Again with AFS...this time at the Archives!

In 2006 I left Italy for the United States as an AFS Participant. The year I spent living in Wisconsin has been one of the greatest experiences of my life so far. Today I am a student at the University of Bologna studying foreign languages, and have again made the trip from Italy to the United States through AFS. I needed to do an internship in an English-speaking organization as part of my coursework, and so I volunteered to work in the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs five weeks ago. Despite this being my first time working in an archive, I received training from the Head Archivist and was quickly ready and eager to begin work on my projects.

The most interesting project I worked on involved the digitization of a collection of letters written by Regis H. Post, a volunteer stationed at the American Ambulance Hospital in Neuilly, to his mother in the United States.  Post, the former Governor of Puerto Rico, volunteered for the Section for the Wounded at the Hospital in December 1914 with a group of other Harvard alumni.  He became a member of the Hospital’s Ambulance Section Transportation Committee (as the first American member outside of the pre-war American community in Paris), and was also Adjutant of the Motor Corps with many administrative duties.  Though he does not mention him in his letters, Post was at the Hospital at the same time as A. Piatt Andrew, who later broke away from the Hospital to form AFS.

I am fascinated by Post’s letters, which were written early in the war prior to the formation of AFS. In his letters, Post gives us information about the work of the Ambulance Section, and he includes his feelings and his thoughts while describing his work to his mother. He wrote to her almost once a week, and even more when he had the opportunity to do so. There are many topics in the letters that will be fascinating to researchers looking for information on AFS, as well. Post describes the daily activities of an ambulance driver at the Hospital, including how they picked up the wounded at the train stations and brought them back to the Hospital. This is significant because it describes the early activities of the Hospital right around the time Andrew arrived. Eventually, Andrew led the ambulance drivers to work closer to the field. Post also describes a story involving Edmund L. Gros, who was the surgeon in charge of the Ambulance Corps at the Hospital and later became the chief physician of AFS. Gros’s wife begged Post to drive her to her husband , and it is entertaining to read how they sped through Paris and evaded the French police while doing so.

The digitized letters are now available on the AFS Archives Web site, which also contains biographical information about Post’s life. Click here to read the digitized letters and collection description, and to view the photograph that belongs with the collection. 

You can also read this article in Italian (Potete leggere questo articolo anche in Italiano.)

-Giulia Morlini, Spring 2013 AFS Archives Intern

Image caption: Letters of Regis H. Post. All images used in this article cannot be reproduced outside the guidelines of Fair Use without advance permission from the AFS Archives.

Posted April 19, 2013 by Nicole Milano