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Photograph of the outside archway of the AWH Hospital in Luzancy, France.

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

World War I produced conflict and carnage, the likes of which had never been seen before.  France suffered devastating effects of the war being fought on its soil, including a severe humanitarian crisis resulting from the bombardment of villages near the constantly-moving front lines. The conditions of poor, rural villages already suffering from malnutrition and disease were exacerbated by the war.  Local (male) village doctors were away fighting at the front, leaving behind a civilian population even more vulnerable to illness and epidemics. Women physicians were not permitted by the Allied countries to serve as officers in the military medical corps, but there was a desperate need for doctors in the wake of World War I.  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.

The AWH were fortunate enough to be able to set up their hospitals in chateaus, rather than remaining in tents, as those serving near the frontlines of battle did.  The sign above the entranceway to the hospital names the American Committee for Devastated France (“Comité Américain pour les Régions Dévastées de France”), an organization who did much to support the work of the AWH.

Creator: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_112

Pages: 1

Size: 12.1 x 15.2cm

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)