The AFS Archives consists of over 300 cubic feet of archival material, including documents, photographs, and memorabilia from as early as World War I, when Abram Piatt Andrew, Jr. founded the American Ambulance Field Service in France. The collections are divided into four separate record groups, each representing a separate development and phase of the AFS organization:
The American Field Service was founded after the outbreak of World War I, when young Americans living in Paris volunteered as ambulance drivers at the American Hospital of Paris. AFS participated in every major French battle with the French Armies, and the 2,500 American volunteers carried munitions and supplies as well as more than 500,000 wounded. AFS ceased to exist as an independent ambulance organization in World War I when the United States entered the war in 1917.
Record Group 1 includes official correspondence, diaries and letters of ambulance drivers, identification cards, maps, negatives, lantern slides, photographs and photographic albums, military apparel, and memorabilia related to the establishment of AFS and their participation in World War I.
The American Field Service was reactivated in 1939 at the start of the Second World War under the leadership of Director General Stephen Galatti. American volunteers drove ambulances in France, North Africa, the Middle East, Italy, Germany, and India and Burma. The 2,196 men of the AFS served alongside French, British, Polish, Australian, New Zealand, Indian and South African troops and carried over 700,000 casualties by the end of World War II.
Record Group 2 includes official correspondence, diaries and letters of ambulance drivers, identification cards, maps, negatives, lantern slides, photographs and photographic albums, films, unit rosters, sailing records, personnel files, military apparel, memorabilia, official war diaries, and scrapbooks related to the involvement of AFS in World War II.
The American Field Service Association and the AFS Fellowships for French Universities were established in between World Wars I and II by AFS ambulance drivers who participated in the First World War. The AFS Association coordinated reunions for World War I ambulance drivers, among other activities. The AFS Fellowships for French Universities was a scholarship program established in December 1919 by A. Piatt Andrew, Stephen Galatti, and other AFS ambulance drivers, and funded 222 students on the graduate level to travel to and from France for advanced study until the program was discontinued in 1952.
This record group includes meeting minutes, correspondence, photographs, publicity material, financial statements, and other documents and records generated after World War I related to the AFS Association and the AFS Fellowships for French Universities.
Following World War II, 250 American Field Service ambulance drivers assembled in New York City to discuss the future of the organization. In 1947, they launched the secondary school student exchange program that is now referred to as AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc.
This record group includes negatives photographs and photographic albums, financial records, student rosters, publications, correspondence, scrapbooks, and memorabilia from the student exchange programs of the organization now known as AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc., dating from the end of World War II to the present day. Please note that the AFS Archives does not maintain a database with current Returnee contact information, so we are unable to assist with these types of requests.