Anna Coleman Ladd’s Studio for Portrait Masks, Paris, 1918

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Soldiers Caudron and Cavalliet are playing cards, while wearing Ladd’s Portrait Masks (American Red Cross) 1918

Soldiers Caudron and Cavalliet are playing cards, while wearing Ladd’s Portrait Masks (American Red Cross) 1918

World War I caused the death of millions of combatants and civilians, while countless soldiers suffered from injury and disfigurement. Perhaps the most disheartening were facial injuries, as soldiers had to not only deal with the physical loss, but also the constant psychological stress of wondering how people would react to their changed appearance. These men worried about their homecoming, how they would be treated by friends and family. Many sustained injuries that went beyond the ability of surgery to repair. They were called “mutilés” – soldiers whose faces had been horribly disfigured by the weapons of war. Some were missing an eye, an ear or their nose; some were missing half their jaw or had horrible burns distorting their face. Many of the soldiers refused to leave the hospital. Some committed suicide.

People get used to seeing men with arms and legs missing, but they never get used to an abnormal face.
Lettie Gavin in “American Women in World War I”

The medical community couldn’t help them. These unfortunate soldiers turned to portrait masks. Pioneered by English sculptor Francis Derwent Wood (1871–1926), portrait masks were modelled from photographs taken before the injury and were painted in oils to resemble the former features of the patient.
When Wood was too old (at 41) to enlist in the Army at the onset of World War I, he volunteered in the hospital wards and his exposure to the gruesome injuries inflicted by the new war’s weapons eventually led him to open a special clinic: the Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department, located in the Third London General Hospital, Wandsworth. Instead of the rubber masks used conventionally, Wood constructed masks of thin metal, sculpted to match the portraits of the men in their pre-war normality. Just as had been happening with soldiers operated upon with the recent advances in plastic surgery, Wood’s masks provided each with a renewed self-confidence, even self-respect, though they often proved uncomfortable.
Wood’s work reached America in 1917, and eventually came to the attention of fellow sculptor, Anna Coleman Ladd.
Anna Coleman Ladd (née Watts) (1878–1939) was born in Philadelphia and educated in Europe, where she studied sculpture in Paris and Rome. She moved to Boston in 1905 when she married Dr. Maynard Ladd, and there studied for three years at the Boston Museum School.
In late 1917, Ladd felt an instant need to offer her skills to these recovering soldiers, and left for France under the sponsorship of the American Red Cross. She set up the “Studio for Portrait-Masks”, in Paris, to provide cosmetic masks to be worn by men who had been badly disfigured in war.
Soldiers would come to Ladd’s studio to have a cast made of their face and their features sculpted onto clay or plasticine. This form was then used to construct the prosthetic piece from extremely thin galvanized copper. Then, Ladd would paint the mask while it was on the soldier so that she could achieve a flesh color as close as possible to the real skin tone.
If the disfigurement included the entire mouth, she would model the lips with space to accommodate a cigarette holder.  For those who desired, a moustache could be added. Eyes were painted on if needed but eyelashes, eyebrows and even mustaches were created with fine copper wire that looked natural and would withstand the occasional mustachio twirling so popular with Frenchmen. Most masks were held in place with spectacles but, if a soldier didn’t want glasses, Ladd found alternative methods, like thin wire or ribbon, to secure the mask.
The average cost of the masks was only $18 due, in large part, to the fact that Ladd’s services were donated. Reports vary as to the number of masks that Ladd and her team created. Some say 60, others say over 100. But the impact on the lives of the soldiers they helped—and their families—is immeasurable.
One of Ladd’s patients was a man who had refused for more than two years to return home because he did not want his mother to see him. He lived in seclusion, hiding his gargoyle-like appearance, until he met Ladd.  Wearing the mask Ladd created for him, this young man was finally able to return to his family.
Ladd didn’t want to just hide the soldier’s disfigurement. She wanted to restore his sense of self – “his personality, his hopes and ambitions.” To do this she created a homelike environment where the men would feel at ease. In describing the studio, Ladd said:

“We always tried to keep the place cheerful and frequently had the boys sitting around playing games. . . .  We laughed with them and helped them to forget. That is what they longed for and deeply appreciated.”

After Ladd left Paris in December, 1918, her colleagues and assistants continued the work of the studio for another year before it closed. Her services earned her the Légion d’Honneur Croix de Chevalier and the Serbian Order of Saint Sava.
In 1936, Ladd retired with her husband to California, where she died in 1939.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Anna Coleman Ladd
Wikipedia: Francis Derwent Wood
Red Cross Organisation: Restorative Face Masks for WWI Soldiers
Awesome Stories: Anna Coleman Ladd and her life
Smithsonian Magazine: Faces of War

Anna Coleman Ladd’s Studio for Portrait Masks in Paris

War Garden Girls, Washington D.C., 1919

Restoration & Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Restoration & Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

National Emergency War Gardens Commission. Girl Scouts and others. Washington D.C., 1919 (Harris & Ewing Collection / Library of Congress)

National Emergency War Gardens Commission. Girl Scouts and others. Washington D.C., 1919 (Harris & Ewing Collection / Library of Congress)

Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany during World War I and World War II. They were used along with Rationing Stamps and Cards to reduce pressure on the public food supply.
Food production had fallen dramatically during World War I, especially in Europe, where agricultural labor had been recruited into military service and remaining farms devastated by the conflict.
In March 1917, Charles Lathrop Pack organized the US National War Garden Commission and launched the war garden campaign.
Charles Lathrop Pack (1857–1937), a third-generation timberman, was “one of the five wealthiest men in America prior to World War I”. During World War I, he was a principal organizer and was heavily involved in the war garden movement in the United States. Pack and others conceived the idea that the supply of food could be greatly increased without the use of land and manpower already engaged in agriculture, and without the significant use of transportation facilities needed for the war effort.

Poster for National War Garden Commission, by J.Paul Verrees, 1918

Poster for National War Garden Commission, by J.Paul Verrees, 1918

To support the home garden effort, a United States School Garden Army was launched through the Bureau of Education, and funded by the War Department at President Wilson’s direction.

Food will win the war.”
Pr. Woodrow Wilson

Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front. The campaign promoted the cultivation of available private and public lands, resulting in over five million gardens in the USA and foodstuff production exceeding $1.2 billion by the end of the war.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Victory garden
Wikipedia: Charles Lathrop Pack
City Farmer: How the ‘National Emergency Food Garden Commission’ Will Help the Nation’s Food Supply
Library of Congress
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Red Cross Motor Corps, Washington D.C., 1917

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

A woman from West Virginia who worked for the Red Cross Motor Corps is photographed in Washington, D.C., 1917 (Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress)

A woman from West Virginia who worked for the Red Cross Motor Corps is photographed in Washington, D.C., 1917 (Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress)

The American Red Cross (ARC) is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. It was established in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881, by Clara Barton, who became the first president of the organization. Clara Barton (1821–1912) founded the American chapter after learning of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1869, she went to Europe and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and determined to bring the organization home with her to America.
At the beginning of the WWI, the American Red Cross was a small organization still in the process of developing its identity and programs. When the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917, the organization began a period of extraordinary growth. By the time the war ended in November 1918, the Red Cross had become a major national humanitarian organization with strong leadership, a huge membership base, universal recognition, and a broad and distinguished record of service.
American Red Cross Motor Corps was founded in 1917 by the American Red Cross (ARC). It was organized during World War I primarily to render supplementary aid to the Army and Navy, particularly in removing sick and wounded men from ships and trains to hospitals and homes. The service consisted almost entirely of women volunteers, most of whom used their own cars. Many enrolled in auto mechanics classes in order to be able to make repairs on their cars whenever needed.
The Service cooperate with other Red Cross Departments and Bureaus in calling for and delivering supplies; to carry canteen workers, with their supplies and equipment to points where troops in transit were to be provided with meals; to take Red Cross nurses, and Civilian Relief and Home Service workers on official errands; and to furnish transportation, without cost, for Red Cross activities generally, for local charities and hospitals and dispensaries, and for Liberty Loan Drives, Public Health work, and other government activities.
There was little glamour to attract worker’s to this service, for it was frequently very arduous, carried out under all kinds of conditions, in all weather, and at any time when there was need. In spite of this, the response to the first call for volunteers was generous. By war’s end, there were over 12,000 Motor Corps workers who had clocked a total of more than 3.5 million miles of service on America’s roads.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: American Red Cross
Wikipedia: American Red Cross Motor Corps
American Red Cross: World War I and the American Red Cross
Wikipedia: Clara Barton
witness2fashion: American Red Cross Service Uniforms, 1917
Library of Congress
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Red Cross Motor Corps, 1917, detail

Red Cross Motor Corps, 1917, detail