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Journals of the Great War - Pauline Sands Lee  

by Joan Warren on Wednesday December 5, 2018

I am looking forward to giving a presentation on Pauline Sand’s Lee’s World War I war experiences in France. The focus will be on the first of Pauline’s two war time trips and will include many of her images and extensive excerpts from her journals.

My great-grandmother, Pauline Sands Lee, lived in Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY all her life. Her Quaker family roots pre-dated the Revolutionary War.  Pauline kept journals of her travels and home life from 1888 until 1937. The majority of the thirty-eight journals are private notes and travelogues comprising descriptions, postcards or mementoes.  I believe, though, that the six journals she kept in France from November 1916 to April 1918 were written with the intention of making a public record of her wartime work. She felt driven to help the French during the war and became an American Fund for French Wounded (AFFW) volunteer. The journals  are detailed first-hand observations of war-time France. They include postcards of the many cities and towns through which she traveled and photographed.  She shed light on individuals coping with the back side of war.   Pauline plumbed her journal records extensively to write articles and personal stories of wartime France which she sent back to local newspapers. She also solicited funds for AFFW to purchase vehicles for delivering medical supplies to large and small hospitals in France.  Because of Pauline’s  competence and initiative she was entrusted with setting up a supply substation depot in Quimper, France. Her first journey closed with an excursion to war-torn Verdun.

While my talk only covers Pauline’s first AFFW trip, I want to note that her second trip was equally productive. Covering September 1917 to March 1918 Pauline set up a substation depot in Chambéry (NE France)to supply hospitals in the area. She supported American “boys” through canteen work and hospital visits and documents interactions with townspeople and conversations with GI’s about their personal experiences on the Front.

Biographical background information on Joan Warren

I have always been interested in history and am the unofficial historian of my family. My great grandmother, Pauline Sands Lee, lived in Cornwall on Hudson NY where I spent the first five years of my life. We moved around and at the age of 12 my family ended up in New Hampshire. I became interested in my great grandmother’s journals in my teens, and was bequeathed them when my father died. For over 20 years I have been working in my spare time on the six Pauline Sands Lee’s journals covering her World War I experiences in France.

My undergraduate degree is from University of New Hampshire in English and Education. I have a Library Science degree from the University of Rhode Island and an Administrative degree from Southern Connecticut State University. I am a career librarian, having worked in public libraries and school libraries for 39 years, retiring from the position of Library Media Coordinator at Montville School District in 2007.



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