Frank Steed did not stay overnight in the luxurious Grand Hôtel du Louvre, he stopped to have lunch on June 21, 1919. Today part of the Grand Hôtel du Louvre has been converted into shops, while the other half operates as simply the Hôtel du Louvre.

Steed stayed at the Grand Hotel from August 16-18, 1919. His receipt indicates that he enjoyed chocolate and lunch during his stay. The hotel is still operating today under the name Vichy Residencia.

On October 23, 1919, Frank Steed stayed one night in the Grand Hotel du Sablon which he noted was a “charming little hotel with an equally charming proprietor.” His receipt lists his stay, along with a lunch to go, and a piece of bread. The hotel is still in operation, under the same name, today.

Frank Steed stayed at the Hôtel de Berri from November 4-6, 1919. His receipt lists his room cost, as well as the cost of chocolate each night and bread on his last night. The Hôtel de Berri is still operating, however, it is now called Hotel Daniel.

On November 7, 1919 Frank Steed stayed at the Hotel de Cheval Blanc. At the time the hotel was operating as an annex to the YMCA’s Hotel Moderne, as noted in Steed’s scrapbook. Today, the hotel is still in operation under the same name

The Changing Cost…

In 1919, the American dollar was worth 7.3090 Old French Francs. The inflated worth of the dollar in France may have enabled Frank Steed to stay in hotels he would not have normally been able to afford. Below is a chart outlining the cost of a few of the hotels Frank Steed stayed at compared to the American dollar in 1919 and to what they would cost today.

Hotel: Price per room in francs in 1919: Price per room in U.S. dollar in 1919: Price per room today*:
Grand Hotel du Sablon 6 Franc $0.82 $213.00
Hotel de Berri (Daniel) 5 Franc $0.68 $378.00
Hotel du Cheval Blanc 3 Franc $0.41 $73.00
Hotel du Pavillon 2.50 Franc $0.34 $81.00

*cost in American Dollar ($) per each hotel’s current website

The not found…

YMCA Anvers
Stayed October 26, 1919 - unable to locate (Photo courtesy of Falvey Memorial Library)
Hotel - Pension Britannique
Stayed October 28-30, 1919 - unable to locate (Photo courtesy of Falvey Memorial Library)

Two of Frank Steed’s lodgings remain lost. His collection of receipts place him at the YMCA Anvers on October 26, 1919, yet a thorough search for WWI YMCA locations in Anvers, Atwerp, Belgium were unsuccessful. It is possible that there was a hotel accepting YMCA vouchers, much like the Hotel du Cheval-Blanc, as no temporary YMCA location is reported to have been erected in this area.

The second location that cannot be mapped is the Hotel Pension-Britannique. Known to be located in Ostende, Belgium, the street names listed on the receipt no longer exist within the city, leaving its exact location a mystery.

Frank Steed brought home with him keepsakes from his wartime travels in order to commemorate his time spent in the military and at war. He placed them within two scrapbooks so that he can look upon the time in his life, well after he returned to the life of a civilian. The scrapbooks were meant to be memory collectors that marked a time in Steed’s life after he moved beyond it.

In the same way, cities throughout Europe erected monuments commemorating the Great War, but they too moved on with their lives. Citizens continued to live, businesses continued to operate, and many Steed’s hotels continued to stand.

Bibliography and Works Cited:

Bang, Laura. “Blue Electrode: Sparking between Silicon and Paper.” Falvey Memorial Library: Villanova University. June 29, 2013. Accessed December 2015. http://blog.library.villanova.edu/digitallibrary/2013/06/29/frank-r-steed-in-wwi-paris/.

Edinburgh, The University of. 2015. Scotland’s War. Accessed December 2015. http://www.edinburghs-war.ed.ac.uk/Midlothian/Home-Front-Veterans/American-Hut.

Moncrieff, Ascott Robert Hope. 1904. Black’s Guide to Sommerset. Edinburgh: R&R Clarke Limited.

Stuart. 2012. Great War London: London and Londoners in the First World War. November 21. Accessed December 2015. https://greatwarlondon.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/the-eagle-hut/.


Ascott Robert Hope Moncrieff, Black’s Guide to Sommerset, (Edinburgh: R&R Clarke Limited:1904) advertisement, pg. 5.

Stuart, Great War London: London and Londoners in the First World War, November 21, 2012, accessed December 2015, https://greatwarlondon.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/the-eagle-hut/.

The University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s War, 2015, accessed December 2015, http://www.edinburghs-war.ed.ac.uk/Midlothian/Home-Front-Veterans/American-Hut.

Laura Bang, “Blue Electrode: Sparking between Silicon and Paper,” Falvey Memorial Library: Villanova University, June 29, 2013, Accessed December 2015. http://blog.library.villanova.edu/digitallibrary/2013/06/29/frank-r-steed-in-wwi-paris/.

The Red Cross Nurse as a Maker of Propaganda

By Ann Shipley

She was brave. She was motherly yet girlish. She was sensitive and dutiful. She was adventurous yet maintained her femininity. She was a Red Cross Volunteer Nurse.

Christmas Poster
"Have you answered the Red Cross Christmas Roll Call?" Picturing a soft and caring female volunteer
The Spirit of America
A youthful woman whose purity shines as much as her patriotism
The Greatest Mother
Volunteers were often portrayed as motherly and affectionate. Here, a matronly woman poses similarly to the Virgin Mary
Motherless, Fatherless, Starving
Many posters tugged at the heartstrings of American citizens. Here a ARC volunteers looks down upon French children with affection and also pity
Image from: http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/almaclarke/id/178
A Page from Alma Clarke’s English Scrapbook Courtesy of Bryn Mawr Library

The American Red Cross (ARC) was largely untested as an organization on the eve of World War I. While the charitable group was founded several decades earlier in 1881, the massive scale and need of WWI challenged volunteers and their finances. An estimated one fifth of American households volunteered or were members of the ARC.[1] Many woman who traveled abroad, typically to France, wrote about their experiences in diaries, letters, and books. Some collected pictures, postcards, and mementos in scrapbooks. Comparing the two scrapbooks of Alma Clarke, a ARC Auxiliary Nurse stationed in France, to propaganda posters specifically from the Red Cross, one can begin to see similarities in how nurses positioned themselves to mimic vastly circulated Red Cross posters and vice versa. Clarke’s scrapbooks can be used to see the influences of propaganda and these can in turn be viewed as pieces of propaganda itself. Several pages even integrate propaganda posters alongside photographs as if to say they were the same thing. Clarke tailored her experience and memories of her time in France into digestible and familiar images for herself and her audience, therefore upholding the popular views and accepted experiences of the Great War.

[1] Lettie Gavin, American Women in World War I (Niwot: University of Colorado Press, 1997), 180.

From her photographs and information available about Alma Clarke, her experience in France is representative of the average nurse. She includes pictures of where she worked, the wards for different groups, nurse class photos, and letters from home and patients in her scrapbooks. Choosing to analyze her scrapbooks and life allows us as historians to take a single case and see where wartime sentiments influence her choices and experience. Clarke’s work as an ARC nurse was critically important to the lives of many soldiers and now her work serves as a foundational point for wider views on the presentation of memories concerning World War I. When we compare her scrapbook to propaganda images circulated by the Red Cross found on ww1propaganda.com we begin to see parallels between the images collected by Clarke and these popular pictures. Going throughout this page, you will see sliders to compare these images side-by-side to illustrate how Clarke arranged her scrapbook to draw on popular themes and her work can be seen as a form of propaganda within itself.

Image from: http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/almaclarke/id/178
One of the first pages from Clarke’s English Scrapbook

Clarke’s inclusion of a print artfully featured at the beginning of her scrapbook already tells the reader that this book is not about the war but is about her humanitarian work. Here, the work of the nurses is presented as angelic and unassuming in their defense of life and mankind. Already Clarke’s scrapbooks follow a common pattern where nurses are not instructed to talk about and interact with the war, only the side effects and their work alongside the fighting.[2] The image of the nurse-heroine was an extremely popular trait and many nurses attempted to portray themselves as one, “even though they realized that it too distorted the reality of their professional contribution to the war.”[3] Clarke’s inclusion of images of nurses as “heroines of humanity” indicates that she saw her work in a similar light.

[2] Christine Hallett, Veiled Warriors: Allied Nurses of the First World War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 3.

[3] Hallett, Veiled Warriors, 4.

Approaching propaganda is unique and can be analyzed in several different ways including using psychological, artistic, and historical methodologies. When we narrow down the scope to just Red Cross nursing images, several themes are commonly underlined. The courageous yet mistreated volunteer, the romantic nurse, and the nurse heroine are the main there kinds of nurses seen in prints and fiction.[4] Famous magazine illustrators and artists drew propaganda posters and Red Cross posters were often visually appealing.[5] The women depicted were familiar, naturally pretty, and could be anyone you knew. Posters were commissioned to recruit, raise funds, and change behaviors; they were meant to integrate themselves into all aspects of American life.[6]

[4] Hallett, Veiled Warriors, 2.

[5] Celia Kingsbury, For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), 8.

[6] Kingsbury, For Home and Country, 8.

Women were both targets and subjects of these posters but their work was centrally focused around morality.[7] The housewife was meant to protect and support her family and husband—who should be out fighting because she made it possible for him to do so. Propaganda made it so that women could be supporting the men in her life by supporting her country.[8] While the war and nursing allowed women more opportunities within the public sphere, she never left her domestic role as caregiver and supporter. Throughout Clarke’s scrapbooks, we see images of the domestically focused nurse.

[7] Kingsbury, For Home and Country, 10.

[8] Kingsbury, For Home and Country, 65.

Image from: http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/almaclarke/id/178
A group photo of Clarke’s nursing coworkers from her scrapbook

Stories were also a major aspect of propaganda. Again, popular patterns of nurses as “Angels of the Battlefield” continue to position women as supporters of men and country instead of part of the fighting. War was not meant to turn women into men, quite the contrary. Nursing uniforms were meant to be neat and attractive to maintain the femininity of volunteers.[9] The ARC uniforms of pure white with a smart cap were noted for being “pretty.”[10] Women were involved in the war effort but they weren’t to become masculine; “if women die in their roles as nurses, ambulance drivers, or canteen workers, they must do so in a well-cut blouse.”[11] We can see the effects of the desire to remain pretty in Clarke’s scrapbooks as nurses appear neat and attractive while on duty. Snapshots and group photographs capture the feminine but modest uniform these women wore with pride. Their tidy and put together appearance helps to wash over any trauma they may have witnessed and gives the viewer an appearance of a world where harmony is achieved.

[9] Kingsbury, For Home and Country, 104-5.

[10] Kingsbury, For Home and Country, 104.

[11] Kingsbury, For Home and Country, 103.

One has to remember that propaganda is never neutral; its point is to make individuals do or change something in their lives for a certain purpose. The Red Cross was and is a technically neutral organization. However, the American Red Cross ceased their neutrality when the United States entered the war. Wilson formed a special arm of the war council to take over and efficiently run the ARC. Positions that women previously held on the board of the organization were “relegated to an advisory committee” to make room for an all male board.[12] Women across the ARC struggled to gain professional recognition for their nursing, yet there is no record of dissent from female officials on their removal from leadership positions. Many likely felt upset at being brushed aside, but causing problems was not part of Red Cross role; they were meant to fix things with a smile.

Here a single nurse is responsible for the life/death of a soldier in the trenches
If I Fail He Dies
The contribution of the individual means survival for the masses
The Comforter
Alone, this nurse is responsible for comforting all victims of war
We Need You
A heavenly specter instructs a young woman that it is her efforts that will mean life for the injured
Hold Up Your End!
Here it takes a team of nurses to relief war victims, but the actions of the viewer are presented at vital to success
A Red Cross Poster emphasizing the humanitarian nature of nursing

The most common “kind” of nurse we see in Clarke’s scrapbooks is the nurse heroine. This is a woman who selflessly serves and fulfills her duty to humanity and her country with a face of compassion. It is understandable why anyone would be drawn to emulate this character; she is the embodiment of goodness. Both professional and volunteer nursing presented an opportunity for women to “prove their worth—to have their work recognized and their professionalism valued.”[13] The women shown in Clarke’s photographs and mementos certainly present themselves as professionals and a necessity for the war effort. Nurses fought for the lives of their patients and the safe environments that were necessary for care.[14] We see the clean rooms and comfort of patients throughout Clarke’s scrapbooks, indicating to the viewer that she took pride in her fight for the soldier’s survival.

[12] Gavin, American Women in World War I, 181.

[13] Hallett, Veiled Warriors, 255.

[14] Christine Hallett, Containing Trauma: Nursing Work in the First World War (New York: Manchester University Press, 2009), 119.

There are an alarming number of similarities between Clarke’s creation of her scrapbooks and the creation of this digital project. One can imagine Clarke just copying and pasting pictures in her book as they developed and arranging pictures aesthetically, not even thinking about how the overall page and book will be interpreted. It is easy to just pick photographs at random and put them together because they look nice together. However, when dealing with propaganda posters and the personal scrapbooks of an ARC nurse, intention is necessary.

In this project, choosing the images had to be done with intention and decisions had to be firmly made. The images were chosen because of their similarities and because they spoke about Clarke’s presented experience in the war–what she though was important to preserve. Finding the slider tool to compare these images was essential and the tool from Juxtapose JS proved simple and easy to use. It helped to perfectly illustrate the parallels between national propaganda sentiments and an individual’s feelings towards what should be presented.

Clarke’s scrapbooks are a unique preservation of memory and one woman’s presentation of her wartime work. Placing it within its historical context showed the overlaps between nationally circulated images and the ones Clarke chose to preserve. Bringing this project to its digital form was a long experience as I was reminded that digital projects always—always—take longer than you think they will. I feel like the trainee nurses, ready to don my cap and white uniform, and feel that for a moment my individual contributions can be worth sometime.



“English WWI Scrapbook.” Alma A. Clarke Papers. Accessed November 18, 2015. http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/almaclarke/id/178

“French WWI Scrapbook.” Alma A. Clarke Papers. Accessed November 18, 2015. http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/almaclarke/id/450

Red Cross Posters from: www.ww1propaganda.com

Secondary Sources

“World War I and the American Red Cross.” American Red Cross. Accessed November 18, 2015. http://www.redcross.org/about-us/history/red-cross-american-history/WWI.

Gavin, Lettie. American Women in the World War. Niwot: University of Colorado Press, 1997.

Hallett, Christine E. Containing Trauma: Nursing Work in the First World War. New York: Manchester University Press, 2009.

Hallett, Christine E. Veiled Warriors: Allied Nurses of the First World War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Kingsbury, Celia Malone. For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010.

Todd, Lisa M. “The Hun and the Home: Gender, Sexuality and Propaganda in First World War Europe.” In World War I and Propaganda, edited by Troy R.E. Paddock, 137-154. Boston: Brill Publishers, 2014.

An Infantryman’s Journey Through WWI: Edward Forman’s Postcard Collection

By Michaela Smith

Possibly Edward D. Forman. Sourced from Falvey Memorial Library's Digital Library.
Possibly Edward D. Forman. Sourced from Falvey Memorial Library’s Digital Library.

Edward/Mae Having outlined the beginnings of this digital project, some background about Edward Forman is due. Edward Forman was an AEF (American Expeditionary Force) Infantryman deployed with the 29th Division 116th Infantry. Very little is known about Forman’s duties while he was deployed, even with access to his postcards, but this is likely due to censorship regulations surrounding mail leaving army bases during WWI. Unfortunately searching for more information on Forman and his duties didn’t yield any results. What is known, however, is that Forman was writing to Mae Kaiser his sweetheart at the time who lived in Brooklyn, New York. Forman would go on to marry Mae Kaiser after the war.¹

All of the data comes from Edward Forman’s postcard collection. This is worth noting because the original plan had been to potentially explore other scrapbooks in Villanova or Bryn Mawr’s digital collections. But this ended up not being the case as the information in Forman’s collection was more than enough for this digital project.


The postcards themselves are quite straightforward with the collection containing fifty postcards in total. There are thirty four with writing, sixteen without, and one blank postcard with a hand-drawn drawing. Out of the fifty postcards, all but one made the timeline below. The postcard that did not make the timeline was excluded because it had neither a date nor an approximate or definite location on it, and as a result, it couldn’t be placed on the timeline or the map.

The excluded postcard. Sourced from Falvey Memorial Library's Digital Library.
The excluded postcard. Sourced from Falvey Memorial Library’s Digital Library.

There are also a few postcards from Washington, Alabama, and the Carolinas. Similarly, while most of the postcards are written from Ed to Mae and there are none written by Mae to Ed, there is one postcard that was written to Ed by a Tom E. Mannes. There was no further information that could be found on or about Mr. Mannes.

When it came to interpreting and understanding the French titles and etcetera on the postcards in the collection, Google Translate was used as the main source for translations. This proved to be a useful tool in that it translated the postcard titles and any other French on them without requiring much in-depth research. The other tools used in the creation of this project are outlined below.

Timeline JS

Creating a timeline with Timeline JS was a fairly approachable task. Initially a timemap (map and timeline combined in one visual) was going to be created as a visual to highlight Forman’s travels via Timemapper. But after running into issues with getting the map portion to function properly, a last minute move to Timeline JS was made. To put together a timeline with Timeline JS, an excel sheet had to be created that listed the title, date, description, image link, credit for any images, and the headlining text for each entry on the timeline. Once this spreadsheet was uploaded to timeline JS, it was just a matter of working with the embedding code to get it to display properly on WordPress.

*Note: Postcards that did not have a date, but that had an identifiable location were given the dates associated with postcards from the same area so as to best cohesively show Ed’s travels. That said, there are eight postcards at the beginning of the timeline that do not have dates. These were included in the timeline because they are still relevant to Ed’s experience.

The one decision that really shaped the way this part of the project developed was the change from making a timemap and choosing to make a timeline and map separately. The timemap would have allowed for the map and timeline to be interacted with simultaneously and side by side in the same frame whereas they are now separate and the relationship between map and timeline isn’t as seamless as it could have been. As a result, the feeling of following Forman on his journey is lost.

Google My Map

Creating my map with Google My Maps was very straight forward and easy to do. After having decided that creating a timemap wouldn’t be a feasible option, Google My Maps was chosen as a map replacement. To create the points on the map the location was entered into a search bar on the map itself, and then once it was located, the points were entered in separately by hand. Once all the points were added and in the right places, all that was left was to customize the colors and style of the map and then, like with Timeline JS, embed it on the page.

*Note: All red markers indicate at least one postcard. If there are markers of any other color near a red marker they represent another postcard in the cluster. It is also best to zoom in to see the clusters clearly on the map.

One decision that might have changed the way the map works with the timeline is whether or not lines between each of the points had been included on the map as a way of illustrating where Forman had travelled and when. But because the exact movements of Forman’s unit couldn’t be discerned from the information available from Forman’s postcards to Mae, the decision was made to leave the lines out so as not to accidentally muddle the presentation of the data.


As for organizing the data, the decision was made to order the postcards chronologically on the timeline because it was the best (and only) real way to capture the extent and locations of Edward Forman’s journey as a whole.  Also rather than imposing any questions on the data, the project tried to let the data guide the understanding  of Forman’s travels rather than trying to search for any one specific answer.

Overall one of the biggest obstacles faced when trying to create this project was not issues with Timemapper/Timeline JS or any of the choices made regarding data presentation. It was figuring out how to make sure the project was viable. As it would turn out, the postcards themselves didn’t have any identifiable postmarks on them. They had postmarks on them, but they were either from New York or from a generic Army mailroom. Which created the issue of figuring out how to track Forman’s travels accurately.  Because without verifiable postmarks  on the postcards there was no real way to tell where Forman was when he was sending or receiving the occasional postcard. But then as the data was being compiled, two things became apparent.

First, it was noted that the front of many of the postcards had pictures of the locations where Forman was sending them from, and that this was often confirmed by many of his messages to Mae on the back. Sometimes, Forman’s messages on the back were the only way to get an approximate location and were relied on heavily in order to get the clearest picture possible. The next discovery was that many of the postcards were in clusters, potentially revealing how long Forman was in a certain area and where he was when he sent them. As a result, these observations were used in order to take on a slightly modified approach and produce the project as it is now.

Research Methods

The research methods for this project were fairly simple. The idea was straightforward in that the project sought to study the postcards and the idea of seeing where Forman went throughout his deployment in order to gain a stronger understanding of his WWI experience. In order to attempt to best explore those initial thoughts the following questions were generated:

  • How often did Mr. Forman travel, and where did he travel? How close to one another were the locations?
  • What was the experience abroad like?

As it turns out, the information gathered from Forman’s postcard collection wasn’t enough to answer both questions concretely. There was enough data to answer the first question above fairly well while the second question remained almost unanswerable. As a result, the data was left to speak for itself using the clusters and the front of the postcards to inform the understanding of Forman’s journey through out the War.


Based on the questions: how often did Mr. Forman travel, and where did he travel? How close to one another were the locations? The data combined between the map and the timeline allowed for an answer to be attempted.

As for how often Forman traveled during his time in Europe, it seems like it was a fairly frequent interval as one might expect when looking at the movements of an Army infantryman. Similarly, it looks like on a few occasions there were towns like Bourges, Le Mans, or Rennes where his regiment might have had longer stop overs. For example, based on some rough estimates based on the dates on the postcards, Forman spent about a month or so in Bourges, before moving on to the city of Le Havre.

Though this could also be due to the fact that it appears that Forman sent a few postcards at a time, or multiple a day, which could skew the data and indicate that he spent more time in one place than he actually had. It also became clear that Forman visited the following cities in Europe: Bourges, Dinard, France, Le Havre, Le Mans, Mont Saint Michel, Rennes, Saint Malo, and Tours.  And that while he was in the states he visited: Anniston Alabama, Washington DC, Greenville SC, and Monroe NC.

Distance was a bit more difficult to measure by the postcards alone, but using the ruler tool on Google My Maps a rough estimate was made to determine that Forman traveled about 10,000 miles during his whole deployment. This is a very rough estimate that includes two trips (to and from) France and then about five hundred miles or so while he was in France. This is less than was originally anticipated for his time in Europe, but with everything being much closer together than is typical in the US, it makes sense that his mileage is lower. When looking at the map it is easy to see just how close French towns really are to one another.

It also became apparent that Forman might have made his way north towards the coast and then potentially back down again depending on the full length of his deployment and his true movements. It does seem possible considering that Le Havre is one of the main ports for ships entering and leaving France, and if he did end up making a few trips from the United States to France, as Forman’s postcards do suggest, it is possible that he was entering and leaving through the port at Le Havre.

After having spent a significant amount of time with Forman’s postcards, it also became apparent that for Forman and his sweetheart Mae postcards were likely one of the only and best ways to truly stay connected to one another. More specifically, during the War the censorship efforts of all parties involved was quite strong. In fact, on a few of Forman’s postcards there appears to be writing in pencil that is not Forman’s and looks to be approving the contents of the letters.

Another potential perk of using postcards versus writing letters or any other form of communication for Forman is that in choosing a postcard with something related to where he was staying, he could share that information with Mae without directly having to tell her so. And in not specifically mentioning where he was and what he was doing, Forman didn’t necessarily have to worry about anything being removed by those in charge of censorship since his messages themselves were free of any detail and often brief. The fact that Forman elected to write such short messages could be indicative of the level with which personal letters were censored, or simply suggest that Forman’s time abroad didn’t lend him much free time outside of the time he spent writing to Mae.

Lastly, it is hard to say whether or not Forman had ever anticipated these postcards to survive to this day or for Mae to save them in the first place. But because they did survive, they probably allowed Forman and possibly Mae to remember his WWI experience in quite a unique way. Particularly in that unlike a scrapbook, that can have headlines that remember more downtrodden times during the war, Forman was able to focus on what were likely very happy moments during the War. Because although the postcards don’t reveal anything groundbreaking about the War or his regiment, they remember a very personal aspect of Forman’s time abroad. Which is rather unusual considering many scrapbooks and other media remembering the War focus more on the war itself at large, rather than one particular moment.


Although the scope of this project is really quite small and gave only a glimpse into the life of a WWI soldier, it draws attention to the fact that these experiences still matter even after all these years. Small pieces of a US infantryman’s life hold the potential to teach historians and the public alike many new things. For example, Forman’s postcard collection sheds light on the fact that not every waking moment of a soldiers life was action oriented, along with the fact that they likely did find time to enjoy the cities they saw (particularly that late in the War. It was also somewhat surprising to see just how much one small collection of postcards could reveal when someone takes the time to sit down and apply them to a more visual approach.

Overall the project was successful in offering both a learning opportunity concerning digital tools, and what they can and cannot do. But it also was quite a satisfying, intriguing, and humbling experience to sit down with one small corner of history to see what it had to say.


¹ Falvey Memorial Library Digital Library. “Collection of postcards from Edward D. Forman.” http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Collection/vudl:336023.

Touring Memory at the American Red Cross Military Hospital No. 1

Military Hospital No. 1, Neuilly-sur-Seine

By Rachel Batch

Auxiliary nurse Alma Clarke began her service at the American Red Cross Military Hospital No. 1, located just outside of Paris, at Neuilly-sur-Seine, on November 4, 1918. Alma’s work was in Ward 319 of Military Hospital No. 1, which was one of eight hospitals in and near Paris during the Great War, and among the 24 hospitals the Red Cross operated in France. Begin a tour of her memories by seeking the six highlighted areas in the following photograph of the hospital, formerly a school, the Lycée Pasteur…


A page from Alma’s scrapbook

In a scrapbook Alma collected artifacts for remembering her work. Photographs of the hospital’s exterior grandeur, its interior wards occupied by wounded French and American soldiers, and group portraits of nursing staff convey a sense of her pride at the accomplishments of this crucial and complex organization — simultaneously connected to the western front by ambulance drivers, and connected to the home front by its staff of medical volunteers and financial donations. Explore Alma’s memories of the hospital’s interior wards by seeking eight highlighted areas in the photograph of the hospital’s courtyard

A sketch of Alma Clarke
A sketch of Alma Clarke


Alma Clarke preserved her memories of Hospital No. 1 while she cared for her patients. She shared blank pages of her scrapbook with those wounded soldiers, several of whom added poems, sketches, and notes about themselves. Sometimes humorous, sometimes chilling, these contributions add to her own collected memories, and through them, we might “see Alma.”


Explore what Alma intended never to forget by seeking the five highlighted areas of the image below.


About Touring Memory at the American Red Cross Military Hospital No. 1

This interactive digital project incorporates several forms of historical evidence (photographs, handwritten notes, memoir, songs) to “tour memory” at an American Red Cross military hospital located in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris, France, and during the Great War’s years. Today’s visitors to the hospital (via this project) can explore the work of the hospital, enter its interior wards, and perhaps meet a volunteer nurse, Alma Clarke, who compiled in a scrapbook these memories we are touring.

Alma Clarke was an auxiliary nurse for the American Red Cross during WWI and arrived at Military Hospital No. 1 seven days before Armistice. During her service and care to the patients at the hospital she kept a scrapbook and from which all photographs, sketches, and handwritten notes in this digital project come. In it, she included few images of herself. We might guess that she choose to collect memories of her role in the hospital as but one of many more volunteers – medical and enlisted personnel – and as part of a complex organization in the war effort, and certainly to heal. We might also guess that she wanted to remember as many details of the hospital as she could (as seen in her scrapbook’s multiple photographs captioned in her own hand), about her service among the nursing staff and surgeons, and about those many soldiers she met as patients. Visitors to “Touring Memory” can find in three large images (image maps) many more memories. By selecting the highlighted areas in each, we can progressively dive deeper into how Alma Clarke represented her memories (how she choose to remember) and with them, remember the work at Military Hospital No. 1.

The first image map, “Tour and Explore Alma’s Collected Memories,” suggests how a visitor might be impressed by the site of the hospital, the Lycée Pasteur, and its grand exterior (perhaps just as Clarke herself was impressed in 1918.) In the photograph are six highlighted areas, the hospital’s designated entrances, to begin an exploration of the medical work of war. Supplementing the photographs taken from the scrapbook are other visitors’ contemporaneous accounts: from a surgeon, visiting nurses, an observer who wrote about Red Cross activities in France, at Hospital No. 1 and its ambulance service. It is doubtful Alma knew these people (their time at the hospital preceded hers), however their accounts help to narrate, through memory, the hospital’s organization and its care for the wounded.

Next, the image map, “Explore the Interior of Military Hospital No. 1,” pictures the hospital’s inner courtyard (in it are eight images), so that we may enter several interior wards and see the daily functioning of the hospital, its order and cleanliness, recuperating soldiers, and the corridors and rooms that volunteers like Alma walked in and worked in. Placement of the highlighted areas, such as the “Boston Ward” or the “Jaw Ward,” does not always designate the historically accurate locations of the interior views. Instead, locations were approximated based on Alma’s handwritten captions (“second floor corridor” – but which wing of the hospital?), by using the size of the windows, or other visual information contained in the photograph, e.g., what can be seen through the windows or the interior structure of the room. The “evacuation ward” and the locations of the courtyard and where the ambulances were parked are accurately located in the image maps.

The final image map, “Seeing Alma,” attempts to create a reflection of her through the handwritten notes of others – particularly those patients she cared for. She asked patients at the hospital to record in her scrapbook their name and rank, where they were wounded, and how. A sampling of these notes can be found in the final large image, an illustration from Clarke’s scrapbook of a Red Cross nurse protecting a wounded soldier from death. “Touring Memory” includes only two images of Alma – a blurry photograph and a sketch – to encourage exploration of what Alma wished to remember in her scrapbook, and to encourage a “visitor” to Alma’s memories to “see” her, as did her patients in 1918.

Taken as a whole, “Touring Memory” reveals layers of memories to investigate space, place, and the act of remembering. The first layer reveals a social history of the medical work of war at Military Hospital No. 1. Who performed this work? How was it accomplished? We may gain a sense of the hospital’s wards and workings, as well as its specialization, such as attending to facial injuries in the “Jaw Ward,” but we do not see all work, like those who mopped the floors or cooked patients’ meals. A second layer of investigation encourages visitors to think about how Alma Clarke’s scrapbook is a credible, “insider’s” view (Alma’s), yet we are exploring collected memories: selected, subjective, and of what she wished to remember (or what artifacts she had available to remember.) Similarly, “Touring Memory” contains only 27 selected images from her scrapbook’s 178 digital pages. While the images taken from it are representative of its contents (photographs, sketches, handwritten notes), its layers of meaning designed here for a “visitor” to explore and “tour” are certainly not all that might be gained from Alma Clarke’s preserved recollections. Thus, a third layer of memory is this project’s own reconstruction of remembering a hospital’s crucial work during World War I.


All images – photographs, handwritten notes, sketches – are reproduced from Alma Clarke’s “English WWI Scrapbook,” preserved in its original form and available digitally at Bryn Mawr College. Courtesy of Bryn Mawr College Special Collections.

“More memory” – in the form of typed excerpts – was drawn from three memoirs and published reports written by visitors and volunteers at Military Hospital No. 1 during the years 1914-1919. The complete accounts are available digitally from the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Digital Collections, Archive.org, and JSTOR:

Church, James Robb. The Doctor’s Part: What Happens to the Wounded in War. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1918. http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/bookviewer?PID=nlm:nlmuid-14130360R-bk

Dock, Lavinia, et.al. History of American Red Cross Nursing. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1922. https://archive.org/details/historyofamerica00dock

Hungerford, Edward. With the Doughboy in France: A Few Chapters of an American Effort. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1920. http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/bookviewer?PID=nlm:nlmuid-01110540R-bk

Judd, James R. With the American Ambulance in France. Honolulu: Star-Bulletin Press, 1919. http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/bookviewer?PID=nlm:nlmuid-01120180R-bk

K. K. and M.E.H. “Experiences in the American Ambulance Hospital, Neuilly, France,” The American Journal of Nursing 15, no. 7 (April 1915): 549-554. https://archive.org/details/jstor-3404888

Two WWI-era songs, “Au Revoir but Not Goodbye” and “Oui Oui Marie,” are courtesy of “Popular Songs of WWI.” USCB Cylinder Audio Archive. University of California Santa Barbara Library.

Visitors to “Touring Memory” may also be interested in another on-line project, “Home Before the Leaves Fall, The Great War 1914-1918,” and specifically its page about Alma Clarke’s scrapbook. Several digital articles relevant to understanding subjects and sources used in “Touring Memory” include American Red Cross activities in France, WWI photography, and a history of scrapbooking, all available as part of Villanova University Falvey Library’s “Remembering World War I.”

Acknowledgements: Thank you, Professor Deb Boyer, for being able to imagine my envisioning of a “tour” and your suggestions of helpful digital tools to do so. At Villanova’s Falvey Library thanks go to David Uspal for finding hidden code (and deleting it) and Laura Bang for teaching me care in the digital preservation of archival materials. Final thanks are to all graduate students in Fall 2015’s “Digital History” course for their semester-long collaboration and creativity.

Alma’s Orphans: Mapping Relief Efforts for French and Belgian Children in WWI

By Elizabeth M. Motich

“Untitled Image of French Orphans and Nun,” Alma A. Clarke French World War I Scrapbook, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections

Alma A. Clarke was passionate about children’s welfare. As a volunteer nurse working on behalf of the American Red Cross and partnering with the The Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Children of the Frontier, a wartime relief agency dedicated to helping orphaned/single caregiver children from devastated areas, Clarke did everything she could to assist her adopted country. Clarke played an integral role in caring for children at the largest “orphans’ colony,” the Colony Franco-Americain du Chateau de la Coeur at Cheille, Indre-et-Loire. Her care and consideration was evident from the dozens of scrapbook images of orphanages and the enormous Child Welfare Exposition, held in Lyons, France in 1918. Many of these images are shown within the map below.

The Franco-American Committee’s official report demonstrates the amazing work the organization accomplished in rehabilitating children’s lives. Children were evacuated from hideously devastated areas like the Somme, Lille, Presles, Aisne, Charleville, Ypres, and Poperinge by “camion” truck and transported to railroad depots such as the Gare du Nord and Gare d’Orsay. From that point, they were housed in locations like Touraine and Tarn. The Franco-American Committee sometimes wrote about individual children’s experiences in their report. They stated about the general welfare of the children:

“They are all frightened and homeless, many of them ill from shock and exposure. One little boy of 3 was so shattered that he did not speak for three months after his arrival; but in most cases a few weeks restored the confidence of the child.”

Therefore, simply being transported to the countryside and and receiving proper care benefited many children. Research indicated that the orphanages were spread out throughout multiple destinations, most of which were either in Paris or in rural areas east of the Front. The farthest destination was Lacaune-Les-Bains, Tarn, which is at the extreme Southern tip of France and is mentioned in Clarke’s scrapbook as a destination the Gare d’Orsay photo.  Many of the Franco-American Committee’s orphanages were Catholic charities run by nuns and priests (described in the Franco-American Committee report as an “alliance with Sisters and Fathers”). This is also evident from many of Clarke’s photos which show Sisters of Charity caring for the children. At the orphanages and colonies, children lived comfortably and were taught a rigorous curriculum, consisting of domestic skills like lacemaking for girls, and carpentry, cobbling, and agricultural training for boys.

While little background information could be obtained about the children following the war, it is clear that without the remarkable work of these relief organizations and volunteers like Alma A. Clarke, many children would have perished or led bitterly scarred lives. This map in 3 parts documents the relief committees’ legacies, shows the 3,000 miles it took for relief workers like Clarke to travel from the agency’s New York headquarters to France, and most importantly, demonstrates the impact of the war on France and Belgium’s children.

Please zoom in to view individual locations and layers on the map.


Screenshot 2015-12-14 at 10.02.35 AM

Layer 1: French Relief

The beige colored school building icons represent orphanages where children were housed under supervision of the American Red Cross or the Franco-American Committee for the Children of the Frontier. Most of the orphanage names are listed in Clarke’s French scrapbook. If you click on the icons of orphanages, you may view pictures of the orphans’ colonies and the children who were housed there.

Also included in this layer are two train stations, the Gare du Nord and Gare d’Orsay, showing routes of children’s travel from the scrapbook. The most important element of this layer is the locations from France and Belgium where children were rescued, represented by the yellow child icons which were mentioned either in Clarke’s scrapbook, or the Franco-American Committee report. A line on the map reflects the travel patterns of some of the children and their routes from the railroad stations to the orphanages. Unfortunately, exact and complete numbers on how many children were evacuated could not be located, but the Franco-American Committee estimated that by December 1, 1917, 1,365 children were in their care and it can be surmised that these masses of children traveled along several routes to reach their new temporary homes.

Additionally, this layer features several blue icons representing the Red Cross Headquarters in Paris, Clarke’s residence during the Child Welfare Exposition, and the huge relief fair, Child Welfare Exposition of April 1918 in Lyons.

Screenshot 2015-12-14 at 10.03.26 AM

Layer 2: The War

The second layer (red standard map markers and diamonds) is simply a grouping of cities which comprised the French/Belgian front in WWI. The cities were gathered from a standard map  of the WWI Western Front. The red markers tell a dramatic story of where the children were in relation to the war, and the accompanying pictures show how scarred the land was in the areas in which children had lived. One can see by the juxtaposition of the war markers and the children markers that the war did  indeed surround them.

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Layer 3: American Relief

This layer features markers of the Franco-American Committee and Red Cross’ respective Headquarters which were located in New York and Washington, D.C.  (cross icons). It also shows newspaper headquarters from Yale to Chicago (newspaper icons). The line from Paris to New York provides a visual representation of the lengths relief workers like Clarke went to and the distance they traveled in order to help French and Belgian children.

The primary sources for the map were Clarke’s images of children in the France in WWI scrapbook. Her handwriting from letters and postcards and and photo captions were transcribed in an attempt to determine locations, although many areas could not be exactly determined and finding the orphanage buildings, with the exception of the Child Welfare Exposition, proved to be impossible. The Till I’ve Done All That I Can website on the Exposition, the Yale and Chicago Tribune articles, and the Franco-American Committee’s records, mainly located on archive.org were useful for determining historical context.

The map was organized according to a format which demonstrates the vast reach of the war and the distance children (and relief workers) traveled to be spared from the war’s worst devastation. Clarke and the broad network of relief workers, committee members,  religious charities, and concerned French and Belgian citizens truly went the distance to ensure that children would feel the care and support which extended from thousands of miles away.

“Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Children of the Frontier,” Archive.org, January 1, 1918 https://archive.org/stream/childrenoffronti00comi/childrenoffronti00comi_djvu.txt

“Child Welfare Exposition,” Till I’ve Done All That I Can, Omeka http://almaaclarke.omeka.net/exhibits/show/the-child-welfare-exposition–/the-child-welfare-exposition

“Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Children of the Frontier,” Archive.org, January 1, 1918 https://archive.org/stream/childrenoffronti00comi/childrenoffronti00comi_djvu.txt, p.9

“Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Children of the Frontier,” Archive.org, January 1, 1918 https://archive.org/stream/childrenoffronti00comi/childrenoffronti00comi_djvu.txt p. 4

“Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Children of the Frontier,” Archive.org, January 1, 1918 https://archive.org/stream/childrenoffronti00comi/childrenoffronti00comi_djvu.txt p. 6-7

Alma A. Clarke, “French World War I Scrapbook, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections Library, http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/almaclarke/id/450

“Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Children of the Frontier,” Archive.org, January 1, 1918 https://archive.org/stream/childrenoffronti00comi/childrenoffronti00comi_djvu.txt p. 6-7

“Child Welfare Exposition,” Till I’ve Done All That I Can, Omeka http://almaaclarke.omeka.net/exhibits/show/the-child-welfare-exposition–/the-child-welfare-exposition

“Map of World War I Western Front,”Trench Warfare on the Western Front, Weebly.com, http://trenchwarfareonthewesternfront.weebly.com/the-western-front.html

Alma A. Clarke, “French World War I Scrapbook, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections Library, http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/almaclarke/id/450

“Child Welfare Exposition,” Till I’ve Done All That I Can, Omeka http://almaaclarke.omeka.net/exhibits/show/the-child-welfare-exposition–/the-child-welfare-exposition

“Relief for French Orphans,” The Yale Alumni Weekly Reader,Vol. XXVI No. 1, 1917, 475.

John T. McCutcheon, “The Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Frontier Children,” Chicago Tribune,November 4, 1915, http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1915/11/04/page/13/article/franco-american-committee-for-protection-of-the-frontier-children

“Franco-American Committee for the Protection of the Children of the Frontier,” Archive.org, January 1, 1918 https://archive.org/stream/childrenoffronti00comi/childrenoffronti00comi_djvu.txt p. 6-7

Timeline of World War I

By Riley Hubbard

World War I was fought between the years of 1914-1919. The war was long and devastating, the most devastating the world had seen.  Germany and Austria-Hungary initially fought against France and Great Britain before the United States entered the war with a majority of the war fought on the continent of Europe.  Soldiers from the United States went to Europe in full force in late 1917 and early 1918.  For more on World War I, check out America and World War I.

Einer Smestad

Einer Smestad was part of the 4th Wisconsin National Guard infantry.  The information on Smestad comes from his scrapbook of the war. Smestad’s scrapbook is a mixture of photographs, postcards and other documents.  Pictures included those of him individually and with his unit along with things he saw throughout his journey.  The postcards show the beauty of the places he visited but also pictures of the destruction that happened. The scrapbook is his memories from the war, although some pictures added are clearly ones that have been mass produced for either soldiers or for the general public. These pictures include clear captions and are not about his unit.  It can be presumed that the postcards were bought while he was overseas, due to the German printed on them.

It is unknown when Smestad made his scrapbook, but it can be known that it has been added to. Off the front cover are newspaper articles from 1977. The memories from this book most likely meant something to him. But it does leave the question of when did he make the scrapbook? Looking through the book, it can be assumed that he made the scrapbook after he returned home from the war.  Out of the 92 pages, only the first 30 seem to be his personal pictures and page 34 contains the most information about him. This page has a five-page detailed outline of Smestad’s unit’s movements throughout the war. The details include when he was at camps and when he was traveling, as well as his discharge from the National Guard.

Questions about his scrapbook still can’t be answered. Who are the men in the pictures with him? They are men from his unit but are they friends or were the pictures posed for another reason? Why did he choose the pictures he did? Do the massed produced pictures hold a meaning to him?


The timeline made through Knightlab’s TimelineJS, brings together the events of World War I and the events of Einer Smestad’s life as a soldier.  Pictures included are mostly from Smestad’s scrapbook, as it provided many different pictures and postcards from the war.  By using his pictures, his scrapbook is used in a different way to show the war.

While looking at the timeline, there can seem as though there are large gaps of time where nothing in the war happen. This is untrue, much happened during this period, however the United States did not partake.  The goal of the timeline was to give the mains events that led to the United States joining World War I and the major events after the United States entered. The choice to stick to the overall major events was to allow the inclusion of some events from Smestad’s life and show some of the wonderful images from his scrapbook.

Remembering the War

America’s part in World War I was years shorter than their European counterparts, however, their experiences were no less important.  Smestad was only in Europe for a little over a year while other countries had been involved for four years before he stepped foot on European soil. Smestad’s unit was not the first United States soldiers to arrive in Europe nor were they the last. However, even through the fighting and devastation faced in the war, Smestad chose to keep some memories from his time overseas.

Remembrance of World War I has continued every year in many countries. In America, November 11, the official end of World War I is remembered every year as Veterans Day. In the United Kingdom, the same day is Remembrance Day.  World War I was to be the war to end all wars. Only a short 20 years later, the world would enter yet another world war.  But this first war hit the world so hard, that people felt the need to remember it.

As the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I approaches, people still look to remember this great war.  The War to end all wars did not happen; the world is still fighting wars.  But the remembrance of this war from a soldier’s point of view isn’t necessarily one of destruction and devastation.  Smestad’s scrapbook shows that he intended to remember his time in France and Germany during the war.


United States Department of State. “U.S. Entry into World War I, 1917.” Accessed November 15, 2015. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914-1920/wwi

United States Army Europe. “WWI.” Accessed November 14, 2015. http://www.eur.army.mil/organization/history.htm

BBC. “Word War One: The Global Conflict that Defined a Century.” Accessed November 14, 2015. http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zqbhn39

U.S. History. “America in the First World War.” Accessed November 10, 2015. http://www.ushistory.org/us/45.asp

Villanova Digital Library. “The Scrapbook of Einer Stemstad.” Accessed November 28, 2015. http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:392606

The Second Line of Defense: Female Representation During the WWI (Visual Storytelling)

By Andreina Soto

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Women performed noncombatant roles during the WWI in the U.S. and in Europe. Their presence in the war, sometimes overlooked, can be observed through a wide scope of visual culture that circulated during the years of the Great War. Photographs, postcards, and propaganda show different dimensions of the female persona during this period. They were mothers, but they were also providers; they were waiting at home, but they were also in the battlefield healing the soldiers.

The visual culture and printing media that circulated during the Great War reflects the imagery towards gender roles, shows the multifaceted character of the female representations, and women’s engagement in different activities at home and overseas. Giving the inextricable relation between war and gender, the following storytelling portrays and explains some of the female representations of women during the WWI based on propaganda, photographs, and videos I have selected from digital databases related to the Great War. These resources serve to explore in more depth the role of women in the early-twentieth century U.S., which opened a road to women’s involvement in the political and public life of the country.

Women became the “second line of defense” that secured the moral, social, economic, and political sustaining of the U.S. in ways the male soldiers and civil men could not achieve. As Susan Grayzel sustains, World War I was the first modern war that required the full participation of both combatants and noncombatants, altering the battlefield as well as the domestic and social spaces of the Homefront in Europe and the U.S. Even though the outcome of WWI did not radically changed the place of women in society, this epoch did had a great influence in different aspects of the domestic and public life that affected women and men. As well as the image of the country and the male soldiers highlighted the cohesion of a national identity, the visual representations of the war also relied and engaged female imagery. At the same time, the war opened new opportunities for education, employment, and national service for women in the country and overseas, performing duties as nurses, stenographers, factory workers, food producers, among others. The composition of different types of visual culture using female models, especially in propaganda, reflect this transition.

This is a story about female imagery – how they were envisioned during the course of the war.

Visual content

This project bases on the visual analysis of different photographs and printed media -mostly propaganda- produced and circulated during the course of the Great War. In order to compile and curate the images, I have used the following digital databases:

Printed media and photographs had an important role in the distribution of information by the turn of the twentieth century. Their use seems remarkable during the course of the Great War in which, for example, a great scope of newspapers, commercial photographs, postcards, and propaganda circulated worldwide to keep the population informed.

To construct my story about female imagery in the war, I have incorporated different types of propaganda I have found at the Library of Congress Digital Collection, a very comprehensive database to locate printed media from U.S. and overseas from the early twentieth century. I have also used printed media and photographs from the scrapbooks of Alma Clarke, Frank Steed, and the Scrapbook from the Home Front (anonymous), who offer a personal perception of the war from the angle of three different persons who, from Europe and from Home, gathered, selected, and constructed their memories into scrapbooks.

The comparative examine of these sources -propaganda and scrapbooks-  allows to see collective and individual perspectives based on gender, occupation, leisure activities, social interactions, and personal values.

The Storytelling

“The Second Line of Defense” goes through a main narrative, divided in four themes. Each excerpt offers a particular view or role I have defined to understand the female imagery during the WWI: Motherland, Healers, Muses, and Providers. Each excerpt is formed by a main argument presented through a comparative analysis of different visual resources. This gives the sense of an “interactive museum,” where in each gallery the user cannot just observe the visual culture but also manipulate the images and learn through the contrast between visual and writing content.

Scroll down the page to read the storytelling. You can also hover over the  images to learn more information about their visual content.

If you wish to know about the composition of the storytelling, click here. Meanwhile, enjoy the wonderful story of the female imagery during the WWI.

Motherland: Female Symbolism of National Identity

In the early-twentieth century, the battlefield was considered a place solely for the male warrior to defend his nation. Nonetheless, from a century before the image of the United States had a female face that made the call and unify the people under the same national sentiment. Her name was Columbia.

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Once the thirteen colonies began to acquire a greater sense of national identity, the image of Columbia emerged to personify this new spirit. The references to Columbia date back from 1697, when Chief Justice Samuel Sewall of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote a poem suggesting that America’s Colonies should be called Columbina, a feminization of Christopher Columbus’ last name. But it was not until late-eighteenth century that Columbia acquired a more meaningful place in the way United States depicted itself as a nation in search for independence from Britannia, the female representation of the empire overseas.

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Columbia appeared for the first time in a poem written by Phillis Whatley, a former slave who wrote in 1776 during the revolutionary war. Since then, the image would become a recurrent symbol that unified the country.
Columbia, as well as the national embodiment of the European countries, was inspired in Roman symbols that resembled images of mythical figures. Columbia’s physical attributes and clothes gives her the image a classic goddess. Some of the representations depict her wearing a white draped garment, but during the course of the war it is also common to see her body covered with the flag of the United States.

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Beside Columbia, other pseudo-mythical representations took part in the way war propaganda animated combatants and noncombatants to participate in the war. The most popular image, one that remain until our days, is Uncle Sam, who displays a male representation.

Move the arrows at the center of the image to the left or to the right to appreciate the similarities and differences between Columbia and Uncle Sam!

Nonetheless, we can notice Uncle Sam is almost coercive to the viewer, suggesting obedience or threat if the person fails to obey the call for duty. His use to encourage enlistment in the military and working duties during the war suggests his association with the governmental institution. Meanwhile Columbia, a softer and motherly image, would embody the virtuous and protective motherland.

Throughout the propaganda from the period, it is noticed how Columbia became a more powerful symbol to enact national identity, as the voice and the face of the mother -the country- who called her sons –soldiers- and daughters –noncombatant nurses, wives, and workers- to involve in the battle, to take action.

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The image of Columbia was used to recruit soldiers as well as to request the help of civilians to contribute with the nation by preserving food, working as volunteers, and performing other duties, such as serving for the Red Cross. Along her, other female representations named Liberty and Victory took part in the advertising that circulated during the war.

Similar to Columbia, these pseudo-goddesses also use draped garments that combined white, the colors of the U.S., and physical features of classic Roman imagery. Nonetheless, these two representations also represented other meanings. Even though they suggested patriotism, their moralizing voices called the population to engage the population in different levels. For the male population, it is common to see Victory, shoulder to shoulder, holding a sword and leading the men with bravery in the battlefield. Liberty, on the other hand, called the attention of the female and the male population in the Homefront, guiding them to produce the land, to enlist the army, to volunteer as nurses.

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The use of these different representations highlights the power of the WWI propaganda and shows the circulation of patriotic ideas that sought to create guilt, passion, and bravery among the U.S. population. Their representations, as well as their messages, also expose how men and women played particular roles in the war, the first seeking for victory, the seconds at home, securing the nation’s freedom.

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Healers: Nurses in the Battlefield

Columbia called men to join the battle, but she also addressed women to travel away from home and serve as nurses and nurses’ aides for the Red Cross.

The posters from the period show a predominant use of female representations, an embracing and motherly image that suggests the role of nurses as healers of the physical and moral state of the men.

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Others images also show nurses serving civilians, they became comforters of a context broken by the destruction of the war. Several posters depict female nurses standing aside of wounded soldiers, while others depict them taking actions holding men, performing medical assistance. There are, on the other hand, photographs of women in action, such as the images preserved in the Alma Clarke scrapbooks.

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The relevance of the war propaganda is evidenced in Alma Clarke’s papers. In these, she used photographs along printed media to frame her experience and perception of the war. Alma and many other U.S. American women were part of the healers that aided in the physical and moral assistance of the soldiers in the battlefield.

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While Alma captured her memories in a scrapbook, while other healers of the war, such as the British Vera Brittain, compiled her experience in a written memoire titled Testament of Youth. Vera Brittain was a student at Oxford when she decided to train as a nursing auxiliary. Her autobiography, Testament of Youth, records her experience before and during the Great War with profound sorrow by witnessing wounded and deceased soldiers during her time serving in England, Malta and France. Her fiancé Roland and her brother Edward died in combat.

Vera published her autobiography in 1933 and it became one of the most compelling stories about the effects of the war on the women and middle-class civilians in European youth population.

Muses: The War in the Domestic Space

“Knowing the women he loves is safe and waiting for his return becomes far more important to the soldier that the work provided by women as comrades in arms” –Susan Grayzel, Women’s Identities at War (1999).

Perhaps one of the most famous role of the women during the course of the Great War that has perpetuated until our days, is the women who stayed at home, waiting for her beloved one to return. Vera Brittain depicts part of this story, using her own voice to narrate her time in Oxford thinking about her brother and fiancé before deciding volunteering as nurse. This image of the lover, the mother, and the daughter in despair served to recruit soldiers. The messages embedded in the poster argues the necessity of men to involve in battler to defend their families and lovers, as well as for the safeguard of their male honor.

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It is interesting to observe how these images affect the construction of men and women that lived in flesh and blood the consequences of the war in their social and family circles. Alma Clarke’s scrapbooks, for example, puts greater emphasis in the images of nurses and nuns as mothers and caretakers. Alma’s memories frame the way in she saw herself as a noncombatant in the battlefield, how the posters of recruitment from the Red Cross highlighted their role to “heal” the damages of the war.

However, Alma does not emphasize the domestic space in the same way as Frank Steed or the author, probably a man, of the Atlantic City scrapbook. The vision of these persons, which we can observe through the scrapbooks, reflect the gender and work relations in the midst of the war. These men, in Europe and in the U.S., compiled almost simultaneously media representing ideal versions of female as inspirational motifs of male heroism and in leisure environments.

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The women portrayed by these men always look young, radiant, and smiling. These men, unlike Clarke who relied on her heroism as a nurse in the war, utilized photographs and printed media of real-life muses to create their memories. They focus on an image of female’s positive and embracing images to maintain the spirits high in the midst of a chaotic context.

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But even though there were women who stayed at home, their duties went beyond the romanticized idea of the lady in despair. The propaganda that circulated in the country call the attention of the housewives to honor their men and serve their country by rationing food and donating supplies for the cause of the war. These media gives the idea women should serve a sort of penitence while men are overseas sacrificing their lives for them and for Columbia.

Providers: Working Women in the Homefront

While the image of Muses is very popular, the recruitment campaign during the war also aimed at involving women in different duties in the Homefront. The main goal of these tasks was to provide different means: food, weapons, information. Along with the role of nurses, this imagery of women turns empowering and provided a channel of social mobility in the public sphere of the U.S. In the absence of men, women took agency and went to the factories, to the fabrics, and to the farmland.

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Then, women became providers, a fundamental system that secured the well-being of the soldiers and the stability of the country.

In terms of resources, the most prominent scope of propaganda targets the role of women working the land, planting the seed, and preserving food.

The image from the right exposes the sentiment that the battle was not isolated in Europe, but it affected the way people saw their quotidian task in the U.S. In this case, women became “the army land,” adjudicating implicit combatant roles that addressed their importance in the production of good for the civilian and military population. The image from the left, which belongs to the “Scrapbooks – the Home Front”, reasserts the role of women as providers, as the sources of the energy that would guarantee the success of the soldiers in battle. Furthermore, the images exposes the women also in a combatant role with her duty, since she is also wearing an uniform. Even though this image seems to be more patronizing than the previous, it does give an idea on how the domestic and the public sphere merged to create the female role of provider.

While the production and preservation of food appears as the most constant theme of the propaganda and printed media, there were also other two roles that increased female’s involvement in the war, as providers of weapons and providers of information.

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These four dimensions of female imagery -Motherland, Healers, Muses, Providers- show the multifaceted character that surrounded women’s role in the early twentieth century. They also show the transitions of women from the domestic environment of the home, preserving food, to the public spheres working shoulder to shoulder, reaffirming an active position among men, occupying positions once limited in the past, and serving as examples for the nation. Women in the Great War played important roles that preserved the national sentiments in the home front and the battlefront, that healed the soldiers physically and spiritually. Most of all, these women opened new paths for the following generations, and in the same way as WWI transformed men, countries, and governments, it also changed and reaffirmed the importance of women at family, social, and economic levels.

Hopefully, this storytelling exposes how fundamental the presence of this imagined and real women was for the place female population occupies nowadays!


References/Further Reading

“An Auxiliary Nurse’s Scrapbook of the Great War.” Home Before the Leaves Fall. http://wwionline.org/articles/auxiliary-nurses-scrapbooks-great-war/

“Columbia (name).” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_%28name%29#cite_note-3

Day, Elizabeth. “Testament of Youth: Vera Britain’s classic, 80 years on.” The Guardian, 2013. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/mar/24/vera-brittain-testament-of-youth

“Enclosure: Poem by Phillis Wheatley, 26 October 1775.” Founders Online. National Archives. http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-02-02-0222-0002

Fox, Jo. “Women in World War One propaganda.” British Library. http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/women-in-world-war-one-propaganda

Franke-Ruta, Garance. “When America was Female.” The Atlantic, 2013. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/03/when-america-was-female/273672/

Grayzel, Susan. Women’s Identities at War. Chapel Hill: UNC Press Books, 1999.

“Hail Columbia! with Lyrics; First American National Anthem – United States of America.” (Video.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPlQS1pzHdA

“I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now Sung By Billy Murray.” (Video.) Posted by WW1 Photos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI_-SrIvB-4

Kim, Tae H. “Where Women Worked During World War I.” Seattle General Strike Project. https://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/kim.shtml#_ftn15

Marks, Ben. “Women and Children: The Secret Weapon of World War I Propaganda Posters.” Collectors Weekly, 2003. http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/women-and-children-the-secret-weapons-of-world-war-i-propaganda-posters/

“Military Nurses in World War I.” History and Collections. Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc. http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/rr/s01/cw/students/leeann/historyandcollections/history/lrnmrewwinurses.html

Patch, Nathaniel. “The Story of Female Yeomen during the First World War.” National Archives 38 3 (2006). http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2006/fall/yeoman-f.html

Pitz, Marylynne. “Hail, Miss Columbia: Once a U.S. symbol she’s lost out to Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2008. http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/2008/03/18/Hail-Miss-Columbia-Once-a-U-S-symbol-she-s-lost-out-to-Uncle-Sam-Lady-Liberty/stories/200803180240

Prior, Neil. “How Land Girls helped feed Britain to victory in WW1.” BBC News, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-26238755

“Theres A Long Long Trail A Winding Sung By John McCormack.” (Video.) Posted by WW1 Photos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DczcPkogrZU

“Vera Brittain. A Short Biography.” Learn Peace. http://www.ppu.org.uk/vera/

Welch, David. “Propaganda for patriotism and nationalism.” British Library. http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/patriotism-and-nationalism

“World War I and the American Red Cross.” American Red Cross. http://www.redcross.org/about-us/history/red-cross-american-history/WWII

“World War One: The many battles faced by WW1’s nurses.” BBC News, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26838077



Pitz, Marylynne. “Hail, Miss Columbia: Once a U.S. symbol she’s lost out to Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2008 http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/2008/03/18/Hail-Miss-Columbia-Once-a-U-S-symbol-she-s-lost-out-to-Uncle-Sam-Lady-Liberty/stories/200803180240

“Columbia (name). Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_%28name%29#cite_note-3”

Prior, Neil. “How Land Girls helped feed Britain to victory in WW1.” BBC News, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-26238755; Kim, Tae H. “Where Women Worked During World War I.” Seattle General Strike Project. https://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/kim.shtml#_ftn15

Patch, Nathaniel. “The Story of Female Yeomen during the First World War.” National Archives 38 3 (2006). http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2006/fall/yeoman-f.html” target=”_blank; “World War I: 1914-1918.” Striking Women. http://www.striking-women.org/module/women-and-work/world-war-i-1914-1918

“Enclosure: Poem by Phillis Wheatley, 26 October 1775.” Founders Online. National Archives. http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-02-02-0222-0002

Susan Grayzel, Women’s Identities at War: Gender, Motherhood, and Politics in Britain and France during the First World War (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press), p. 2.