Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WWI Red Cross Uniform

The patch on this uniform's apron says it all: A.R.C. Canteen Worker. To help in the war (WWI) effort, the American Red Cross had a civilian corps called the Canteen Service (1917-19).
The Red Cross provided food and snacks as well as leisure articles, to troops primarily when they were in transit at railroad stations and ports of embarkation and debarkation. By the end of the war, 55,000 canteen workers operated 700 canteens in the United States that served nearly 40 million refreshments. Overseas, the American Red Cross operated 130 canteens in France alone that served some 15 million American and Allied soldiers.
(Information courtesy of American Red Cross Museum.)

Apparently the women who worked for the Canteen service didn't just pass out sandwiches as fast as they could be made, some were even tasked with taking rolling canteens to the frontlines (from The Medical Front WWI).

I came upon this venerable set (now being auctioned) and don't know the name of the original owner I'm sorry to say. It isn't the most fancily constructed uniform; one can almost sense the urgency to get the outfit made. By contrast, the uniform has now been lovingly preserved, even with its War-era flaws, for nearly a century. It seems to have stories to tell.

Card found at

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