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La Grande Guerre : témoignages, évocations et culte du souvenir‎

The “Grande République” or the “Oncle d’Amérique”: the French State School System and the United States’ War Effort 1914-19191

La « grande République » ou « l’oncle d’Amérique » : le système éducatif en France et l’effort de guerre américain 1914-1919
Susan Finding
p. 83-96

Résumé

L’impact de l’arrivée des troupes américaines en France pendant la Première Guerre mondiale fait l’objet de travaux incomplets. Les archives de l’Instruction publique en France fournissent une source inattendue. Pour maintenir le moral, l’effort américain a été instrumentalisé par les autorités françaises en s’appuyant sur deux arguments reliés, les républiques sœurs et la puissance américaine. Avant l’entrée en guerre des États-Unis d’Amérique, des contacts diplomatiques culturels furent noués et le Ministère de l’Instruction publique se servait de l’exemple américain pour maintenir espoir à l’issue de la guerre. Avec l’arrivée des « Sammies », les organisations volontaires à l’œuvre dans les camps auprès des soldats américains rayonnèrent. Ces programmes d’aide continuèrent après l’Armistice et servirent de modèle à des campagnes de santé publique et de culture populaire en France, coordonnés par le Ministère de l’Éducation. Au final, les exemples américains fournis par la littérature officielle ne furent qu’une aide de plus dans la rhétorique de guerre, où l’oncle d’Amérique reste un parent providentiel mais lointain, admiré et membre de la famille, mais distant.

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Texte intégral

1Anglo-saxon is repeatedly used as a generic term in France, generally to refer to the liberal economic and social model of the late 20th century. It is a sweeping and ill-defined expression, often with negative connotations referring essentially to British and American practices. However the image of America has not always been so controversial. This article examines how the American contribution to the war effort during the First World War was reported in France. More particularly, it looks at the vision of the US as portrayed in the literature and archives of the French school system which not only relayed official versions but also documented local examples of American action in areas other than the military domain.

  • 2 In 1921, there were 120,000 state primary teachers, two-thirds of the teaching corps, educating the (...)
  • 3 See Susan Trouvé-Finding, French Primary School Teachers 1914-1931: their social and political role (...)

2Schools and teachers in the state school system, were ideal vehicles for the dissemination of state information or propaganda. Along with postmen, instituteurs were the only civil servants present in every village in France. Teachers often occupied the most recent, modern building in the village: the mairie-école, built in almost every commune in the late 19th century.2Teachers were under strict hierarchical orders, not only from their inspector, but also from the local mayor. Republican proselytes, French primary teachers were stalwarts of village life and relayed information both to and from their ministry and to and from the villages they worked in. Their contribution to the French war effort was massive and ranged through coordinating food parcels for troops, blanket-square knitting, reading circles, fund and morale raising.3

  • 4 André Kaspi, Le temps des Américains 1917-1918, Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne, 1976.

3Speaking of summer 1917, André Kaspi asks how French people knew about Americans. He answers that question by stating that they knew what they read in the press,4 a press that included the educational weeklies whose articles were used for lessons and talks by the instituteurs in every French village. If the evidence from the education archives is anything to go by, the French learnt about the Americans as much from the evening classes in 24,000 schools in 1917 (“cours d’adultes” were an almost compulsory addition to teachers’ work load) and information meetings (“causeries” or chats) organised systematically throughout the country, and carefully prepared by primary teachers and their hierarchy.

  • 5 See Yann Prouillet, « Les Américains dans les Vosges. 1915-1919 », published in Collectif de Recher (...)

4The arrival of the American army in summer 1917 (as distinct from the independent volunteer or specialist corps such as ambulance men and women or foresters),5 its deployment in France and the withdrawal of its forces two years later, can be mapped, chronologically and geographically, through the bulletins and reports issued by the Ministry of Public Instruction, in the professional press − commercial weeklies produced in large numbers for the teachers − and in teaching union bulletins and various first-hand accounts. In addition, the Rapport sur les œuvres complémentaires de l’école publique, a compilation of reports sent in by every local primary inspector and covering extra-curricular activities, gives a wealth of detail about contacts with troops both French and foreign. These sources, recording voluntary sector activity throughout France, are an unexpected and valuable contribution to the picture portrayed but should be treated with caution as they were undoubtedly part of a propaganda effort.

Cultural diplomacy

5Prior to the American decision in early 1917 to send troops to fight in France, ambassadors had been sent to plead on France’s behalf and establish the righteousness of the cause of this nation, the mother of Human Rights, violated by German aggression. The highest-ranking official in the French educational hierarchy after the Minister, Ferdinand Buisson, thus attended the Oakland International Congress of Education in August 1915. Buisson, a former head of primary education at the Ministry, a former deputy and professor at the Sorbonne, was by then, the editor of the most widely-read primary organ, the officially backed Manuel général de l’Instruction publique. He was also chairman of the Ligue de l’Enseignement, a semi-official umbrella organisation for state school associations, and of the influential republican Ligue des Droits de l’Homme.

  • 6 Ferdinand Buisson, Le Congrès international d’éducation,Paris: Delagrave, 1916.
  • 7 Ferdinand Buisson spoke in December 1916 at the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme. Sophie Lorrain, Des pa (...)
  • 8 Ferdinand Buisson, Impressions d’Amérique, Paris: Ligue de l’Enseignement, n.d. The Ligue de l’Ense (...)

6To understand the impact in France of Ferdinand Buisson’s presence and words in America, one must see him as the semi-official representative of a united, republican France. On his return, conveying the motions passed at the Oakland Congress of world educators to French teachers,6 Buisson contributed to a vision of a war to end wars, which would lead to universal justice, the end of militarism and the abolition of the fear of war.7 The accounts of the visit to America published by Buisson and by Marguerite Clément (a teacher-training specialist and a respected columnist for L’École et la Vie, apopular teachers’ weekly which first came out in 1917) gave the widely reported impression of the exemplary nature of American thinking and methods. Buisson’s Impressions d’Amérique, was printed and distributed to schools throughout France by the Ligue de l’Enseignement.8

7In Atlantic City, Marguerite Clément, enthusiastically received by an audience of 4,000 American education superintendents, defended French language teaching in the following terms:

  • 9 My translation of « Apprenez le français d’abord pour vous battre à nos côtés et puis, plus tard, p (...)

Learn French first to fight at our side, then, later, to bring us your numerous riches, in exchange for ours, learn French to sell us your wonderful machines and to come and learn in our Universities how to make even better ones, for our scholars are knowledgeable, better even than the Germans, our inventions more fruitful and inspired by French intellect.9

  • 10 « Il est un mot américain qui n’a pas de traduction en français et que l’Anglais d’Angleterre ignor (...)
  • 11 My translation of « [...] j’ai tâché de comprendre ce que sont les Américains, quel secours nous po (...)

Clément’s book attempts to describe the ‘American spirit’, and parodying Descartes’s maxim, summarised the American way thus: “J’agis, donc je suis”.10 Her explicit aim was to “understand what Americans are, what aid we can expect from their effort, but also what lessons we should learn from their talent”.11

  • 12 See James Geddes Jr., “Educational Advantages for American Students in France; with a History of th (...)

8Return visits to France were paid by American educators. The President of New York State University, John Finley, brought messages of support from American schools and universities to their French counterparts. His book, Report of a Visit to Schools of France in Wartime, published immediately after his return to the United States in 1917, may be considered as having contributed to that strong wave of sympathy for France that appears to have been felt in the United States both during the period of American neutrality and after. Further rapprochement at higher education level was evidenced by the publication of a guide for American students to French universities.12

  • 13 French Education Ministry Circular, 11 December 1916. The German atrocities debate which began at t (...)

9A more vigourous approach had already been taken by the French Ministry of Public Instruction officials. When 500 American intellectuals launched a petition condemning German aggression in 1916, the French Minister for War, Paul Painlevé, required French instituteurs in the 60,000 state schools in France, to read it aloud to their pupils knowing that the respected voice of the schoolteacher, close to the rural people s/he lived and worked among, would be an effective channel of communication.13 In a similar fashion, in April 1917, once the US had joined the war, a reading of the brochure, published by the Ligue de l’Enseignement, entitled “La Grande République”, retracing American Independence and history, was “authorised”, (i.e. “strongly advised”) by ministerial circular. The closely entwined destinies of the two sister republics were thus officially established and the French state teaching corps, enlisted to defend the nation, could only acquiesce.

  • 14 It was widely believed that primary teachers had accomplished an ideological volte-face between 188 (...)
  • 15 Fédération nationale des amicales d’instituteurs, reported in the widely-read professional weeklies (...)

10This mutual appreciation and support was reinforced by the French primary teachers’ associations. Despite popular pre-war misconceptions about them, teachers were not, on the whole, pacifists,14 but they could certainly be called Wilsonian, for they wholeheartedly approved of President Wilson’s Declaration to Congress of 2 April 1917, in which he announced that the war was a just and lawful war against oppression. The moderate teachers’ union’s Annual Congress in August 1918, in an explicitly-worded motion, reiterated confidence in the allied forces, at a time when victory was not necessarily in sight, “ensuring an enduring and just peace among peoples, such as that set out in the name of the great American democracy, by its illustrious president”.15 Statements of mutual sympathy and shared aims by high-ranking educational officials in France and America form part of what can be termed cultural diplomacy. In French schools the contribution of America to the war effort was emphasised in an effort to shore up slacking morale and combat war weariness as the conflict continued.

Morale boosting

  • 16 John Horne, “A parliamentary state at war: France 1914-1918”, in Art Cosgrove & J. I. McGuire (eds. (...)

11The promotion of good relations between educators in France and America, and the repetition of the message that the peace-loving, progressive republican ally had come to France’s rescue were more than just diplomatic courtesies. Public opinion in France was in fact weary of the war as General Pershing noted in his diary in July 1917. Attempts to redress morale were thus all the more important and the arrival of American troops provided a major stimulus. During the 1917 crisis which affected the ranks of the French army and the labour force, primary teachers were heavily involved in trying to turn around public opinion, in many cases quoting the United States not only as military saviour, but as a model of industriousness and organisation. The size and structure of the American contribution (the first contingent of 15,000 troops arrived at St Nazaire in July 1917 with a final total of 2,000,000 being sent over) were adduced in the battle for moral and intellectual superiority over the German invaders and aggressors, in what John Horne terms the “rhetorical militarisation of the civilian population”.16

  • 17 Reports collected by the local inspector and recorded in a yearly round-up sent to the Ministry. Ar (...)
  • 18 My translation of « Les États-Unis nous apportent un appoint énorme et vraiment décisif ».
  • 19 « L’aide de l’Amérique à la France. » 
  • 20 Le taylorisme, Dans les écoles américaines, L’école force nationale aux États-Unis, Comment les Amé (...)
  • 21 Première rencontre avec l’Amérique, Les sentiments, La mobilisation des capacités, Tous coopèrent, (...)
  • 22 Léon Robelin, editor of Le Journal des Instituteurs, in La Ligue de l’Enseignement, La Ligue de l’E (...)

12A widespread, highly-organised campaign to send “educational” material was deployed to boost civilian morale in which the exemplary organisation and implacable might of the sister republic across the ocean were extolled. “We have put our heart into refuting prevalent dark thoughts we hear of and helping strengthen weakening resolve”, wrote one primary teacher in the Maine-et-Loire of efforts in 1917.17 The professional press and republican propaganda organisations such as the Ligue de l’Enseignement and the Union des Grandes Associations Françaises (founded to combat “enemy propaganda” in March 1917) provided hundreds of examples of lesson plans and brochures to help the teachers in the task of relaying government messages. Pamphlets, articles and posters were issued with various inspirational headlines: “The United States brings us enormous and truly decisive additional aid”ran one title quoting the words of Général Pétain (5 June 1917).18 A slide show illustrating American aid for France19 was produced for evening “causeries” at schools throughout France. Significantly, in the first monthly batch of four posters sent by the Ministry of Public Instruction was one entitled “The American effort” whilst brochures such as “Why we should know about America” and “What the United States brings us” were distributed by the Ligue de l’Enseignement. The professional press contributed to this campaign for “public instruction” with the semi-official Manuel général de l’Instruction publique publishing eight articles about the United States during the 1917-1918 school year20 whilst L’École et la vie printed seven.21 The titles are instructive as to both the choice of subject and the approach. “The enormous input of values of all kinds”, the US’s “economic power” and “methodical and scientific approach” were all underlined by the editor of one teachers’ weekly.22 One can easily imagine the impact of these various “educational aids” as teachers gave talks to pupils and parents using slides, statistics and illustrations from weeklies such as L’Illustration in village schools throughout France.

 “Sammies” at close quarters

  • 23 Antonin Guillot Le camp américain d’Allerey, 1999, <http://www.gwpda.org/wwi-www/Allerey/AllereyTC. (...)

13The main American bases in France were concentrated in four areas: the two principal points of arrival, St Nazaire and Bessans (Bordeaux), and the two major sites of American battle lines: the Aisne and the Côte d’Or. Monographs have been written on the American presence in each of these areas,23 but an overall picture of the Americans in France during 1914-1920 has yet to be drawn using national French and American archives. People living in those areas where Americans were billeted and at points along the specially built railway lines linking port and front line (Tours for instance) also learnt about the Americans from day to day transactions. At both Bessans and at the front, the “gigantism”, mass building of new quaysides and barracks housing up to 25,000 men in one camp (Is-sur-Tille), did not fail to impress.

  • 24 Maurice Roger, « Rapport sur les œuvres complémentaires de l’école publique » [1916-1917, 1917-1918 (...)
  • 25 The row over methods and precedence between French instruction officers and American regimental sta (...)

14American soldiers were not just admired from afar. Adult education classes provided a further direct link with the “Sammies” arriving gradually over the autumn and winter 1917-1918. French language classes were organised by some primary teachers. British “Tommies” had already benefited from them, albeit haphazardly, but it would seem that they now became widespread for the Americans. Classes were offered almost everywhere American camps were to be found: from Ploërmel to the Vosges (Châtillon-sur-Seine, Vesaignes-sur-Marne, Guines, St. Folguin, Paris 18e, Montmorency, Bellac, Murat).24 These French language classes given by civilian teachers are not to be confused with instruction of American troops in the French language by military instructors over which French and American military hierarchies clashed.25

  • 26 La Touraine républicaine, 20 July 1918, quoted in M. L’Héritier, Tours pendant la guerre 1914-1919, (...)

15While Americans were learning French, some French people learnt American, by what was termed in the reports an exchange of friendly services (“un échange de bons procédés”). Mutual understanding and appreciation seem to have been taken to heart. In Tours, where there were 7,000 American soldiers present in July 1918 for a population of 70,000, an American visitor heard school choirs practising the American national anthem and gave money for the annual prize-giving. In return, the pupils, “spontaneously” went to the American hospital that very evening to sing for the wounded and leave money for their care.26 In the Côte d’Or, the local primary inspector responsible for reports on the voluntary out of school contribution (“les œuvres”) of the primary education sector, reported that the local lending library at Châtillon-sur-Seine had lent far fewer books in the winter 1918-1919 due to the influenza outbreak, lack of lighting at home and ... the presence of American contingents in camps in nine-tenths of the local area. The local population had apparently been distracted from serious intellectual endeavour by their close proximity with American soldiers.

American aid

  • 27 YMCA workers were placed at the disposal of the country and ran canteens in US army camps in the US (...)

16The camps were the vector by which the American example was probably most fully appreciated by French people. The means deployed by the American army and the volunteer ancillary organisations for the health and leisure of their men impressed French observers. After the Armistice many of these American programmes were continued and supported reconstruction projects. More than forty American aid committees were at work in France, at first to bring succour to their troops, but very rapidly their remit was extended to helping the French civilian population. The American Red Cross, Knights of Columbus, the American branches of the YMCA,27 the Salvation Army, and the American Library Association, are all mentioned in the French Ministry of Public Instruction reports on the charitable “oeuvres” accomplished.

  • 28 According to the Franco-American Museum at Blérancourt’s website The Anne Morgan Story: “The visiti (...)
  • 29 Ministère de l’Instruction publique, Rapport sur les œuvres complémentaires de l’école publique. Jo (...)
  • 30 Maurice Roger, « Rapport sur les œuvres... 1917-1918 », op. cit., 19 December 1918.

17As early as 1917, American women led by Anne Morgan had helped put the village Blérancourt (Aisne) back on its feet, giving a practical and moral example of the support of an allied nation towards a population that had been mistreated by the enemy, through the Comité d’aide aux régions dévastées (CARD) that Morgan had set up.28 Their success was such that the French (military) administration handed over the organisation of educational and social provision for civilians to the “dames américaines” in four cantons: Soissons, Coucy-le-Château, Vic-sur-Aisne and Anicy-le-Château. They provided books and notebooks, but also helped organise classes on hygiene and domestic economy. “Run in the American way by American ladies”, the library became a training ground for French teachers and librarians from throughout the country including the Bibliothèque nationale, and fixed and mobile libraries were set up in 1921-22, whilst a grant for travel to the US for training in librarianship was established the following year.29 At the end of the war Education Inspector in Chief Maurice Roger remarked that “the idea of libraries considered as an essential instrument by the American Army, fighting far from its homeland, has made many people aware of the usefulness of books. Our associations cannot muster the means available to the 84 YMCA in the United States”.30 The YMCA can also be seen as having contributed to the spread of the use of the cinema in schools. 2400 projections were organised in France each week at the end of the war.

18According to the reports from primary school inspectors, the main thrust of American relief appeared, to those on the ground, to have been concentrated on the fight against illiteracy and for public enlightenment. This was accompanied by an increasing emphasis on health and hygiene, and especially the combat against tuberculosis, one of the main fields of French educational extra-curricular activity in 1920. The sanatorium for state school pupils at Cibeins (Ain) was supported by gifts of money, among the largest of which came from American donors: La Fraternité franco-américaine, the Comité La Fayette and the American Red Cross in particular according to the Roger Reports which relate that in Lyon, in the 1919-1920 school year, the American Red Cross organised conferences with films on tuberculosis in all of the city’s schools, whilst a brochure produced by the Rockefeller Foundation was commented on in the adult classes devoted to hygiene.

19The examples of these libraries and the fight against tuberculosis mark the end of references to the American presence and organisational model in France in the echoes to be found in the professional press and reports from the education system. The ideological debates and preoccupations about employment and pay from 1920 onwards saw the teachers, and the teaching press abandoning international relations and American subjects to concentrate on teachers’ status as civil servants. The centre of interest was moving away from the war and its travails and towards the peace-time reconfiguration of the political arena and professional concerns. Bolsheviks were more pressing subjects of interest than Americans, who, within a year of the Armistice, had left France. It was the least professionally militant journal, the Journal des Instituteurs, which continued to publish the most articles on post-war America (eight in 1919-1920, two in 1920-1922, and three in 1923). The 3rd January 1920 issue reproduces a “lovely little story to read in class” concerning the “adoption” by an American couple of two French orphan girls as honorary grand-daughters, reviving the myth of the (wealthy) American relative, the “oncle d’Amérique”in popular parlance, and making explicit reference to the way in which the American war effort and continuing post-war aid was welcomed.

  • 31 For contemporary French analysis of this point see F. Roz, L’Amérique nouvelle, Paris: Flammarion, (...)

20 The departure of American troops was accompanied by a rapid reduction in the number of articles, except for a few in the context of more general economic or educational pages. The American withdrawal into isolation may have been seen as a disappointment by the French primary teachers who had hoped that President Wilson, portrayed as a hero in their professional press, and his 14 Points would become the basis for a new post-war settlement underscored by the creation of the League of Nations. But, to their dismay (but that is another subject), the US remained resolutely outside this new international organisation and indeed, outside Europe, at least at the official level, for the next generation.31

  • 32 Their presence in France during the Second World War lacks an analysis comparable to that of Juliet (...)

21The impact of the presence of American troops in France during the First World War has still to be fully investigated.32 What must also be explained is the evaporation of French enthusiasm and interest in American might and methods as soon as the troops left. It would seem that that the large number of reports and articles devoted to them in educational circles stemmed not as much from genuine curiosity or from any fundamental affinities, as from a concerted effort by French authorities to use the American model as a morale boosting fillip. In the official literature of the French Education Ministry and professional circles, the “oncle d’Amérique” remained a providential but distant relative, admired and part of the family, but far removed.

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Bibliographie

AMERICAN FRIENDS OF BLERINCOURT, The Anne Morgan Story, 2010, The Franco-American museum of the Château of Blérancourt,

<http://www.americanfriendsofblerancourt.org/history/anne_morgan_story.html>, accessed 27 May 2010.

AUDOUIN-ROUZEAU Stéphane, “Children and the primary schools of France 1914-1918”, in John Horne (ed.), State, Society and Mobilization during the First World War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2002, 39-52.

AUTRIC Raphaëlle, « La rivalité franco-américaine : l’instruction des soldats américains en France (1917-1918) », Revue historique des armées, 246, 2007, <http://rha.revues.org//index2363.html>, accessed 27 May 2010.

BUISSON Ferdinand, Le Congrès international d’éducation, Paris: Delagrave, 1916.

BUISSON Ferdinand, Impressions d’Amérique, Paris: Ligue de l’Enseignement, n.d., [c. 1916].

CLEMENT Marguerite, L’Âme américaine, Paris: A l’œuvre, n.d., [c. 1917].

FINDING Susan, « L’exemple américain vu par le corps primaire français 1916-1919», published in Actes du colloque RÉCIPROCITÉS Pays francophone-pays anglophone, Le Mans: Université du Maine, Collection Études Anglophones, 1996, 257-268.

Finley John H., Report of a Visit to Schools of France in Wartime, University of New York State, 1917.

FRIENDS of FRANCE, The Field Service of the American Ambulance described by its members, n.d. [c. 1917].

Gardiner Juliet, “Overpaid, Oversexed, and over Here”: The American GI in World War II Britain, New York: Abbeville Press Inc., 1992.

GEDDES James Jr., “Educational Advantages for American Students in France; with a History of the Recent Changes in its University System”, Appendix I, in John H. Wigmore, Science and Learning in France, with a Survey of Opportunities for American Students in French Universities: an Appreciation by American Scholars, Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1917.

Guillot Antonin, Le camp américain d’Allerey, 1999. <http://www.
gwpda.org/wwi-www/Allerey/AllereyTC.html
>, accessed February 2010.

HORNE John, A parliamentary state at war: France 1914-1918”, in Art Cosgrove & J. I. McGuire (eds.), Parliament and Community, Belfast: Appletree Press, 1983.

HORNE John & Alan KRAMER, German Atrocities, 1914. A History of Denial, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001.

Kaspi André, Le temps des Américains 1917-1918, Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne, 1976.

L’Héritier M., Tours pendant la guerre 1914-1919, Paris: A. Coste, 1924.

LIGUE de l’ENSEIGNEMENT, La Ligue de l’Enseignement pendant la guerre,Paris, 1919, 2 vols..

LIGUE de l’ENSEIGNEMENT, La Ligue de l’Enseignement depuis la guerre, Paris, 1920.

LORRAIN Sophie, Des pacifistes français et allemands, pionniers de l’entente franco-allemande, Paris: L’Harmattan, 1999.

Meigs Mark, « Les Américains dans la Grande Guerre »,published in Collectif de Recherche International et de Débat sur la Grande Guerre, Compte-rendu des interventions au salon du livre de Suippes dans le cadre de l’exposition « Wake up America », médiathèque de Suippes (Marne), 17 November 2007, <http://www.crid1418.org/actualites/suippes_
07.html
>, accessed 18 February 2010.

Mercier Jean-Pierre, Camps américains en Aquitaine, Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire: A. Sutton, 2009.

Nouailhat Yves-Henri, « Les Américains à Nantes et Saint-Nazaire, 1917-1919 », Annales littéraires de l’Université de Nantes, fasc.4, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1972.

PEISER Gustave, Ecole publique, Ecole privée et Laïcité en France », Cahiers d’Etudes sur la Méditerranée Orientale et le monde Turco-Iranien, 19, 1995, on line version <http://cemoti.revues.org/ 1699>, accessed 14 December 2011.

Perriaux Lucien, Le Camp américain de Beaune : 1918 Hôpital de campagne; 1919 Université américaine, Beaune: Centre Beaunois d’Etudes Historiques, 1980, 33 p.

Pershing John, Mes souvenirs de guerre, Paris: Plon, 1931.

Prouillet Yann, « Les Américains dans les Vosges. 1915– 1919»,published in Collectif de Recherche International et de Débat sur la Grande Guerre, Compte-rendu des interventions au salon du livre de Suippes dans le cadre de l’exposition « Wake up America », médiathèque de Suippes (Marne), 17 November 2007, <http://www.crid1418.org/actualites/
suippes_07.html
>, accessed 18 February 2010.

Roz F., L’Amérique nouvelle, Paris: Flammarion, 1923.

SIEGEL Mona L., The Moral Disarmament of France, Education, Pacifism and Patriotism, 1914-1930, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Tardieu André, Devant l’obstacle. L’Amérique et nous, Paris, Emile-Paul Frères, 1923.

Trouvé-Finding Susan, French Primary School Teachers 1914-1931: their social and political role, D.Phil. thesis, University of Sussex, 1988.

Exhibitions and museum sources

« Amis de l’ambulance américaine, de l’Argonne aux Vosges », Exposition à l’Hôtel de Ville de Toul, (Exhibition at Toul Town Hall) 2005.

 “American Women Rebuilding France, 1917-1924”, National World War I Museum, Kansas City, USA, May 4 - July 11, 2010.

Wake up America “, médiathèque de Suippes (Marne), 17 November 2007, <http://www.crid1418.org/actualites/suippes_07.html>.

« Voilà les Américains », Service éducatif, Archives départementales de la Côte-d’Or, <http://www.archives.cotedor.fr/jahia/webdav/shared/do
cuments/activites_culturelles/service_educatif/document_du_mois/10_2010.pdf
>.

Periodicals 1914-1923

Manuel général de l’Instruction publique ;

L’École de la Vie ;

Le Journal des Instituteurs.

Archives

Journal officiel annexe, 4 October 1917, 19 December 1918, 22 December 1919, 6 April 1921, 25 June 1922, 10 August 1923. Maurice Roger, « Rapport sur les œuvres complémentaires de l’école publique », 1916-1917, 1917-1918, 1918-1919, 1919-1920, 1920-1921, 1921-1922.

Archives départementales du Maine-et-Loire 391 T 75.

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Notes

1 I first explored this topic in “L’Exemple américain vu par le corps primaire français 1916-1919”, published in Actes du colloque RÉCIPROCITÉS Pays francophone-pays anglophone,Le Mans: Université du Maine, Collection Études Anglophones, 1996, 257-268.

2 In 1921, there were 120,000 state primary teachers, two-thirds of the teaching corps, educating the vast majority of the 3 million children between the ages of 6 and 13, in 68,500 state elementary schools throughout the country. Private (Catholic) primary schools numbered 12,000 and were concentrated in Brittany, the North-East (around Lille) and the South-East (around Lyon). While the Falloux Law (1851) granted church schools official recognition, the Ferry Laws (1881, 1882 and 1886) established free, compulsory state education and the 1886 Goblet Law secularised the teaching corps. The separation of Church and State enacted by laws passed in 1901 and 1904 reinforced the secular republican school system. See Gustave Peiser, « Ecole publique, Ecole privée et Laïcité en France », Cahiers d’Études sur la Méditerranée Orientale et le monde Turco-Iranien, 19, 1995, <http://cemoti.revues.org/1699>, accessed 14 December 2011.

3 See Susan Trouvé-Finding, French Primary School Teachers 1914-1931: their social and political role, D.Phil. thesis, University of Sussex, 1988; Stéphane Audouin-Rouzeau, “Children and the primary schools of France 1914-1918”, in John Horne (ed.), State, Society and Mobilization during the First World War,Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

4 André Kaspi, Le temps des Américains 1917-1918, Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne, 1976.

5 See Yann Prouillet, « Les Américains dans les Vosges. 1915-1919 », published in Collectif de Recherche International et de Débat sur la Grande Guerre, Compte-rendu des interventions au salon du livre de Suippes dans le cadre de l’exposition « Wake up America », médiathèque de Suippes (Marne), 17 November 2007, <http://www.crid1418.org/actualites/suippes_07.html>, accessed 18 February 2010; Friends of France, The Field Service of the American Ambulance described by its members, n.d., [c. 1917].

6 Ferdinand Buisson, Le Congrès international d’éducation,Paris: Delagrave, 1916.

7 Ferdinand Buisson spoke in December 1916 at the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme. Sophie Lorrain, Des pacifistes français et allemands, pionniers de l’entente franco-allemande,Paris: L’Harmattan, 1999, 127. The theme of pacifism in educational circles is pursued in Mona L. Siegel, The Moral Disarmament of France, Education, Pacifism and Patriotism, 1914-1930, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. In 1927, Ferdinand Buisson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the German Ludwig Quidde in recognition for their work in favour of education for peace.

8 Ferdinand Buisson, Impressions d’Amérique, Paris: Ligue de l’Enseignement, n.d. The Ligue de l’Enseignement,founded in 1894, was a federation of educational associations, 5,000 in 1914, presided over by leading lights of republican educational effort and propounding social solidarity. State primary teachers made up the most numerous group of members. During the war, the Ligue de l’Enseignement distributed posters and postcards, half a million pamphlets, and nearly a million books, the majority of which would have been sent to schools. Léon Robelin, « Rapport moral, 35e congrès, Paris, 23-24 septembre 1919 », in La Ligue de l’Enseignement, La Ligue de l’Enseignement depuis la guerre,Paris, 1920, 180-181; Trouvé-Finding, French Primary School Teachers …, op. cit., 51-54, 160-161.

9 My translation of « Apprenez le français d’abord pour vous battre à nos côtés et puis, plus tard, pour nous apporter, en échange des nôtres, vos innombrables richesses ; pour nous vendre vos belles machines et venir apprendre de nos Universités à en faire d’autres, plus belles, car nous avons de grands savants, plus grands que ceux d’Allemagne ; et les inventions les plus fécondes, c’est souvent chez nous que l’esprit les souffle », Marguerite Clément, L’Âme américaine, Paris: A l’oeuvre, n.d., 8-9.

10 « Il est un mot américain qui n’a pas de traduction en français et que l’Anglais d’Angleterre ignore; ce mot, qui remplit tous leurs journaux là-bas, est le mot efficiency ; il signifie à la fois la rapidité, la puissance et l’ingéniosité dans l’action. C’est le plus grand éloge qu’ils décernent à une administration ou à une machine. Est "efficient" celui qui décide, qui produit, qui marche. "Je pense, donc je suis", disait notre Descartes. “J’agis, donc je suis”, proclame un Américain », Ibid., 17.

11 My translation of « [...] j’ai tâché de comprendre ce que sont les Américains, quel secours nous pouvions espérer de leur effort, mais aussi quelles leçons nous devrions prendre de leur génie », Ibid., 5.

12 See James Geddes Jr., “Educational Advantages for American Students in France; with a History of the Recent Changes in its University System”, Appendix I, in John H. Wigmore (ed.), Science and Learning in France, with a Survey of Opportunities for American Students in French Universities: an Appreciation by American Scholars, Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1917.

13 French Education Ministry Circular, 11 December 1916. The German atrocities debate which began at the end of 1914 gave the opportunity to underline French educational aims and methods and defence of Human Rights, Trouvé-Finding, French Primary Teachers …, op. cit., 158-161. See also John Horne & Alan Kramer, German Atrocities, 1914. A History of Denial, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2001.

14 It was widely believed that primary teachers had accomplished an ideological volte-face between 1880 and 1914 transferring their convictions from unreserved nationalism to all-embracing pacifism. But the stereotype of the antipatriotic primary teacher had been scotched as the valour of teachers fighting in the trenches was recognised and their contribution to the nation’s defence was extolled. See Trouvé-Finding, French Primary Teachers …, op. cit..

15 Fédération nationale des amicales d’instituteurs, reported in the widely-read professional weeklies Manuel général de l’instruction publique and Le Journal des Instituteurs (my translation).

16 John Horne, “A parliamentary state at war: France 1914-1918”, in Art Cosgrove & J. I. McGuire (eds.), Parliament and Community,Belfast: Appletree Press, 1983, 221.

17 Reports collected by the local inspector and recorded in a yearly round-up sent to the Ministry. Archives départementales du Maine et Loire, 391 T 75, 26 December 1917.

18 My translation of « Les États-Unis nous apportent un appoint énorme et vraiment décisif ».

19 « L’aide de l’Amérique à la France. » 

20 Le taylorisme, Dans les écoles américaines, L’école force nationale aux États-Unis, Comment les Américains sont venus à nous, Ce que les Américains nous apportent, Sympathies américaines, La production agricole aux États-Unis, Dans un ministère américain.

21 Première rencontre avec l’Amérique, Les sentiments, La mobilisation des capacités, Tous coopèrent, Le rôle des Universités pour la guerre, Lents débuts, prompts résultats, Capital et travail.

22 Léon Robelin, editor of Le Journal des Instituteurs, in La Ligue de l’Enseignement, La Ligue de l’Enseignement pendant la guerre, Paris, 1919.

23 Antonin Guillot Le camp américain d’Allerey, 1999, <http://www.gwpda.org/wwi-www
/Allerey/AllereyTC.html
>, accessed February 2010; Jean-Pierre Mercier, Camps américains en Aquitaine, Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire: A. Sutton, 2009; Yves-Henri Nouailhat, « Les Américains à Nantes et Saint-Nazaire, 1917-1919 », Annales littéraires de l’Université de Nantes, fasc.4, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1972 ; Lucien Perriaux, Le Camp américain de Beaune : 1918 Hôpital de campagne; 1919 Université américaine, Beaune: Centre Beaunois d’Etudes Historiques, 1980; Yann Prouillet, op. cit..

24 Maurice Roger, « Rapport sur les œuvres complémentaires de l’école publique » [1916-1917, 1917-1918, 1918-1919, 1919-1920, 1920-1921, 1921-1922], published in the Journal officiel annexe, [4 October 1917, 19 December 1918, 22 December 1919, 6 April 1921, 25 June 1922, 10 August 1923].

25 The row over methods and precedence between French instruction officers and American regimental staff revealed a clash between military cultures in the two armies. Raphaëlle Autric, « La rivalité franco-américaine : l’instruction des soldats américains en France (1917-1918) », Revue historique des armées, 246, 2007, <http://rha.revues.org//index2363.html>, accessed 27 May 2010.

26 La Touraine républicaine, 20 July 1918, quoted in M. L’Héritier, Tours pendant la guerre 1914-1919, Paris: A. Coste, 1924, 171, 176.

27 YMCA workers were placed at the disposal of the country and ran canteens in US army camps in the USA and France, extending its remit to relief for refugees amongst others.

28 According to the Franco-American Museum at Blérancourt’s website The Anne Morgan Story: “The visiting nurse services throughout Picardie are active today under local administration but still are remembered as a contribution initiated by CARD. The Picardie experience with children’s libraries was repeated in Paris and has exerted a significant influence throughout the country. Public lending libraries in France today reflect the energy of CARD’s efforts in Picardie” [sic], 2010. <http://www.americanfriendsofblerancourt.org/history/anne_morgan
_story.html>, accessed 27 May 2010.

29 Ministère de l’Instruction publique, Rapport sur les œuvres complémentaires de l’école publique. Journal officiel annexe, 1921, 205; 1923, 1230. See also National World War I Museum, Kansas City, USA, “American Women Rebuilding France, 1917-1924”, exhibition, May 4-July 11, 2010.

30 Maurice Roger, « Rapport sur les œuvres... 1917-1918 », op. cit., 19 December 1918.

31 For contemporary French analysis of this point see F. Roz, L’Amérique nouvelle, Paris: Flammarion, 1923 and André Tardieu, Devant l’obstacle. L’Amérique et nous, Paris: Emile-Paul Frères, 1923.

32 Their presence in France during the Second World War lacks an analysis comparable to that of Juliet Gardiner, “Overpaid, Oversexed, and over Here”: The American GI in World War II Britain, New York: Abbeville Press Inc., 1992.

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Susan Finding, « The “Grande République” or the “Oncle d’Amérique”: the French State School System and the United States’ War Effort 1914-1919 », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal, Vol. X – n° 1 | -1, 83-96.

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Susan Finding, « The “Grande République” or the “Oncle d’Amérique”: the French State School System and the United States’ War Effort 1914-1919 », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], Vol. X – n° 1 | 2012, mis en ligne le 13 mars 2012, consulté le 24 avril 2014. URL : http://lisa.revues.org/4858 ; DOI : 10.4000/lisa.4858

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Susan Finding

Susan Finding est Professeur d’études anglophones à l’Université de Poitiers et directrice de l’équipe de recherche MIMMOC (Mémoire, Identité, Marginalité dans le Monde Occidental Contemporain). Elle a dirigé, seule ou en collaboration, sept ouvrages d’histoire sociale et politique du Royaume-Uni et publié une quarantaine d’articles sur les politiques sociales, l’histoire de l’éducation, et les enjeux du pouvoir politique.

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