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AWHS Artifact of the Month: Near East Relief Effort

This highlight is part of a series to illuminate the advancement of medical women in the last century in order to show where we have been, how far we have come, and to inspire people to rally forward in tradition of selflessness and service. AWHS is a key figure in women’s history with historical materials housed at the Legacy Center, Archives & Special Collections in Philadelphia. Our student members are working to help process these materials in order to keep these stories alive for new generations. To get involved please contact

AWHS Artifact of the Month: Near East Relief Effort
By Dyani A. Loo | July 30, 2013

After the armistice was signed in 1918, many of the US based relief operations abroad were scaled back. As noted in the opening address from the American Women’s Hospitals general meeting in December 19, 1918, ” …the Red Cross suddenly notified us that these units were no longer needed. I cannot describe to you our feelings when we heard this news, – our hearts were so bound up in the units – we had worked so hard and hoped for so much for them. The Serbian Unit has not been cancelled and we are working and hoping that it will soon be dispatched. Dr. Keyes has sent an account of the work she and the devoted women with her are doing.”1

As the Balkan situation deteriorated after WWI, AWHS operations in Serbia continued, with AWHS delivering much needed services from 1918 through the 1920s. AWHS expanded to include Serbia, Greece, Albania, Turkey, Armenia, and Russia which were known collectively as the Near East Effort.


1. AWH Opening address general meeting, American Women’s Hospitals; Legacy Center Archives; Dec. 19, 1918

Today, AWHS continues this tradition of service by supporting 6 independent clinics in the US and 4 overseas to bring care to high-risk populations. The organization also continues to support the training and advancement of women physicians through their annual student travel grant program. Please join AWHS in our nearly 100 years of service by helping to maintain our support for care to those in need.
You can donate online or donate by mail by sending a check (payable to the AMWA-AWHS) to: 12100 Sunset Hills Road Suite 130 Reston, Virginia 20190.

To help by joining the AWHS committee or for more information please email us at You can also visit our Facebook Page to learn more about other AWHS-supported programs

And learn more about the AMWA/AWHS archives at the Legacy Center website.

Jesse Austell

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