Archives On The Air 207: Canteen Girl—Edith K. O. Clark Diaries

Aug 5, 2020

Certificate of Appreciation prepared for the crew of the steamship "Walmer Castle", January 5, 1919. Box 2, Edith K. O. Clark Diaries, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

In November 1918 World War One had just come to an end. But many soldiers remained stationed overseas.

The YMCA developed a program to send young American women to Europe to provide entertainment and comfort to the troops. The women were called "canteen girls" and they served food and drinks from canteens set up in places that had been ravaged by war.

Just after Christmas in 1918, Edith K. O. Clark left Wyoming to become the leader of a group of "canteen girls" that served in France. She kept a detailed diary of her experiences while traveling and living abroad.

YMCA request for troop movement, March 12, 1919. Box 2, Edith K. O. Clark Diaries, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Credit American Heritage Center

As a "canteen girl", she spent her days serving fudge, hot cocoa and lemonade to the troops. In the evenings she dined with Army officers and went to dances with enlisted men.

Learn more about life as a "canteen girl" in the Edith K.O. Clark Diaries at UW's American Heritage Center.