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Embroidery Under Fire

Posted on Thu, April 13, 2017
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With male family members at the battlefront, wounded, or killed, French peasant women used their needlework skills to maintain their livelihoods and rebuild their war-torn communities. Thousands of American women volunteers in France, especially those associated with the American Committee for a Devastated France, sponsored them.

Household items they embroidered were sold in America through the Society for Employment of Women, a war relief organization in France. All the proceeds went back to the women and their families. Living and working close to the front, often they took shelter in cellars and underground quarries during shelling of their villages.

Airplanes embroidered on a linen bag.

Brush and comb case depicting airplanes guarding Paris.
Lent by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Embroidered bag with line of soldiers and the dates 1914 to 1918.

Canvas bag wit 1918 and symbol embroidered on center.

Knitting bag with Allied soldiers.
Lent by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

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