Vashti Bartlett on beach in La Panne, Belgium

Vashti Bartlett on beach in La Panne, Belgium, 1915

In October 1915, Vashti Bartlett and the other nurses at Pau relocated to La Panne, on the Belgian coast, where Bartlett served as supervisor of the twenty-four nurses in two units. L’Hopital de l’Ocean was located on a narrow strip of beach between the English Channel and the Belgian trenches and was subjected to German bombs. Bartlett led the units until January 1916, and the Red Cross recalled the Belgian units in May 1916.

Vashti Bartlett's Scrapbook

The vast majority of the people who went with the Mercy Ship expedition were nurses. They included several with connections to Hopkins. A notable example is Vashti Bartlett.  Bartlett had graduated from the Johns Hopkins Hospital Training School of Nurses in 1906. When war erupted in Europe, Bartlett signed on with the second Mercy Ship contingent in 1915. She served at the American Red Cross unit in Pau, France, from March 1915 to October 1915. Then she transferred to La Panne, Belgium, where she served until January 1916. It was the start of a momentous global career, one that would have been unattainable for women earlier in the century.

Bartlett collected many things while working in Belgium. Among them were pieces of art created by her patients. This scrapbook contains several such drawings by patients she cared for while in Belgium. There are a wide range of images, revealing the many ways in which warfare impressed the lives of caregivers and soldiers on the front. The book contains etchings of ruins, caricatures of different people, sketches of bedside care as well as a powerful rendering of trench warfare at night.