Letter from Eleanor "Nora" Saltonstall to Richard Middlecott Saltonstall, 20 October 1918
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[ This description is from the project: Staff Favorites ]
Eleanor "Nora" Saltonstall was born in 1894 to a prominent New England family. In October 1917, as the United States entered World War I, she volunteered with the American Red Cross in France. She worked as an ambulance driver for a mobile hospital and received the Croix de Guerre for evacuating civilians under fire. After returning home she contracted typhoid fever while on a camping trip in the American west and died at the age of 24.
“She is a very different young woman than the one who arrived looking for someone to carry her bags.”
MHS Vice President for Collections Brenda Lawson on the Nora Saltonstall Letters
The World War I letters of Eleanor (Nora) Saltonstall are my favorite collection. She is a young woman serving overseas starting at age 23 and gives such a wonderful picture of what her work was like there. She comes from a prominent political family of means, so when she first arrives her Paris, she comments that there was no one there to carry her bags. Her letters differ depending on who she was writing to. She assures her father that she isn’t nursing (apparently tending to men would not be okay for a young woman of her standing) and tells him there is nothing to worry about, while her letters to her sister and friends share a little more about her perils. She served in a variety of roles, beginning with the Red Cross in Paris, eventually transferring to a French Auto-Chir, a mobile hospital near the front, so she could be closer to the action, and earned the French Croix de Guerre for her service. She was a jack-of-all-trades there, eventually serving as a driver and mechanic. She is a very different young woman than the one who arrived looking for someone to carry her bags.