Letter from Anne Morgan, 8 July 1917

Anne Morgan's War: Rebuilding Devastated France, 1917–1924
September 3 through November 21, 2010

Letter from Anne Morgan to her mother, Frances Tracy Morgan
Blérancourt, 9 July 1919

Dearest Mother,

Your good letter of June 10 came last night and glad enough I was to have it. Now at last we are in communication, for you can answer my letter and one feels much closer. I am glad you don't mind my machine [i.e., typewriter], for it is great fun to try and learn it and the speed improves every day a little. Your account of the wedding was delightful and I know how happy you must have been all through.

Over here we are full of business all day every day getting our work started at Blérancourt. Tomorrow we are actually starting off six strong to begin by unpacking our own beds and cooking utensils. While we are settling we must sleep at Compiègne about an hour away by motor and go over every day. At the moment there is only one little pavillon which is at all habitable; the other has no roof and of course we must put up some sort of barraque meant for our dispensaire, our ouvroir, and magasin [barracks for the dispensary, workshop, and store] and our extra sleeping quarters for the motor girls. The "grape arbour" is to be sent from Paris and we hope soon to put in a bathroom. Altogether it is all going to be more than interesting and worthwhile.

You understand we are in the zone des armées [war zone] and so working entirely with the military, but we have to keep in touch with civil, who will control us when the army advances. There is a very interesting point of view among French people that Americans do not seem to in the least understand, the desire not to let their own people feel that Americans are the only ones that are doing anything for them. The wonderful old feudal sense of responsibility back of it all is the strength of the relation between classes and should never die. I very much resent the failure of many of the American workers to understand this. As a matter of fact Anne Dike [Morgan's friend and colleague] and I have met our chief opposition for our determination to work with and through French people. The very best person over here is Murphy himself; he is a perfect trump and one of the nicest people I ever met as well as one of the finest. His attitude all the way through is true blue about everything, never one bit of self-seeking of any kind. How I wish the same could be said of everyone.

Well, the only way is to keep one's eye on the work all the time and realize how much there is to be done. Never can I get the picture of those villages out of my mind. The bravery of the people and the courage with which they come back to begin in the middle of their ruins what life they can with absolutely nothing. I am desperately anxious to meet the woman, Countess D'Evry, who was living in a cart in a stable yard so as to help the soldiers work in the gardens of her people and try and get them back, one by one. Meanwhile her own château was in ruins up on the hill.

We have a wonderful little French girl going up with us who can do everything with her hands. All winter she has been collecting old furniture from the Versailles garrets and after mending them has entirely equipped eighteen families of refugees here in the town. I found her last year and have been in touch with her ever since. Now she is crazy to get up into the country and work there on the spot, so she is as delighted to come as we are to have her. Added to this she can give her services which is a great advantage.

The money question is the hardest of all; fortunately we have enough on hand to make a good beginning and I feel sure the A. F. F. W. [American Fund for French Wounded] will be interested in our reports. Emma writes me asking me to come to her for a while in England, but it does not look now as if there was much get-away for a long time to come. Well, Dearest, this must be goodbye for the moment as there is much to do here in the house when we do get back. This week Elsie [de Wolfe] is here too so we are both trying to catch up with each other as well. Give my best love to Blythie as well as all the family.

always your devoted daughter,