Women and the Great War: Titles in the Cairns Collection of American Women Writers

November 12, 2018

Among the strengths of the Cairns Collection of American Women Writers are titles about women’s roles in World War I. In this, the centenary year of the Armistice, we call your attention to works published in 1918 or shortly thereafter, including memoirs, poetry, correspondence, tributes, adventure novels, and calls to action (or opposition). Many are available in digitized form through the HathiTrust or Google Books.

Here is a sampling:

A red triangle girl in France (call number: Cairns D639 Y7 R4 1918). The red triangle stood for the YMCA, which provided assistance to American and Allied troops during World War I.

Cover of Margaret Deland, Small things (1918).

Margaret Deland, Small things (call number: Cairns D640 D438 2). Note the impressionistic rendering of a field of poppies. Contents: Facing France.–Dry-eyed, heartbroken, laughing.–Their great moments.–Beads, Paris–January, 1918.–Napoleon–and others.–Things we thought were big.–“Marching gayly.”–“We’ll stamp the beast out.”–The fellowship of tears.–“First that which is natural.”–“The regal soul.”–We decide the Kaiser’s fate.

Folding map depicting “racial & national boundaries in Central Europe,” from Emily Green Balch, Approaches to the great settlement (call number: Cairns F08784 B18 Cutter). Published in 1918 for the American Union against Militarism. Including a lengthy bibliography entitled “Some of the more recent books and articles dealing with the problems of the settlement, comp. by Pauline K. Angell,” pp. 315-351.

Harriet Stanton Blatch, Mobilizing woman-power (call number: Cairns F089 W7 B61 Cutter), about employment of women. Published in 1918 by the Womans Press, with a foreword by Theodore Roosevelt. Among the products of the Womans Press in 1918 was Mary Austin, The young woman citizen, also in the Cairns Collection.

Dust jacket for The war bride (1918).

Ethel May Kelley, Over here: The story of a war bride (call number: Cairns PS3521 E392 O8 1918). “The real patriot is the girl who knows that this is HER war, who sends her husband to France and fights at home, bravely and cheerfully, her own fight for self-control, for self-support, for her home and for her country.” Published in Indianapolis by the Bobbs-Merrill Co., which also issued Curtis Wheeler, Letters from an American soldier to his father (1918).

Edna Brooks, The Khaki Girls of the Motor Corps: Or, finding their place in the big war (call number: Cairns PS3503 R717 K5 1918). Part of the Khaki Girls series issued by Cupples & Leon Company.

Mabel Potter Daggett, Women wanted: The story written in blood red letters on the horizon of the Great World War (call number: Cairns F089 W7 D13 Cutter). Daggett highlighted wartime accomplishments of American, British, French, and Russian women.

Julia Catherine Stimson, MA, RN, Finding themselves: The letters of an American Army chief nurse in a British hospital in France (call number: Cairns D640 .S728 1918). Stimson was superintendent of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and later director of the Nursing Service for the Allied Expeditionary Force. Gen. John J. Pershing personally presented her with the Distinguished Service Medal at war’s end.


There are many more titles in the Cairns Collection relevant to the Great War and women’s roles “over there” and back home: try, for example, a Library Catalog search for keywords “cairns AND (war OR Armistice)” and limited to the Cairns Collection in Special Collections with publication dates 1918-1919.

— Robin Rider