Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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A report about the activities of the hospital in Luzancy, France, made by Dr. M. Louise Hurrell to American Women’s Hospitals. 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. M. Louise Hurrell was the second director of the American Women’s Hospitals. She took the position in November 1918, and ran the hospital at Luzancy until it moved to Blérancourt in June 1919. She remained director until August 1919.

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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: local violence, hunger, injuries, communicable diseases, forced migration, and inadequate housing. The women physicians were welcomed and appreciated by local villagers, and purposefully cultivated good relations with local officials. Dr. Hurrell's reports to the AWH describe illness and epidemics compounded by lack of food, fuel and clothing, as well as unsanitary conditions. However, the work of the AWH and its support networks helped each area recover.

After the armistice was signed, living conditions were slow to improve in areas devastated by the fighting. The doctors of AWH treated a large variety of illnesses and injuries, including broken bones, dental work, and diseases such as typhoid and pneumonia. The people of the villages in which AWH operated valued and were grateful for the women physicians’ work.

Creator: Hurrell, M. Louise

Contributor: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_129

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 Women's Hospitals

Women physicians--France

World War, 1914-1918--War work

World War, 1914-1918--Hospitals

Luzancy (France)

New York (N.Y.)