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.
Kittie Kunz’s YMCA ID
Kittie’s YMCA Paris Travel Permit
Kittie’s YMCA Paris Travel Permit Reverse
Kittie’s Permit to Travel to Reims
YMCA War Service Pin Card
YMCA War Service Pin Card Interior
Tea Service Notice for the 28th Division
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:
Miss Gertrude Garden – YMCA
Miss Dorothy Berry – YMCA
Harriet McKenzie – YMCA
Margaret Robinson – YMCA
Katherine Parks – YMCA
Janet Kunz – YMCA (sister to Kittie Kunz)
Kittie Kunz – YMCA
Pauline Brown – YMCA
Mary Waden – YMCA
Dora Lewis – YMCA
Katherine Beakes – YMCA
Cora A. Kennedy – YMCA
RED CROSS WOMEN
Lois Loyhed – Red Cross
Harriet Maxon – Red Cross
Dorothy Peters – Red Cross
Alice McCoy – Red Cross
Esther Edmondson – Red Cross
Mary Jones – Red Cross
Eleanor Little – Red Cross
Mary Healy – Red Cross
Mapping and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) nerds will geek out over this post! Typically I post photographic material related to the service history of US soldiers during WWI and WWII with occasional dalliances into the Civil War and Korean War. In this instance I’m posting an advertising card brought back by a WWI US soldier after the end of hostilities and occupation duties in WWI.
Europeans entrepreneurs quickly adapted to the new influx of comparatively cash-heavy US troops during the War and after hostilities ended in November of 1918. Photo studios, souvenir shops, tour groups, brothels, theaters and bars/restaurants all flourished in the subsequent years. In this case, I’m presenting a card describing the exact location of a seemingly popular soldier bar in the coastal city of Nice. Many Allied (as well as Central Powers) soldiers took their vacations here, and this card is an example of the type of handheld ephemera that was given out in hopes of luring US soldiers into obscure bars. We encounter the same material today when visiting major US cities.
Jack a Loo’s Place
The interesting aspect, for me, of the card is the fact that the obverse side shows a quick (albeit deceiving) map directing prospective clients to the club. I’m a huge fan of historic maps, especially obscure and ephemeral maps from a specific historic context. I compared the Jake a Loo’s map to a current set of maps and tracked down the current location of the bar! 16 Rue Halevy is still a bar and restaraunt, likely serving up similar victuals to the ones our unknown doughboy consumed nearly 100 years ago. The location is snugly situated on a major intersection in Nice and currently specializes in pizza. Please see below for a current street shot of the location:
16 Rue Halevy Today (2013)
Obverse of Card
Current Jake a Loo’s Location
Photographs and letters from WWII are not considered “rare” by many collectors in today’s market. I have roughly 1,000 WWI real photo postcards in my current collection, with and additional four albums of 200 or so photos each. Small-run broadsides and posters are much more ephemeral and should be considered scarce. Broadsides were meant to be posted for a few days, taken down and discarded. In this instance, a doughboy in 42nd Rainbow Division took the time to save one of the broadside posters from a wall somewhere in France. The event apparently was some sort of sports exhibition; not an uncommon event in the post-armistice Europe.
Of special attention to WWI buffs out there – check out the presiding chaplain! None other than Father Duffy of the Fighting 69th! A famous WWI movie centers around Duffy and his heroics during WWI. Check it out here.
James Cagney in The Fighting 69th
42nd Division Broadside