Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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An article published in the Woman's Medical Journal about a patient cared for at the hospital in Luzancy, France. 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. Villagers faced a difficult decision in leaving their homes, and although many chose to do so, they still dealt with the after-effects of warfare. 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. It is likely that many families from the war-torn regions experienced similar events as those described by Dr. Hurrell. The story of the basket weaver and his family depicts the numerous difficulties civilians faced long after the fighting had ended.

Creator: Hurrell, M. Louise

Publisher: The Woman's Medical Journal

Language: english

Item Number: wmj_29.2.feb-1919

Pages: 2

Size: 19.68 x 28.57cm

Physical Collection: Woman's Medical Journal / Medical Woman's Journal, ACC-AHE5

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

Woman's Medical Journal

World War, 1914-1918--War work

World War, 1914-1918--Hospitals

World War, 1914-1918--Refugees

Luzancy (France)