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Author of book about women in World War I to speak May 11

Nancy O'Brien Wagner. Courtesy photo.

Nancy O'Brien Wagner, author of "Alice in France: The World War I Letters of Alice M. O'Brien", will speak Friday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at the Robertson Theatre in Wadena as part of the Spring Legacy Series of the Wadena County Historical Society.

Military rules and social customs prevented women from serving as soldiers on the battlefields of World War I. In March 1918, twenty-six-year-old Alice O'Brien and three close friends set off from New York harbor, bound for wartime France. Unlike the soldiers aboard their ship, they were unpaid volunteers. As the daughter of a wealthy family, Alice had no need to work - no need to go to war. But she also drove her own car, was trained as an auto mechanic, spoke French and had the passion and determination to contribute selflessly to the war effort. Alice and her friends joined hundreds of American women serving as nurses, clerks, drivers and canteen workers for the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organizations. Her letters home, full of breezy gossip and telling detail, describe living conditions, attitudes and actions of French soldiers and civilians and her own remarkable efforts near the front.

This is one of a series of free programs for Spring 2018 from the Wadena Library and the Wadena County Historical Society.

For more information call (218) 631-9079, email or visit