From time to time, we will be posting profiles of our Gest Fellows. Michael E. McGuire is a Ph.D. candidate in History at Boston University. His research is on “Quaker NGOs That Offered Humanitarian Aid to France During and After World War I.”
I am researching the work of American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) formed to aid French civilians during World War I, and to assist France’s postwar reconstruction, to see whether such NGOs affected Franco-American relations. These NGOs include large umbrella organizations like the American Red Cross, and smaller NGOs like the American Friends’ Reconstruction Unit, which trained at Haverford before deploying to France. I am particularly interested in how American Friends were selected and trained for their work in France, how they integrated with existing English Friends’ operations, how the Friends cooperated with similarly-concerned governments and NGOs, how American Friends overcame the language barrier (many tried to brush up or learn French on the voyage or on the job), how both French and American cultures interacted when American Friends entered and remained in parts of France, and how both Friends and French people commemorated NGO work after it largely ceased in 1920.