Material related to wartime (and postwar) activities of the YMCA can be easily researched through the help of internet databases, digitized books, collectors forums and various other digital avenues. What is lacking, however, is information directly related to the individuals who volunteered their time and money to travel to a foreign county to serve donuts to war-weary doughboys waiting to return to their families in the US.
I was lucky enough to track down a large grouping of ephemera collected during the war by a YMCA canteen entertainer, a Miss Kittie Kunz. Included in the grouping is a selection of rare YMCA “unit history” paperwork which gives names and identities to many of the women and men who served alongside Kittie. I researched each of the names in hopes of tracking down passport application portraits. I was overwhelmingly successful and found nearly 75% of the names in the US Passport database that matched perfectly. Each was listed as being a member of the YMCA or Red Cross, and each matches the date range for the YMCA hut. A neat find! Please read on to see the faces of the women who served alongside Kittie. You will also find a smattering of hard-to-find ephemera related to the YMCA. It’s amazing that Kittie saved some of these items. Not all the paperwork is contained in this post, but the scanned material gives a quick glimpse into the typical material a YMCA canteen worker would deal with.
Here is where my favorite piece of researching WWI material came handy….. I was able to research the names of the women listed in the distribution section and track down their WWI era passport applications. Here are my results:
RED CROSS WOMEN