Women in LOC’s exhibition on WWI American artists.

World War I: American Artists View the Great War,” the Library of Congress’ exhibition on view until 6 May 2017, includes women such as:

Saugstad1

Eugenie De Land works on her Liberty Bond poster. From The Poster. War Souvenir Ed. 1919

Eugenie De Land (Saugstad, 1872–1961). A student of American illustrator Howard Pyle, De Land taught at DC’s Corcoran School of Art and McKinley Technical High School. She married artist Olaf Saugstad, and her works include a portrait of Kate Waller Barrett (on display at William & Mary’s Botetourt Gallery), a mural at the DC headquarters of the Order of the Eastern Star, a portrait of Declaration of Independence signer George Wythe at the Virginia Historical Society, and a painting of Abraham Lincoln at the battle of Fort Stevens donated by the artist to the Lincoln Museum (now under the aegis of Ford’s Theatre). The LOC exhibition features her 1917 Liberty Bond poster.

Kirtland

Helen Warner Johns Kirtland, from her 1917 passport application

Helen Johns Kirtland (1890–1979). Daughter of the founder of Johns-Manville, Kirtland photographed the war on assignments with Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, the Red Cross, and the YMCA. The LOC exhibition features a photo of her at the front dated 1917–18.

Mrs. A. Taylor, a nurse with Anne Morgan and Anne Murray Dike’s American Fund for French Wounded.

Edna M. Walker, Red Cross worker and furniture designer.

Further reading:
Profile of Helen Johns Kirtland, Brooklyn Eagle, 18 Sept. 1927

• “A Woman on the Battle Front” [photos by Helen Johns Kirtland], Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper 24 Aug. 1918. Repr. Around the World with a Camera, New York, 1919.

• List of Eugenie De Land Saugstad’s public artworks

• View illustrations by Eugenie De Land (“Bertha and Laura”; “‘This be a case where history repeats itself'”; “‘Naow, when I wuz in Californy,’ said Farmer Squires to Mrs. Simpson”) in Deborah Gray by Frances C. Ingraham (pseud. of Clara Ingraham Bell), New York, 1903.

 

Velona Pilcher: WWI worker, playwright of “female Journey’s End “

Later, when the camp was asleep, I knew I should be able to hear the hammering of the barrage . . .
— Velona Pilcher, 1919

The blog on playwright, author, and screenwriter R. C. Sherriff (best known for his World War I play Journey’s End, 1928) discusses Sherriff’s acquaintance with Velona Bissell Pilcher (1894–1952), including a May 1929 letter from Pilcher to Sherriff that comments on Journey’s End and her play, The Searcher (1929), which has been described as a “female Journey’s End” in its depiction of a Red Cross worker assigned to track missing soldiers. The Searcher was produced at Yale University in March 1930 (with set design by future Tony winner Donald Oenslager) and at London’s Grafton Theatre in May 1930 (the Times of London reviewer called it “a pretentiously empty piece of expressionism”). Edmund Rubbra composed incidental music for the play, and Blair Hughes-Stanton created stark wood engravings for the published version of the play. In 2008 The Searcher was staged at London’s Greenwich Theatre.

Bissell

Image of Julia Bissell from the San Francisco Call, 7 Feb. 1892

Pilcher’s mother, Julia Velona Bissell, was born in Ohio, and her lawyer father, William Pilcher, was British; the couple married in San Francisco in November 1892. After her parents died, Pilcher was raised in the United States by her aunt, Elise Robinson Townsend. Her great-uncle, George Ellis Pugh, was a lawyer and US senator from Ohio; her cousin, Ada Chalfant Robinson, was an artist. Pilcher seems to have been a writer of early promise, because this issue of St. Nicholas magazine records her winning a $5 first prize in a writing competition at age 16. During World War I Pilcher was a member of the Stanford Women’s Relief Unit, working at the AEF hospital facility at Bazeilles-sur-Meuse. Following initial studies at Mills College, she graduated from Stanford in 1919 with a degree in English.

Pilcher also wrote frequently about the theater, and this 1927 article reported that she was a co-manager of London’s Gate Theatre with Peter Godfrey. This chapter by Charlotte Purkis covers Pilcher’s relationship with famed actress Ellen Terry. The Theatres Trust notes Pilcher’s involvement in establishing an experimental theater club in London’s Watergate Theatre in 1949 that featured two Marc Chagall paintings on the walls (which he donated to the Tate in Pilcher’s memory in 1953).

Further reading:
Velona Pilcher, “A Regular Day at a Red Cross Hut,Stanford Illustrated Review, Mar 1919

Velona Pilcher, “Men Worship Me” (poem about a pine tree), 1917

Charlotte Purkis, “The Mediation of Constructions of Pacifism in Journey’s End and The Searcher, two Contrasting Dramatic Memorials from the Late 1920s,” Journalism Studies 17 (2016), 502–16.

 

Winifred Black, reporter.

winifredblack

Winifred Black. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

“The victory is won, the war is over and he lies dead in Belleau Wood.

And now?”
—Winifred Black, Washington Herald,
4 Feb. 1919: 1–2

In an article about the Washington Post’s move to new quarters, reporter Roxanne Roberts mentions Winifred Sweet Black Bonfils (aka Annie Laurie, 1863–1936), a pioneering Hearst reporter who also wrote about World War I.

The daughter of Union general Benjamin Jeffrey Sweet and a cousin of Texas Siftings editor Alexander Edwin Sweet, Black had a short-lived stint as an actress before joining the San Francisco Examiner. Her first work (under the pseudonym Annie Laurie) resembled Nellie Bly’s stunt journalism, with articles that resulted in health care reforms in San Francisco. The only woman to cover the devastating Galveston hurricane of 1900, she also reported on the San Francisco earthquake of 1906; child labor and juvenile justice issues; the leper colony at Molokai; and the trial of Harry Thaw, who was accused of killing architect Stanford White over “the girl in the red velvet swing” (Evelyn Nesbit).  A familiar columnist on women’s pages, she was one of eight U.S. female correspondents (including novelist Gertrude Atherton and muckraker Ida Tarbell) who covered the peace conference at Versailles. Despite health problems, she continued to write up to her death in 1936.

She married journalist Orlow Black in 1892 (divorced 1897; one son) and Charles Alden Bonfils, brother of the Denver Post publisher, in 1901 (two children).

Some War-Related Articles by Winifred Black
George and His Furlough,” Washington Times 10 Oct. 1917: 11.
Mission of Cheerful Women,” Pittsburgh Gazette Times 3 Nov. 1918: 6.
A Postscript,” Topeka State Journal 30 Nov. 1918: 10.
Sailing for Europe,” South Bend [IN] News-Times 26 Jan. 1919: 5
Wild Flowers Blow Along Belleau Wood,” Washington Herald 4 Feb. 1919: 1–2.
Giving not Losing,” South Bend [IN] News-Times 22 Feb. 1919: 5.
London Adopts U.S. Slang but Wishes All Americans Would Hurry Back Home,” Ogdensburg [NY] News 23 Feb. 1919: 10.
Our Homecoming Boys,” South Bend [IN] News-Times 22 Mar 1919: 5.
Our Girls ‘Over There,’South Bend [IN] News-Times 29 Mar 1919: 5.