Doctor or Doctress?

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A report concerning the situation in Luzancy, France, after the armistice, made by Dr. M. Louise Hurrell to the Executive Committee of 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

After the armistice was signed, conditions improved slowly in France. 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. Railroads had either been deserted or destroyed during the war, making it difficult for the AWH doctors to receive the supplies they needed. However, the armistice also meant that the doctors who had served in the military were demobilized and able to return to their villages. While this certainly helped to lighten the workload for the AWH doctors, it was also the cause for issues between the French and American doctors. 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.

Working conditions continued to be difficult for the AWH doctors even after the war had ended with the armistice of November 1918. Transportation was especially important, and the impact of the poor access to railroads, cars, etc. in post-war France severely impacted the work of the AWH. Additionally, while the returning French doctors did not seem happy about the presence of the AWH, the villagers and mayors realized that the AWH had saved many communities from complete devastation and welcomed their aid.

Creator: Hurrell, M. Louise

Contributor: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_130

Pages: 4

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.)