The Alliance Française de Philadelphie, 1420 Walnut Street, 7th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102, is hosting the exhibition AMERICAN WOMEN REBUILDING FRANCE, 1917-1924, from the Anne Morgan Archives of the Franco-American Museum, Château de Blérancourt, France, with the support of American Friends of Blérancourt and the Florence Gould Foundation. The opening reception is on Friday, May 2, 2014, followed by a lecture by Miles Morgan, grand-nephew of JP Morgan.
The exhibit consists of reproductions of WWI-era photographs and rare silent film footage that bring to life the extraordinary work undertaken between 1917 and 1924 by 350 American women undefined all volunteers undefined who left comfortable lives in the United States to help the war-ravaged civilian population in Picardy, in northeastern France. The dynamic leader of this effort was Anne Morgan, daughter of financier J. Pierpont Morgan. A “modern woman” well ahead of her time, Anne Morgan commissioned professional photographers to document the devastation in France: their work, which is shown here, was used in fundraising for the war efforts and for stimulating volunteerism. Anne Morgan went on to found the American Committee for Devastated France, which was focused on reconstruction. The volunteers helped with agriculture, livestock, educating the children, teaching families home economics and actual re-building of war-torn areas. This special traveling exhibition 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.