Record Group 7-5-3 Records of Daughters of Charity Service in World War I administrative History

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Record Group 7-5-3
Records of Daughters of Charity Service in World War I

Administrative History
[From Sr. Daniel Hannefin, D.C., Daughters of the Church: A Popular History of the Daughters of Charity in the United States 1809-1987 (New York: New City Press, 1989), p. 209-212. The book is available online at ; print copies are available for reference at the Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise Archives, Emmitsburg, MD.]

When Congress declared war against Germany 2 April 1917, hospitals served by the Daughters of Charity were quick to join the war effort … Only one group of sisters served with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. These were ten Daughters of Charity from the Western Province under the leadership of Sister Chrysostom Moynahan as Chief Nurse. With about one hundred nurses recruited all over the country from hospitals served by the Daughters, they formed the nursing staff of Base Hospital #102 in Vicenza, Italy, the closest base hospital operating near the Italian Front.

The Loyola Unit which staffed Base Hospital #102 had been formed by Doctor Joseph A. Danna of the Loyola University Medical School, New Orleans, and was attached to the 332nd Regiment from Ohio, brigaded with the Italian Armies. Doctor Danna was a fitting director for the Unit because of his experience at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, his leadership among physicians and surgeons of Louisiana, and his fluency in Italian. Sister Chrysostom, though past the preferred Red Cross age limit of forty, was well-equipped for her leadership role. She was the first registered nurse to serve in Alabama; her nursing experience included service in Portsmouth, Virginia, and Fort Thomas, Kentucky, during the Spanish American War. She had also built and administered Saint Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, and laid the groundwork for Saint Margaret's in Montgomery.

Journals kept sporadically by the ten sisters describe boot camp training at Camp Sheridan, Alabama; drills with gas masks (worn with difficulty over the cornette); the rescue of survivors from a torpedoed tanker in mid-Atlantic; a fire in the supply room of the hospital, extinguished by the staff; and watching from the hospital rooftop, in rare off-duty hours, the bursts of shooting from the nearby battle. Several American volunteer ambulance drivers – who brought in more than sixty-six thousand Italian wounded from Caporetto, where there was heavy fighting under German and Austrian fire – were decorated as heroes by the Italian government. One of these, seriously wounded and a patient in the hospital, was Ernest Hemingway.

The Loyola Unit returned home to the States in May 1919.

Scope and content
The collection includes:
Correspondence of Sister Chrysostom Moynahan
Diaries of Sisters Angela Drendel, Catherine Coleman, and Florence Means (these diaries have been transcribed)
Individual and group photographs of all the Sisters who served in Base Hospital 102
A collection of glass plate negatives showing the Sisters’ departure from the United States, their journey overseas, scenes from the War and scenes from various locations in Europe during and after the War

Restrictions on access
No restrictions on access

Finding aids
Unpublished finding aid available for reference at the Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise Archives. Finding aid available online at:

Location of originals
Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise Archives
341 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727

Container Listing

(The World War I records are a subset of RG 7, United States Community History. Boxes 1-7 are on topics other than World War I)

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