Saturday, January 12th, 2019

A Remaining Mystery

The final stop on this trip was the archives at the Château de Vincennes, an old fort which houses the Service Historique de la Défense. I was very confident I would find what I was looking for here – I had reserved the relevant documents related to the 137th regiment ahead of time and being directed here by the officer in Fontenay-le-Comte confirmed (in my mind) that this would be a successful mission. Well, long story short, it was and it wasn’t. After arriving at the reading room, grabbing my reserved documents and setting up my station, I delved into […]

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Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

No Luck in Fontenay-le-Comte

As every historian knows, unfortunately not every lead turns up positive results. Such was the case with my visit to the Centre Militaire de Formation Professionnelle in Fontenay-le-Comte. I was set to visit the CMFP because it is listed as the “keeper of the regimental flag and traditions” of the 137th infantry regiment, with which Katharine served. I wrote a letter asking whether or not they had anything that would be of use to me, but having received no answer, I decided to go ask in person. After being turned away at the gate, I spent some time exploring the […]

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Monday, January 7th, 2019

Visiting autochir 7

The next stop on the path in Katharine’s footsteps was the Porte Rouge farm. Just behind this farm, which still exists today, was the base of “Auto-chir” 7 (“ambulance chirurgicale automobile” or mobile surgical ambulance) in which Katharine was involved from roughly August through November 1917. These auto-chirs were a sort of midway point between the front lines and the distant convalescence hospitals. Wounded men who could afford to wait long enough to be taken to safety but could not necessarily wait long enough for a true evacuation were brought here. Despite the deceivingly implied mobility, these hospitals were quite […]

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Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Touring the Chemin des Dames

Joined by my knowledgable guide Madame Teyssier and chauffeured by her husband Louis, I spent the morning driving along the Chemin des Dames battlefield. Here, the 137th regiment of the French infantry, as well as many others, served. Katharine Baker was a corporal in this regiment so seeing this site was crucial to understanding her war experience. The battles along the Chemin des Dames were notoriously difficult and deadly because of the spot’s geographic features. The Chemin des Dames itself runs across the top of a hill. Anyone at the top of this point had an uninterrupted view of the […]

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Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

First Stop: Toulons

Over the next week and a half or so, thanks to the  Leanne Freas Trout Travel Exploration Grant, generously provided by the French department, I will be visiting sites related to my quest to re-discover the story of Katharine Baker, class of 1892’s service as a nurse. The first stop on the trip is Toulon, a rather large port city in the south of France. Here, Frances Baker cared for her sister when she fell ill. In winter of 1918, Katharine Baker contracted pneumonia and chose to continue working rather than rest and heal. As a result, she became seriously […]

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Saturday, May 26th, 2018

A Surprising Wealth of Information at the BDIC

The Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine sits on the slightly secluded campus of Unitersité Paris Nanterre. It’s a bit difficult to find using public transportation, as the archive itself is nestled into the university’s library building, but the trip was certainly worth the effort. Julia Stevens (‘20) and I arrived at the archive not quite knowing what to expect. After receiving our researcher ID cards and receiving some help from the staff, we began searching through BDIC’s archives for information on Katharine and Frances Baker, Bucknell sisters who served as dedicated volunteer nurses, and Service Sanitaire unités 524 and 525, […]

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Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Reflecting on Charles O’Brien

This Memorial Day, our group of eight visited the burial site of First Lieutenant Charles O’Brien, a Pennsylvania native and a Bucknellian in the Class of 1909, at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. Lt. O’Brien was one of the countless men and women to put their country and its values above all else and serve in the First World War. Lt. O’Brien’s story in WWI was short but powerful, because of his dauntless courage and inspiration. These qualities are some of the reasons why I was compelled to learn more about him and his pre-war story/life. It was haunting to stare […]

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Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Bucknell, the Liberal Arts, & WWI

Where did history happen, what history do we consider to be significant, who are ‘we’, and what can history do for us? As a geographer involved with this project, I have found myself considering these essential and interrelated questions, as we have all struggled to make sense of the massive scale of death associated with WWI, and to somehow find some meaning in it. So where did WWI history happen? Here I would argue it’s all about perspective, and for most people in the world, WWI history happened somewhere else -far beyond respective nation state borders. The result is that […]

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Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Visiting St. Thibault

I wish I could have posted this yesterday but the internet connection was a little iffy, however may 26th was a great day for developing the picture of Lieutenant George Wilson Potts, the Bucknellian that I chose to research before our trip. We visited the area that he likely fought for against the Germans after American troops descended from St. Thibault towards the Marne River. The area was a bridge that was essentially the only way over the river and the only way for either side to advance. This was where Lt. Potts earned his silver star for his valor […]

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Friday, May 19th, 2017

Retracing the journey and honoring the service of Joe Aleshouckas (1915)

After doing a lot of archival research and ‘detective work’, we’re really looking forward to visiting the little French village of Manonville on the afternoon of May 27th, and more precisely what is now a nondescript farmer’s field but what was once a WWI American aerodrome on the Western Front. Here we are retracing the journey and honoring the service of Joe Aleshouckas (1915), a pilot who was stationed here with the 168th Aero Squadron. Keep following our blog (here on our webpage) and we’ll let you know what we discover!

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