Letters from the Field

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

Letters from Anne Morgan in France to her mother, Frances Tracy Morgan, in New York, 1917–19
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of the estate of Anne Morgan, 1952

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From the time she arrived in Blérancourt in 1917 to organize civilian relief efforts in the devastated regions of France, Anne Morgan wrote long letters home describing the extraordinary efforts that clearly fired her with a sense of purpose. "With all my heart I wish I had some kind of gift of giving the real picture of our field over here" she told her mother. Together with her friend and colleague Anne Murray Dike, Morgan assembled a small team of American volunteers dedicated to revitalizing everyday life in a region largely considered to be beyond redemption. Philippe Pétain, the French army's commander-in-chief, arranged for the volunteer committee to establish headquarters in the seventeenth century Château de Blérancourt—less than forty miles from the front. The women lived in barracks, worked long hours, and enjoyed intense camaraderie. Morgan's letters trace the relief effort from its earliest days, as volunteers established themselves in pre-fabricated barracks in the militarized zone, to the post-war period, during which a full range of medical, social, and educational relief programs were firmly in place.