Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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Photograph of nurses and doctors standing outside the AWH Hospital in Luzancy, France. Verso reads: Left to right 1st line sitting - Mlle. Buret; Bernard, Edmond, sous concierge; Yvonne, kitchen maid; Dr. Hunt; Bosredon, Housekeeper; Dr. Hurrell; Left to right 1st line standing - Marie, Ward maid; Charlot, kitchen maid; Marie, kitchen maid; Genevieve, Ward maid; Julien Henri, father of twins; Anne Henri, mother of twins; Mme. Lenoir Lehman; 2 Line standing - Miss Drummond and Miss Eadie (chauffeur); Two cleaning women; Clohlda [?], cook.

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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.  The desire to advance in the medical profession and to relieve those suffering in post-war conditions prompted American women physicians to establish the first American Women’s Hospital in France in 1918.  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 work of the AWH and its support networks helped each area recover. The pride of the hospitals was its ambulance drivers and surgeons - all women - who served the 20,000 patients seen over the course of a year.  The French government honored  AWH physicians with the Medailles de Reconnaissance, awarded in recognition of those who, without military obligation, had come to the aid of the injured, disabled, refugees, or who had performed an act of exceptional dedication in the presence of the enemy during the First World War.

Creator: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_121

Pages: 2

Size: 15 x 10.1cm

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

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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)