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January 16–18, 1918

Some 500 alumnae attended the annual meeting of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College (AAVC) at the Hotel Vanderbilt in New York City. After a visit to the campus on January 17, the group received reports from President MacCracken and trustee Minnie Cumnock Blodgett ’84 about the college’s war program, which included a summer training camp for nurses intended to draw young women from across the country and planned in cooperation with the American Red Cross. The gathering was also addressed by the French High Commissioner, André Tardieu, and Stephane Lausanne, the editor of Le Matin.

The alumnae voted to send a Vassar Relief Unit to France. Over the next several months the unit was recruited from alumnae, with funds donated by students, faculty, alumnae and friends. The chairman of the Vassar Unit committee, Fanny S. Townsend ’02, and the faculty leader, Elizabeth H. Haight ’94, worked with the overseas adviser, Major Julia C. Stimson ’01, chief of the American Expeditionary Forces Nursing Service.

Under the direction of Margaret Lambie ’07, members of the unit served in the eight Red Cross Recreation Huts for convalescent soldiers at the American Base Hospital Center, Savenay, France. After the armistice four members of the unit remained in France when it was transferred to Verdun to work under the French government.

Members of the Vassar unit attended dedication ceremonies for the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery at Romagne-sous-Montfauçon on Memorial Day, 1919. “It was the time of daisies,” Lambie recalled. “The thoughts of the Unit naturally turned toward the College campus and daisy gathering days of Sophomore year. … [We] mounted the slope leading to the cemetery. There we thought we saw another field of daisies but it proved to be a field of white crosses marking the graves of thousands of American dead.” Margaret Lambie, Verdun Experiences

The Years