Lucy Jenkins Franklin’s Advice

by Mary Goljenboom

A can-do spirit marked the generation of young women attending college in the 1920s. They’d witnessed women’s great power and influence in enacting prohibition and voting rights. They’d seen how, during World War I, women not only had filled jobs traditionally held by men, but had excelled in them. They believed deeply that their success—in school or in their future careers—depended on their own determination and hard work.

This ambitious generation wanted to shape their futures: earn a living by performing meaningful work, live independently in apartments instead of in the family house, make their own decisions about friends and activities. The lives of their mothers and grandmothers, limited to the home, were too restricted for these independent young women.

But figuring out how to get the most from life raised many questions, offered many paths, and required many decisions. For the three thousand female students enrolled at Boston University in 1925, Lucy Jenkins Franklin, the university’s first dean of women, was there to help. “I’m here as an advisor, to make college, if possible, a happier and more beneficial place for our girls, and to make life more glorious.”

Franklin was familiar with the questions and decisions that perplexed her students. They weren’t that different from ones she and her classmates had twenty-five years earlier when Franklin was an undergraduate. She’d made choices in the ensuing years: studying oratory (public speaking) at Ohio Wesleyan University, where she earned a BA in 1904 and an MA three years later. Choosing a career in academia supplemented with occasional public performances created from popular works of the day, like Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. She’d married another academic, a professor of English, and had a child. She put together a life that included both career and family.

The current generation had opportunities in fields and professions that, twenty years before, Franklin and her cohorts could only dream of. Franklin believed modern young women needed to be educated differently than she and her classmates had been. “They must be trained for leadership whereas in the past they [young women] were merely protected and given an appreciation of the cultural advantages of an education,” she told the Boston Globe soon after starting at the university in December 1924.

Modern young women needed to be prepared to take an active part in life, Franklin believed, and that preparation started at the university. Franklin’s duties as dean of women included vocational advising to help students choose a field and take the classes necessary to get a job upon graduation.

Books, bibliographies, and brochures supplied the information, produced by individuals (like Catherine Filene who published Careers for Women in 1920) and organizations. Franklin used resources from the Bureau of Vocational Information (BVI), an educational research group headed by Emma P. Hirth. BVI collected data about fields that employed college-educated women. That data included: training required for the field; personal qualifications; best methods of entering the field; kinds of positions available and their duties; working conditions; salary ranges; and opportunities for advancement.

“I keep in touch with the bureau, so that I’ve a prospective job for every girl who wants one,” Franklin explained to a news service reporter in early 1925. “I’m here to suggest openings for girls who haven’t any idea of what they’d like to do.”

She also had a suggestions for young women grappling with the question of career or marriage and family. “My advice to girls who are contemplating matrimony and wavering between housework and business is, Try them both. If you are a competent enough woman, you can swing them. If they’re too much for you, give up the job.”

Franklin believed that every woman ultimately wanted “love, husband, home, and babies” and should, therefore, prioritize home life. “When a woman marries, her home, I feel sure, must mean more to her than this matter of economic independence.”

But room could be made for a career. Franklin had continued to work after her 1910 marriage but, when her son was born four years later, she stayed home. “I gave up five years to him and went back to work again. He was old enough then to leave in the care of my maid.”

A schedule, a cooperative husband who didn’t object to her working, and a maid to handle housework and childcare allowed Franklin to join Evansville College’s faculty in 1919 and Boston University’s five years later (her husband was also a faculty member at both schools). She scheduled breakfast and dinner as family time, although sometimes her work obligations (meetings, speeches, etc.) forced her to miss the family’s evening meal. At her son’s bedtime, one of the parents, usually Lucy, told him a story.

Franklin assumed without question that it was her responsibility—and that of every other married woman—to manage the household and family. She also assumed that a married woman’s income could be lost without deeply damaging the family’s financial wellbeing. Consequently, women had to find supports (like she did) or make trade-offs. “If hustling off to business each morning and coming home all weary to a disordered home and a delicatessen meal takes all the romance out of business, then my advice is stay home, young woman, and put your house in order,” she said in 1925. “But if you can keep your place well-ordered and your husband happy, and your children good, and rate a pay envelope on the side, then all power to you!” That remained her advice until she retired from BU in 1945.

Lucy Jenkins Franklin firmly believed in women’s education and ability to shape their futures. She helped Boston University’s female students plan careers and find meaningful work to support the independent lives they desired. She also advised her students to make choices that prioritized husband, home, and family, advise that many acted on. Above all, she believed that “there’s precious little a woman can’t do if she wants to badly enough.”

“Modern Girl All Right, Says New Dean of B.U.,” Boston Globe, 14 December 1924, accessed via

“The First Dean of Women in American Education,” Tacoma (WA) Sunday Ledger, 8 February 1925, accessed via [Note: Contrary to what the article’s title might suggest, Lucy Jenkins Franklin was not the first woman appointed dean of women at an American college. She was Boston University’s first dean of women.]

“Mrs. George B. Franklin Now Winning New Laurels,” Atlanta Constitution, 18 August 1912, accessed via

“Lucy D. Jenkins Impersonator. Will Give Interpretative Recital at Euclid Avenue Friday Evening,” Zanesville (OH) Times Recorder, 9 April 1907, accessed via

Career & Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey Toward Equity by Claudia Goldin (Princeton University Press, 2021)

Beyond the Typewriter: Gender, Class, and the Origins of Modern American Office Work, 1900—1930 by Sharon Hartman Strom (University of Illinois Press, 1992)

Lost Girls: The Invention of the Flapper by Linda Simon (Reaktion Books, 2017)

Boston University Annual Report of the President of the University for the Year 1924-1925, v.14 no.32 presented Nov. 24, 1925, accessed via Haithi Trust Digital Library

A history of the Position of Dean of Women in a Selected Group of Co-Educational Colleges and Universities in the United States by Lulu Holmes, PhD (Teachers College, Columbia University, 1939), accessed via Haithi Trust Digital Library

Training for the Professions and Allied Occupations; Facilities Available to Women in the United States by The Bureau of Vocational Information, (1924) accessed via Haithi Trust Digital Library$b45940

Careers for Women, edited by Catherine Filene (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920) accessed via Haithi Trust Digital Library$b385238

A Guide to the Study Of Occupations: A Selected Critical Bibliography of the Common Occupations with Specific References for Their Study by Frederick J. Allen prepared under the auspices of the Bureau of Vocational Guidance, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University (1921) accessed via Haithi Trust Digital Library

Library Work: An Opportunity for College Women by American Library Association (1920) accessed via Haithi Trust Digital Library

“The New Position of Women in American Industry,” Bulletin of the Women’s Bureau, no.12, (US Dept of Labor, 1920) accessed via Haithi Trust Digital Library

“Married women in industry” by Mary N. Winslow, Bulletin of the Women’s Bureau, no.38 (US Dept. of Labor, 1924) accessed via Haithi Trust Digital Library

Copyright © 2022 Ferret Research, Inc.

Marked Foresight and Sound Judgement: Mary Vail Andress, ARC

by Mary Goljenboom

Mary Vail Andress and other American Red Cross workers, Toul railroad station, March 7, 1918
Red Cross workers including Toul Canteen director Mary Vail Andress (woman on the left) distributing refreshments to the 5th Regt. Field Artillerymen on the way to the British-French front. Toul railroad station, March 7, 1918. Photo from the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

In 1917, after the US had entered World War I, the American Red Cross put out a call for volunteers to run canteens in France. Mary Vail Andress answered. She easily met the requirements. At 34 years old, she was in good health and on the young side of age the prerequisite. Having operated a school in Paris for American girls until war had broken out in 1914, she already spoke French. She was able to pay all her own expenses. While she had no experience with the American Red Cross (ARC), she knew the service sector: in addition to running her school, she’d also worked for the New York Settlement house. Quickly selected, by late summer, Andress was in France with ARC’s Canteen Corps.

Canteens provided weary soldiers with rest and refreshments. The Red Cross worked with officials of both the French military and the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) to open, staff, and supply canteens where they would most benefit soldiers: both at railway stations to serve soldiers in transit and, more dangerously, just behind the battlefront. No matter the flag under which the allied soldiers served, they could find hot or cold drinks, sandwiches, candies, chocolates, cookies, fruit, and a place to relax at an American Red Cross canteen.

It took some persuasion for Andress to get an assignment in the field. She initially worked  in Paris as the assistant to the director of the canteen service, according to Edward Hungerford in his book With the Doughboy in France (1920). Her desire for more active duty was eventually granted. After completing several short-term jobs at canteens in Épernay and Chantilly, she was assigned to direct a small French railway canteen at Toul, on the Moselle River in northeastern France. She arrived in January 1918.

Toul, because of its location on major rail lines and closeness to battlefields at Nancy and Verdun, was becoming an important military center for transporting soldiers, supplies, and equipment. Later that year it would become the headquarters of the US Second Army. Toul often was the last canteen for soldiers headed to the German front and the first for those leaving the battlefield with injuries or on leave.

ARC Rest Station, Toul. June 1918
An ARC worker with soldiers outside the ARC’s tent outside the Toul train station, June 22, 1918. Photo by Lewis W. Hine/American National Red Cross Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

It was clear to Andress that the little French canteen at the railway station would need to be re-outfitted to serve more soldiers—many more. She envisioned facilities like those in Paris and Épernay, where she’d been assigned earlier. There soldiers could buy (at minimal cost) not only snacks, sandwiches, and drinks, but also full meals of soup, meat, vegetables, salads, bread, cheese, and eggs. These canteens had sleeping rooms, showers, recreation areas, and rooms for letter-writing or reading. Andress wanted to offer the soldiers stopping off at Toul all these services and comforts. The question was, How?

Her solution was multi-pronged. To give increasing numbers of traveling soldiers easier access to the railway canteen, she moved it into a 50-foot tent in the railway yard. This took copious amounts of persuasion, but Andress kept at it until she secured the necessary authorizations from railroad, military, and Red Cross officials.

Toul, France. Exterior of the American Red Cross Officer's Rest House
Exterior of the American Red Cross Officer’s Rest House, Toul, Nov. 1918. Mary Vail Andress (on the right in the doorway) with her colleague Ruth Smith. The soldiers are Pvt. Herbert Roylance and Pvt. J. Murphy, both of the 51st Pioneers. Joseph, a Frenchman, holds a broom. Photo from the American National Red Cross Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

She found and rented a three-story apartment house a short walk from the railroad station. This was converted into a rest house. Twenty-five beds for officers were on the first two floors and eight more for enlisted men on the top floor. Food and showers were also available.

The building that became her main facility, the Hôtel de la Gare, was across the street from the train station. Andress rented it and then adapted it for the needs of soldiers. In the basement, she added showers that could accommodate up to sixteen men at a time. The kitchen produced full meals, thick sandwiches, hot dogs, doughnuts, cookies, and coffee brewed in ten-gallon marmites. Soldiers could buy candies, chocolates, and chewing gum, and canned goods like jam. Other items—toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors and blades, soap, towels, combs, brushes, handkerchiefs, underwear, socks, sweaters, cigarettes, playing cards, checkers—were also available, some at minimal cost, some given away. There was a writing room with stationery, postcards, pencils, pens, and ink, as well as a reading room with as many newspapers, magazines, and books as could be collected. There were 400 beds plus a system for announcing trains so that sleeping soldiers didn’t miss their departures.

American Red CrosCanteen & Rest House, at Toul France, Nov. 1918
The American Red Cross Canteen and Rest House at Toul (Meurthe et Moselle), France. ARC director Mary Vail Andress at center front. Photo from the American National Red Cross Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Andress and her growing staff worked tirelessly to get each venue operating. Demand was high. By June, during the build-up for major military campaigns conducted in the summer and fall of 1918, the Toul canteen was serving 3,000 troops a day. Days were filled with cooking, baking, cleaning and—above all—friendly and upbeat conversation with soldiers. Shifts could run ten, twelve, fourteen hours or more. The search for supplies and provisions was endless, keeping Andress’s supply officer on the road between ARC warehouses, French and AEF commissaries, and local markets. A new, enlarged canteen was built in the plaza in front of the railway station and a small one placed in the yard on one of the platforms to serve those not able to leave trains. Sometimes even the nighttime was overactive with the sounds of artillery at the not-too-distant front.

ARC Canteen at Toul, France. Nov. 1918
Doughnuts, coffee, and sandwiches at the American Red Cross Canteen at Toul, France, Nov. 1918. Shown: Miss Mildred Cowing, of Wyoming, OH, Miss Mary Vail Andress of Sparta, NY, [third ARC worker is unidentified]. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

As busy as Andress’s Toul operations were during the war, their biggest test came after the November 11, 1918 armistice. For months, hundreds of thousands of AEF soldiers returned from battlefields, passing through Toul as they headed to French ports and home. Shortly after the armistice, 11,000 arrived in a single day. After that, it averaged 6,000-7,000 daily for months, according to Carter H. Harrison, an ARC manager at the Red Cross hospital in Toul who tells much of Andress’s story in his memoir With the American Red Cross in France.

Interior of American Red Cross Enlisted Men's Hotel at Toul, Fra
Soldiers in the lunch room of the American Red Cross Enlisted Men’s Hotel at Toul, Nov. 1918. Photo from the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

The Red Cross Bulletin of July 1919, published highlights from a year-end report about the Toul operation, and the article was subsequently reprinted in newspapers across the country. The 1.6 million soldiers who passed through the canteen during the previous eleven months had eaten 1,561,625 well-filled sandwiches, 461,114 doughnuts, and “oceans of coffee, chocolate, and lemonade . . . and pyramids of ice cream” as well as plenty of other food.

The article said that Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the AEF, had inspected the canteen and complimented its management. While the article did not mention Mary Vail Andress, the AEF had noticed her extraordinary effort and responsive administration. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for her initiative and for displaying “marked foresight and sound judgement, with untiring personal devotion to the interests and comfort of those whom she served.”

In an exceptional salute to her work, Gen. Pershing himself presented her with the medal.

Mary Vail Andress’s Distinguished Service Medal citation:

For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services. On her own initiative she organized and efficiently developed and administered the work of the American Red Cross at Toul, France. Under her wise supervision this work grew from the ministering and supplying of small comforts to soldiers passing through in hospital trains to an undertaking of extensive proportions, which has aided and cheered thousands of men in the service. In the performance of her exacting tasks, she has displayed marked foresight and sound judgement, with untiring personal devotion to the interests and comfort of those whom she served.

Congressional Medal of Honor, The Distinguished Service Cross, and the Distinguished Service Medal Issued by the War Department Since April 4, 1917 up to and including General Orders, No. 126, War Department, November 11, 1919, Compiled in the Office of the Adjutant General of the Army, 1919 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1920), p. 840

With the American Red Cross in France, 1918-1919 by Carter Henry Harrison

With the Doughboy in France; a Few Chapters of an American Effort by Edward Hungerford

The American National Red Cross Annual Report For the Year Ended Jane 30, 1918

The Red Cross Bulletin, vol. 3: Jan. 7, 1919 p. 7; Jul. 7, 1919 p. 8

“Army Canteens Conducted by American Women”. Washington, D.C., 28 Oct. 1917 via Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers from the Library of Congress

Great Quantities of Food Handled at the Canteen“. Maysville, KY Public Ledger, 28 June 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Captions are based on information provided by the source and information in The Catalogue of Official A.E.F. Photographs Taken by The Signal Corps, U.S.A., War Department Document No. 903, 1919, accessible via Internet Archive or HathiTrust .

Red Cross workers incl MV Andress (woman on left) distributing r

National Archives Identifier: 20804532

ARC Rest Station, Toul. June 1918

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, American National Red Cross photograph collection, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-anrc-16624


Toul, France. Exterior of the American Red Cross Officer's Rest House

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, American National Red Cross photograph collection, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-anrc-15425 (digital file from original)


Exterior of the American Red Cross Headquarters at Toul (Meurthe

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, American National Red Cross photograph collection, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-anrc-15425 (digital file from original)

ARC Canteen at Toul, France. L-R: Miss Mildred Cowing,  Miss M.V

National Archives Identifier: 20803806.  Another version is in the collection of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, American National Red Cross photograph collection, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-anrc-15423

Interior of American Red Cross Enlisted Men's Hotel at Toul, Fra

National Archives Identifier: 20803812

A version of this article originally appeared in our newsletter on historic businesswomen, The Registry, in 2016.

Copyright 2019 Ferret Research, Inc.

Alva Belmont’s 1914 Conference of Great Women

A friendly gathering of women of note whose work lies in different fields, but who feel the same big purpose inspiring them all

by Mary Goljenboom

As I read old newspaper and magazine articles about historic women, I am always curious about who knew whom. It is a small triumph to come across a story that puts several of these historic women together. One recent triumph begins with a plate.

Written on the plate’s rim in blue script is Votes for Women . The plate is a reproduction from a set of stoneware found at Marble House, the home of Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont (aka Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont). Today, Marble House is one of the mansions in Newport, RI, that is open to the public. I bought my reproduction at the gift shop. According to Professor Kenneth Florey, the original set of stoneware was made in 1913; Belmont probably had it made for her July 1914 “Conference of Great Women”.

An ardent suffragist, Alva Belmont’s conference was not only about votes for women. According to journalist Doris E. Fleischman, it was “a friendly gathering of women of note whose work lies in different fields, but who feel the same big purpose inspiring them all, to make practical the connotation of the vague term betterment.” It allowed Belmont to draw attention to issues important to her: American women’s status and accomplishments, and her own status in New York society. She liked publicity.

Belmont used the visit of her daughter, the Duchess of Marlborough (née Consuelo Vanderbilt), as the celebrity hook to assure newspaper coverage and attendance by members of New York society. The duchess was more than just a society matron; in England, her work providing help to the wives and children of men who were in prison and building hostels for young working women was respected.

Eight women shared the dais with the duchess. The ones most interesting to me all had notable careers as leaders and administrators. They worked to improve social welfare and believed that women’s suffrage improved their chances of accomplishing their goals.

Florence Kelley, the general secretary of National Consumers’ League since 1899 and leader of the organization’s efforts to abolish child labor and secure legislation for a minimum wage and an eight hour work day.

Rose Schneiderman, vice president of the New York Women’s Trade Union League (later president), who, throughout her long career as a union administrator and organizer, championed working women and sought work rules and legislation to protect them.

Mary M. Bartelme, the assistant judge of the juvenile court of Cook County, IL, (later circuit court judge) whose innovative practices for dealing with girls in the justice system became a model for other juvenile courts.

Maud Ballington Booth, the co-founder of Volunteers of America and leader of its work in rehabilitating prisoners and assisting prisoners’ families.

Katharine B. Davis, the newly appointed commissioner of corrections for the city of New York, who worked to reform prisons, abolishing widespread graft and corruption.

In addition to the speakers, journalist Doris Fleischman, who covered the conference for the New York Tribune, also had a notable career. She wrote feature articles and a book about women’s careers in business and the professions, and was an executive in the public relations firm her husband founded, Edward L. Bernays.

The results of the “Conference of Great Women” were mixed. The speech by the Duchess of Marlborough was covered in newspapers across the country, as was the new Chinese Tea House on the grounds of Marble House (another hook Belmont used to get publicity). Most of the speakers were listed in articles, so they received some attention, but the duchess got most of the space. The New York Tribune gave Doris Fleischman’s coverage of the conference, which included a synopsis of each talk along with photos and an opinion piece, a full page—far more than most other publications.

The conference received publicity for its causes, but some felt Belmont had simply put on a publicity stunt. Even speakers had opinions. According to historian Sylvia D. Hoffert, Rose Schneiderman felt afterward that very little would be accomplished. “I was furious with myself for attending,” she wrote in her memoir.* Florence Kelley wrote a thank you note to Belmont full of gratitude and praise. “No one could fail to feel at the time that the audience was receptive and responsive. The editorials which have come to me from many parts of the country show the press to have been respectful and largely sympathetic. You must feel great satisfaction in having helped, on a nationwide scale . . .”**

One hundred years after the conference, the replica of the plate is a reminder of these women, whose careers as managers and administrators are usually overlooked, and of the day they stood together to publicize women’s abilities and the importance of votes for women.

Notes and Sources
The other speakers were: Kate M. Gordon, president of the Southern States Woman Suffrage Conference; Helen Ring Robinson, Colorado’s first female state senator; Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and president of the Women’s Political Union.

* Alva Vanderbilt Belmont: Unlikely Champion of Women’s Rights by Sylvia D. Hoffert, p. 103

** The Selected Letters of Florence Kelley, 1869-1931 edited by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Beverly Wilson Palmer, p. 197

Read Doris E. Fleishman’s coverage in the New York Tribune, July 12, 1914 at Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers from the Library of Congress

A reproduction cup and saucer from Alva Belmont’s Votes for Women set  are for sale at the Newport Mansions website of The Preservation Society of Newport County (scroll down towards the bottom of the page)

For more information about Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and her daughter, Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough, see Amanda Mackenzie Stuart’s book Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt

Copyright 2014 Ferret Research, Inc.