Child's Play

“A scout is always cheerful”
Compiègne, 1920
Modern print of a vintage sulfur-toned silver print
Franco-American Museum, Château de Blérancourt

Anne Morgan worked diligently to establish a scouting program in the devastated regions and insisted that the new recruits camp in tents, not barracks. In the forest of Compiègne, where the armistice was signed in 1918, boys were diverted from alcohol and from radical politics toward a philosophy of clean living, personal discipline, and physical well-being. By 1921, some eight hundred boys were participating. A small camp for girls was organized for the first time in 1922.

“Boy Scouts. Of course this is a subject I would like to write pages about.”
Anne Morgan, 1918

Children of Saint-Paul-aux-Bois
Saint-Paul-aux-Bois, 1919
Modern print of a vintage sulfur-toned silver print
Franco-American Museum, Château de Blérancourt

“The children whose fathers had been killed came forward and each laid a few flowers on the base of the monument. There were about 30 of them, and there were very few in the audience who were not weeping by the time it was over.”
Marion Bartol, at a memorial event, 1920

Play among the ruins
Anizy-le-Château, 1919
Modern print of a vintage sulfur-toned silver print
Franco-American Museum, Château de Blérancourt

“Last week we found a little girl of about 4, sitting among the ruins of their house, playing with a small piece of wood, which she had wrapped in an old soldier’s gaiter, and was pretending it was a doll. She is going to be on the list of those who receive dolls at Christmas.”
Marion Bartol, volunteer, 1920

Make-believe
Anizy-le-Château, 1919
Modern print of a vintage sulfur-toned silver print
Franco-American Museum, Château de Blérancourt

Children found new – and dangerous – places to explore in their crumbling villages. In this scene, which also appears in one of the committee’s early films, children have fashioned an imaginary shop in a house once occupied by German soldiers. The sign reads SOLDATENHEIM (Soldiers’ Quarters).

“Lately we have been horrified by the number of cases of children who have unfortunately handled grenades or ammunition found in the fields or roadsides; very often a terrible accident is the result.”
Anne Murray Dike, 1919