Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

Photograph of mealtime in the Women’s Ward at the hospital in Luzancy, France.

Get the story...

“Across Battlefields and into Villages”: The American Women’s Hospitals in World War I France

When they arrived in France, the doctors of AWH 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.

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.  In the hospital at Luzancy (and at other sites), the doctors did not only provide medical treatment, but also ensured their patients were getting proper nutrition by providing meals.

Creator: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_111

Pages: 1

Size: 15 x 11cm

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)