Engaging with Depths and Differences in Written Reflection (by Chiara Kalogjera-Sackellares)

May 15, 2015

This week, I looked at the Bertha Van Hoosen papers, which are unique in that they cover the life of a well-respected female doctor during early 20th century. Generally when I have read of physicians from this time period, they are all men and the only medical profession the women preform is that of a nurse. Bertha Van Hoosen is outstanding not only for being a female physician during this time period but also for her extraordinary service abroad in France in during the war. Two other collections I had the opportunity to browse this week were the Samuel D. Pepper Papers and the Crawford Family Papers. These papers provided detailed coverage of each man’s experience in the war. While both men has the opportunity to see Paris, develop comradery among his company, and shared an origin in Michigan, their experiences of the war are strikingly different – primarily, I believe due their background and role within the service. Samuel D. Pepper was involved in the legal affairs of the army and saw little of the front. He was clearly higher ranked and his comradery was between him and other officers of rank. On the other hand, Harry Crawford’s letters home provided a much more detailed, dynamic experience of the war. He goes from being an outstanding recruit at training camp to an officer and leader of his company. He leads men in warfare and looks out for all of them. Interestingly though his experience is still different from another soldier’s experience in the war. That is, while Harry Crawford leaves the war having seen some horrors of the war and maintains that loyalty to his company, characteristic of many soldiers of experiences, he does not express negative feelings for his experience in the war. In contrast, Lieutenant John Clark, having seen more tragedies of war is completely done with the experience and while he doesn’t regret his service he is clearly done by the end of the war. Thus, it seems clear that one’s role in the war is indicative of how you might experience and reflect upon the war. Moving forward, I hope to look more at what the experiences of Michigan alumni, students, faculty, and families were at home.