Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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A report of the American Women’s Hospital Service hospitals in Neufmotiers and Luzancy, France, written by Dr. Barbara Hunt, director of the AWH, and describing the conditions of the areas surrounding the hospital. 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. Barbara Hunt was the first director of the American Women’s Hospitals. She oversaw the operations of the first hospital in Neufmotiers, France from its opening on July 28, 1918, and assisted with the move to Luzancy, where she continued her work until November 1918.

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

When the doctors of AWH arrived in France, they found a devastated countryside and villagers suffering from longstanding health problems made worse by wartime conditions. The first hospital established by the American Women's Hospitals (AWH) in July 1918 was in Neufmotiers, a small village about 20 miles southeast of Paris. In September of 1918, the hospital was moved to Luzancy so that it was closer to the devastated areas and where the doctors handled dysentery, typhoid, influenza, and pneumonia as well as performing long overdue surgeries. The doctors of AWH did their medical work under extremely difficult circumstances: scarcity of equipment, improvised spaces, poor transportation, and constant uncertainty and insecurity because the front line of battle was always moving back and forth throughout the countryside. The women physicians were welcomed and appreciated by local villagers, and purposefully cultivated good relations with local officials.

AWH provided the only relief work for World War I-era France organized and carried out by American women physicians. The doctors filled a void left by local (male) doctors, who were serving in the army, and treated not just injured soldiers, but cared for the civilians, often providing preventative treatments and much-needed, long-awaited surgeries.

Creator: Hunt, Barbara

Contributor: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_127

Pages: 12

Size: 21.59 x 27.94cm

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

Finding Aid:

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.)