"We are wrapped up and saturated with war. Every American here is doing something." - R. Louise Fitch, The Knox Alumnus, August 1918
Hettie Anderson and R. Louise Fitch
R. Louise Fitch graduated as part of Knox's class of 1902. Her brother, George Fitch, also attended Knox College and later became known as a humorist and journalist.
R. Louise Fitch was an early member of Knox College's chapter of Tri Delta, and was affectionately known to her fellow students as "Our Louise Fitch." She graduated from Knox with honors and later served with the Y.W.C.A. during World War I.
In an article entitled "After Thoughts by Adeline: Miss Fitch Turns Back the Clock," the author writes, "Miss Fitch paused a moment. 'Now that women do have suffrage, what have they done with it?' she asserted coming back to the present day. 'They have adopted all the vices of men and politics and added little of good. Might just as well have not had the vote and accomplished as much.'" The author then goes on to comment, "That is a thought to consider with seriousness. Women should be cleaning up politics."
She also warrants a mention in Georgia Finley's letter of August 26, 1918.
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"I have felt this past week almost as though I were back in the United States visiting. That does not sound much like a hard war job, does it? In all the weeks I have been here I have seen very few people I know, but last week my innings came and they all bunched in one week. First, I had dinner with Captain Dean Jay, Knox of my day, who is now assistant to Colonel Dawes in purchasing supplies for Uncle Sam. I have seen him once before over here, so we just began where we left off then and likewise compared a few more war experiences. The Knox people will be interested to know that Dean was sent for one day, rather recently, to come to one of the hospitals and there he found Newman (Pete) Bellis quite badly wounded. Pete has been sent to another hospital and the last Dean knew was improving." -- R. Louise Fitch, published in The Knox Alumnus 2:1 (Oct. 1918): 27.
The Knox Alumnus magazine in Febrary, 1918 reported on R. Louise Fitch's early days of work for the Y.W.C.A.:
"I reached New York about a week before Christmas, intending to stay just a few days. I had been here but a few hours when I was offered this position. I am to do magazine articles telling of the war work of the Y. W. C. A. and I am doing it for the War Work Council of the National Y. W. C. A. board. This means visiting munitions plants, hostess houses, etc., and they especially want me to go to France to tell first hand of the work there. As I have been particularly anxious to go and the rest of the work was quite to my liking, I accepted the job and have been at work for two weeks. I am to go to France not later than February and will be gone for about two months. The first Y. W. C. A. secretary to go over returned on New Year's day for a rest. She said it was very stormy and the boat fairly stood on end all the way home. Sounds quite interesting, doesn't it?"
Obituary for R. Louise Fitch
"Any woman's war work in France sounds rather tame compared with the life of the boys at the fighting front, but while my six months in France brought no thrillers, they were extremely interesting.... I could not have chosen a time to be in France when there was greater contrast in emotion. Last spring, when the German offensive was bringing the fighting closer and closer to Paris and it looked for a time as though Paris were doomed, teh feeling was very tense. There was no excitement and no hysteria, but there was a strange quiet and calm that fairly hurt because of its silence. Everyone was waiting - for what no one knew - but waiting, hoping to be ready for anything. Then later in the summer and early fall when the push was all the other way, the tension loosened, and one could fairly feel the relaxation, both mental and physical, and the gradually increasing certainty that victory was not far ahead. Very little was said, either of discouragement or of rejoicing but one felt it all most keenly.... Incidentally, I visited a number of American and Canadian hospitals, lent a ready ear to every doughboy who wanted to talk, and had the greatly cherished experience a number of times of being the first American woman said doughboys had seen in months. I have yet to have a more fascinating experience... It was hard indeed to leave it all, and but for my promise to come back in time for the United War Work campaign I should surely not be here now. But - it is good to be back again in the land of peace, and plenty of everything." R. Louise Fitch, in a letter published in The Knox Alumnus 2:2 (Dec., 1918): 54-55.
Miss Hettie Anderson was in the Knox class of 1903 and served as the Director General of the Lyons region in France for the War Work Council of the Y.W.C.A.
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"Knox Woman Does Wonderful Work"