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A letter from Anne Dike, president of the American Committee for Devastated France to Dr. Hazel Bonness, director of American Women’s Hospitals at Blérancourt, asking for the AWH to continue their work. The American Women's Hospitals (AWH) developed from the War Service Committee of the Medical Women's National Association (later, American Medical Women's Association) in 1917 to provide, register, and finance American women physicians in order to aid those affected by World War I and provide medical and emergency relief to refugees. Dr. Hazel Bonness was the third director of the American Women’s Hospitals. She began her work in August 1919 at the hospital in Blérancourt.

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"Across Battlefields and into Villages": The American Women's Hospitals in World War I France

The armistice that ended the war in Western Europe on November 11, 1918, did not change conditions in the areas devastated by the war. The doctors of AWH believed that the end of war did not mean the end of their services. People who had experienced the deprivations and devastation of war continued to suffer from its effects long after the fighting had ended. In June of 1919, the hospital was moved to Blérancourt, a town about 75 miles north of Luzancy, as French doctors returned to Luzancy and its surrounding areas and living conditions improved greatly. As in Dr. Hurrell did in Luzancy, the new AWH director, Dr. Bonness, faced difficulties when the doctors at Blérancourt began returning. The AWH doctors had to negotiate with the French doctors, assuring them that they would see patients only with the approval of the mayor or the French doctors. These negotiations were made easier with the help of the American Committee for Devastated France. The American Committee for Devastated France was founded by Anne Morgan and Anne Dike in 1919. The organization sent nearly 350 volunteers to aid the population of war-torn France, and supported the work of the American Women’s Hospitals. The Committee employed French doctors, paying them well if they would cooperate with the doctors of AWH.

Although the returning French doctors did not seem happy about the presence of the AWH, the villagers and mayors realized that the post-war conditions of disease, poor food supply and shelter, combined with the upcoming winter, meant that the French doctors would be in need of assistance themselves. The American Committee for Devastated France asks for the AWH to remain throughout the winter and promises to aid them in working with the newly-returned French doctors.

Creator: Dike, Anne Murray

Contributor: Bonness, Hazel; American Committee for Devastated France

Language: english

Item Number: a144_132

Pages: 2

Size: 21.59 x 27.94cm

Physical Collection: Records of American Women`s Hospitals 1917-1982, ACC-144

Finding Aid:

Link to OPAC Record:

Cite this source: Title of document, date. The American Women’s Hospitals in World War I France: Across Battlefields and into Villages. Doctor or Doctress?: Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians. The Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine Archives & Special Collections. Philadelphia, PA. Date of access.

American Committee for Devastated France

American Women's Hospitals

Women physicians--France

World War, 1914-1918--War work

World War, 1914-1918--Hospitals

Bonness, Hazel

Luzancy (France)

New York (N.Y.)