1920: AFS adopts the movement

...during the first year after the war, members of the AFS held many consultations to consider ways to continue the work they had begun in 1914. It was finally determined that the most practical and enduring effort would be the establishment of scholarships between French and American universities.

George Rock, "The Fellowships for French Universities" in The History of the American Field Service, New York: Platen Press, 1956.


A decree of the Supreme Judicial Court, of Massachusetts. dated June 11, 1920, approves and orders the transfer of an unexpended fund of approximately 2,400,000 francs belonging to the American Field Service, to the American Field Service Fellowships for French Universities. Upon the income of this amount, and a much larger permanent endowment which must be raised by the friends and members of the Field Service, depends the fulfillment of our project. The purpose of the new effort has not been based merely upon any zeal or loyalty we may justly feel for France, nor upon any single reason. The standard of our late relation there justifies only the best and most lasting object we are now capable of accomplishing. The scholarship plan is the result of long and practical consideration of many possibilities by distinguished men in France and America who, familiar with our whole achievement, understand exactly our assets and ability as a Franco-American organization.

"Our Future Responsibility", American Field Service Bulletin, July 1920

Since the termination of the war, the trustees of the American Field Service, in order to provide an enduring memorial for those of its members who gave their lives to the Cause, and in order to perpetuate among future generations of French and American youth the mutual understanding and fraternity of spirit which marked their relations during the war, have united with the trustees of the American Fellowships in French Universities to establish an organization to be known as the American Field Service Fellowships for French Universities. This organization proposes to award fellowships for advanced study in France to students selected from American colleges, universities, and industrial establishments, as well as fellowships for advanced study in American universities to French students. These fellowships will, when endowed, be named after the men of the American Field Service who died in France; and it is intended, if sufficient funds can be obtained, to name a fellowship in memory of each one of these men. The trustees of the American Field Service and a large number of those who served in it, or who contributed to and worked for it, feel that they could in no better way carry on in times of peace the work undertaken during the war, and the trustees have obtained from the courts authority to devote to this purpose the funds remaining in their hands.

"The Field Service and the Future American Field Service Fellowships for French Universities" in History of the American Field Service in France, "Friends of France," 1914-1917, Told by its Members. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1920. Vol III, Appendix M

The decision of former ambulance drivers to rally around the banner of education was not only part of the Field Service tradition of sharing its experience, but reflected overall concerns in the U.S. military into which AFS had been integrated for the last year of the war.

The war revealed a great need for education among American soldiers in general, a number of whom were illiterate. Moreover, activities of an educational nature were an alternative to less "moral" and hence less desirable soldier pastimes. Add to this the fact that large numbers of American soldiers were "stranded" in France between the Armistice of November 1918 and their demobilization and return home during the first half of 1919. In short, the authorities quickly realized that there was an educational side to soldiering beyond the continual need for military training.

Few Americans have any idea of the educational work of the American Expeditionary Forces. Before the return of the troops, Professor John Erskine of Columbia, who was chairman of the Army Education Commission, was at the head of a force of over seventy thousand teachers and nine hundred thousand students. A great American University had been started at Beaune, seven thousand American collegiate students had been enrolled in fourteen French Universities and two thousand in English universities.

Nearly half of the entire force overseas enjoyed the educational advantages offered by the A. E. F. The wheelhorse in the work of creating this vast organization, and directing it when created, was the man whose portrait M. Bouchor has painted, to be placed in the gallery of the notable leaders in America's overseas effort. The success of Professor Erskine's undertaking proved much more than the profitable diversion of great bodies of men under arms not engaged in fighting. It showed the practicability of utilizing great defensive mobilizations to the end of national education, an end obviously desirable in view of the statistics of American illiteracy. In the A. E. F., two hundred and forty-nine men in every thousand were unable to read and write English.

Another notable result of the attendance of large bodies of American youth at French and English institutions was the promotion of that better understanding of European life and culture, essential to the United States, if we are to fulfill our part as a great nation in the life of the world. The war has passed into history, but the ideas which Professor Erskine contributed as his part in it, have only begun to bear their fruit.

The American Army in France, 1917-1918. Paintings by J.-F. Bouchor, text by Captain David Gray, with an introduction by Lt-Col. Theodore Roosevelt. Boston: Leroy Phillips, 1920.

University exchanges in France were channeled through the National Office of Universities and Schools:

The Office National des Universités et Ecoles has incontestably become the center of intellectual and scientific relations with the United States.[...] Student exchanges have been entirely confided to its responsibility. In 1918 and 1919, one of its principal occupations was the sending of French scholarship holders, both men and women, to America. In a movement of admirable generosity, the Association of American Colleges [...] granted a large number of scholarships to French women- students in university and secondary school, as well as primary-school teachers.[...] That was not all. During the winter of 1918-1919, scholarships were also granted to students who had been wounded during the war. The Office of Universities sent 34. When school resumed in the fall of 1919, 29 scholarships were granted to French university students. Some were sponsored by universities, colleges or technical institutions, others were founded by the Association of American Students who had been welcomed in French universities during the period of demobilization.
To thus mix our young compatriots with American youth, of such different education and social customs, was a rather delicate operation. Precautions were taken, the necessary advice given, and as a whole, everything worked out quite well. A fine thing has been done and will be continued. It will [...] contribute towards bringing together the youths of the two countries, towards dissipating a great deal of prejudice, will open minds and unite hearts.
It would neither have been cordial nor decent to fail to establish a counterpart. The Office of Universities has prompted the French Government to grant scholarships to American women students. [...] It should be added that the Society for American Fellowships in French Universities has sent 8 of its scholarship holders to our universities, at October's resumption of classes.

Special note should be taken, as an event belonging to the history of the war, of the studies made in our universities during the period of demobilization from March to July 1919, by 5,200 American students.

C. Petit-Dutaillis, Relations universitaires de la France avec les Etats-Unis, Cerf, Paris 1919, pp1-2

AFS, then, joined this movement:

Mr. Herrick, having heard that the AFS was interested in a similar project, advised that an alliance of the two was possible. At the conference to consider this, Mr. Herrick and his associates of the Society for American Fellowships in French Universities, in deference to what the AFS had already accomplished for Franco-American relations, offered to give up their own identity and to rename the organization the American Field Service Fellowships for French Universities. The AFS was to be entrusted with the responsibility of administering the work, selecting the fellows, and so forth, aided by the influence and co-operation of the earlier group.

The Fellowship program was begun with the AFS funds left over from the war (authorized by a decree of the Supreme Judiciary Court of Massachusetts, 11 June 1920). At the time of the first reunion, the Association started a campaign to raise a sum sufficient to endow 127 fellowships, one to be named in honor of every member who had given his life in the war. For the year 1919-1920 there were 8 fellows. The following year 22 fellowships were awarded, of which 4 were to former AFS drivers.

The aim of the Fellowships was to

"encourage the development of a body of university scholars who by personal acquaintance with French achievements will be in a position to restore in all branches of American public opinion the just status of French science and learning and a better appreciation of the place of France in the leadership of the world. It is also hoped that through such fellowships the peoples of the world who cherish the same ideals of democracy, justice, and liberty will be helped to know one another better, to understand and appreciate more fully one another's labors and achievements in various fields of human activity and more and more to co-operate in the realization of their common hopes and ambitions."

George Rock, "The Fellowships for French Universities" in The History of the American Field Service, New York: Platen Press, 1956

Now the question was: Could AFS promote international student exchange as effectively as it had sent young men abroad to drive ambulances?

The AFS Fellowships were a pioneer venture, even as the ambulance and camion sections had been. During the war there had been no precedent for light ambulances so close to the front and manned by nationals of a country not involved in the war. In 1920, the only other organized scholastic interchanges were those sponsored since 1903 by the Rhodes Scholarships and since 1911 by the American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowships, both of which were different in scope, purpose, and backing. Individual scholars had, before the war, usually gone to Germany, where scholastic tradition had so much influenced the system developed in the United States. Thus the Fellowships were a "way of carrying the spirit of the 'good old days' into the future," Stephen Galatti wrote in 1922.

George Rock, "The Fellowships for French Universities" in The History of the American Field Service, New York: Platen Press, 1956

* * *

 Science and Learning in France, John H. Wigmore (ed), The Society for American Fellowships in French Universities, 1917.

American Field Service Association Bulletins:

April 1920, "The Future of the Field Service"
July 1920, "Our Future Responsibility"
July 1921, Remarks by President of AFS French Fellowships
May 1922, "The Meaning of Fellowship"
March 1923, "Report on the Fellowship Campaign"

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