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The partnership between the Red Cross and the military is one that many are familiar with today, having developed over a century ago in response to the onslaught of World War I. The American Red Cross played an instrumental role during World Wars I and II by providing aid to American troops abroad, while also servicing veterans and servicemember's families at home. A variety of programs emerged as a direct result of the demand for services during wartime. Efforts during World War I focused primarily on supplying personnel, medical items, and food to troops overseas and Allied prisoners of war, as well as civilian victims of the conflict. Volunteers at home no doubt had their hands busy, as well, contributing to overseas efforts in addition to providing medical care and assistance to those affected by the 1918 influenza pandemic. The Red Cross during World War II witnessed the expansion of the Blood Donor program, POW relief, and military and veterans services.
This page contains information on sources and collections related to the American Red Cross and its contributions, both domestic and abroad, during the World Wars.
This collection contains a minute book of the Hebron, Maryland Chapter of the American Red Cross written by its secretary, Mrs. Edgar Gordy. The minute book spans March 19 to June 4, 1918. The book describes the activities of the chapter (i.e. the creation of hospital shirts, bandages, shot bags and petticoats). There is a list of name of the 94 members in the chapter.
American Red Cross, Lower Shore Chapter records document the diverse services volunteers from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware have provided in the nearby communities, across the nation, and on foreign soil, especially during the Second World War. Providing home care, medical services, and disaster relief, the organization’s local achievements are represented through chapter forms, meeting minutes, monthly reports, pins, newspaper clippings and photographs. Their national aid is documented via pamphlets and photographs, and their World War II involvement is recorded in their financial records, volunteer logs, donation ledgers, and shipping forms. The records date from the chapter’s founding in 1916 to 2011.
Description of Items
Narrative History, Founding of Branches, circa 1917
This collection contains a certificate from the Wicomico County Chapter of the American National Red Cross to Mrs. Harry L. Jones naming her a lifetime honorary member of the Board of Directors, dated 1980. The award was presented for Mrs. Jones' work during WWII.
This collection consists of letters from Jeanne Severance, a Red Cross volunteer, to Martha and Constance Greene from 1945 to 1946. Severance wrote from and reported on events in the many places she served, which included France, India, China, Myanmar, and Mexico. Several letters were censored by the United States Army. Also included are photographs of the Greenes in 1962 and some newspaper clippings. At the time, the Greenes had opened the office of Martha Greene real estate company on Long Island in Montauk, New York; there are several pictures of Martha in front of the original offices.
This diary was written in 1943 by an unidentified woman in Brooklyn, New York. The author discussed the Second World War, traveling around New York City, and her eventual enlistment in the Red Cross. The transcribed diary is attached.
The Diary of Irene Smith was written in 1919, when Smith was living in Washington D.C. and then later in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Smith arrived in Washington D.C. on January 1st, 1919 and began working for the Red Cross on the 2nd. Smith wrote about her daily life, which included work and personal activities. She also mentioned major events in her life, such as seeing Woodrow Wilson in the "Welcome Home" parade. Smith recorded all of her daily expenses in the back of the diary. Parts of the diary have been cut out.
This ledger contains the names, addresses, telephone numbers, occupations, working hours, and additional lines of work for women who were part of a Connecticut organization (likely Meriden) circa 1918. The women are listed in companies and each has a rank (Captain, Lieutenant, Private). It is likely that the women were either Minute Women or part of the Connecticut State Council of Defense. Other lines of work listed for the women were Red Cross, surgical, nursing, visiting, reading aloud, stenography, clerical, accounting, auto driving, sewing, gardening, playground, and more. Also included are definitions for various crimes including treason.
This photograph album belonged to an American medical officer who worked in the American Red Cross Hospital in Evreux, France. There are 289 photographs of wounded American, French, British, and German soldiers. Photographs show the wards and operating rooms, hospital staff, patients, prosthetics, Fourth of July celebrations featuring Uncle Sam, basket weaving and woodworking, a funeral, scenery around the city, and other activities of the hospital in 1918.
The author of this diary, Miss Halsey, was an American woman who spent time in Biarritz and Paris, France, during the First World War in 1917. She wrote about her social activities, America’s growing involvement in the war, and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. On April 5, she took a position with the French Wounded Emergency Fund, a British relief organization. Her job was to chauffeur one of its leaders, Edith May, and deliver supplies to non-Red Cross hospitals in the Mayenne, Ernée, Loire, Sarthe, and Orne departments. Letters that Edith May sent to her family in America document an alternative perspective as the two women drove through the French countryside and battlefront before Miss Halsey later joined the Red Cross.
These letters were written from Private Clifton E. Burding to his hometown girlfriend (and future wife) Lillian Snailhan of New Bedford, Massachusetts between 1917 and 1919. Burding was with Company G, 61st Infantry and began training at Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts and Camp Green in Charlotte, North Carolina before being sent to France and, later, Camp Merritt in Creskill, New Jersey. Burding wrote frequently to Lillian and provided insight into the daily routine of military camp life, including frequent drilling and marching, practice with weapons and gas masks, trench digging, medical exams and inoculations, quarantines due to measles, and his assigned details as a hospital orderly, kitchen worker, and provost guard.