American women rebuilding France- 1917-1924

An exhibition from the Franco-American Museum, Château de Blérancourt, Picardy, France, with testimonials from letters in the Anne Morgan archives at The Morgan Library & Museum.


In 1917 a small team of women, appalled by news of wartime destruction, left comfortable lives at home to volunteer in the devastated regions of France. Their dynamic leader was Anne Morgan (1873–1952), wealthy daughter of the late financier Pierpont Morgan. She was already well known for her public opposition to social injustice but it was in war-scarred France that she found her life’s passion.

As she rallied potential volunteers and donors on speaking tours across the United States, Morgan employed documentary photography to foster a humanitarian response to the plight of French civilian population.

The photographs and silent films were commissioned by the American Committee for Devastated France, the volunteer civilian relief organization that Morgan founded with her friend, the Canadian doctor Anne Murray Dike (1879–1929).

Full-page images taken by photographer Harry B. Lachman, ran in American newspapers, sets of prints were sold for three dollars a dozen, and films were screened in movie houses throughout the United States.

These haunting views of ruined French towns, portraits of refugee families and children, and tableaux of American volunteers at work illustrate not only the human cost of war but also the potency of photographic propaganda.

This special traveling U.S. exhibition taken from the Anne Morgan archives at the museum, originated at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City in 2010, and was then displayed at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.

Since then numerous cultural centers, galleries, historical societies and libraries in various American cities have shown the exhibition and many more have scheduled it for the next few years.
During this WWI Centennial year, commemorations of the “Great War” are taking place nation-wide, enabling Americans to better understand its profound significance to this day. “AMERICAN WOMEN REBUILDING FRANCE” powerfully shows what it meant in real human terms.

This exhibition from the Franco-American Museum, Château de Blérancourt in Picardy, France is made possible in part through the support of:

  • The American Friends of Blérancourt
  • La Délégation des Alliances Françaises USA
  • The Federation of the Alliance Française USA
  • The Florence Gould Foundation
  • The French Ministry of Culture and Communication
  • RMN L’Agence photographique de France

Exhibition tour in 2014-2015

Coral Gables, FL --- September 4- November 25, 2015
Coral Gables Historic Museum

American Friends of Blérancourt - Contacts
Tel. (212) 725-5380

To learn more about the itinerary exhibition, visit

Last modified on 17/02/2015

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