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The Hello Girls, the Voice of the U.S. Army in France

The first women recruited by the U.S. Army were equipped with helmets and gasmasks just like their male counterparts, but they were armed with telephones. Some 223 French-speaking American women served as switchboard operators during World War I. Nicknamed the “Hello Girls,” they acted as a link between the front line and the rear guard and between French and American...

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1918-1926: The Never-Ending War

La Paix Impossible is the sixth instalment of the Apocalypse history documentary series on 20th-century military conflicts. Produced using nothing but restored color footage, the two 45-minute episodes depict the interwar period (1918-1926) and the rise of nationalism. A film by Isabelle Clarke and Daniel Costelle, narrated by Mathieu Kassovitz. Interview. France-Amérique: Why have you called the 1918-1926 period "la...

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Versailles’ American Splendor

The Château de Versailles is a symbol of French excellence in the arts, emblematic of absolute power and the height of the monarchy’s reign. But it actually owes part of its current grandeur and beauty to a number of Americans who financed its restoration throughout the 20th century. "What I must do is not what other people do, but what...[Subscriber]

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1900, the Birth of the Parisian Myth

The City of Light was at its peak in 1900. The Alexandre III Bridge, Orsay Station, the World’s Fair, and the first subway line were all inaugurated. An exhibition on Paris from the Belle Epoque era, initially presented at the Petit Palais, is now at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville from October 12 through January 6, 2019. It will...

Sergeant York Gets His Very Own Comic Book

An avenue in Manhattan bears his name, but who really remembers Sergeant York, the most decorated U.S. soldier of World War I? He proved his mettle in France during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, whose 100th anniversary is currently being commemorated, and is now the subject of a comic book published by Association of the United States Army. On October 8, 1918,...

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The Birth of U.S. Naval Aviation on the Ile d’Oléron

On August 20, 2018, Ile d’Oléron (in the Charente-Maritime département) will be paying homage to the 383 U.S. soldiers who lived on the island during World War I. Posted more than 400 miles from the trenches, these pilots, sailors, and mechanics from the U.S. Navy were tasked with defending the French coast against German submarines. Located on the Atlantic Ocean...

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Yann Castelnot, Remembering Native Veterans

Frenchman Yann Castelnot, a Quebec-based amateur historian, has identified thousands of indigenous soldiers who fought for Canada and the United States since the arrival of the Europeans in the 17th century. In recognition of his archiving work he received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Province of Quebec and was congratulated by the Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs. Exactly...

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French-American Commercial Feuds (3/5): Freedom Fries Flout the French

Franco-American history features a number of commercial and diplomatic disputes, from the “chicken war” in the 1960s to Donald Trump’s recent declarations about taxing steel and aluminum imported from Europe. With its boycotts and protectionist policies, we explore these conflicts through five episodes looking at the history of certain controversial products. Episode 3: Freedom Fries Flout the French The United...

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Serge and Beate Klarsfeld: “We Will Keep Fighting as Long as We Are Alive”

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld have spent their lives hunting former Nazis, war criminals, and high-ranking officials of the Vichy regime. France-Amérique met with these “militants of memory,” 82 and 79 respectively, while they were promoting the English publication of their autobiography, Hunting the Truth. “He was over 6 ft. 5 and had a revolver in his pocket. I was also...

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1918, the Beginnings of Jazz in France

During World War I, Afro-American musicians posted to France popularized a new form of music. This “syncopated ragtime” was the beginning of jazz. An exhibition organized at the New Orleans Jazz Museum through November 15, 2018, takes a look back over this period. “Here, on February 12, 1918, the first jazz concert was played on European soil.” This declaration is...

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French-American Commercial Feuds (1/5): The Chicken War

Franco-American history features a number of commercial and diplomatic disputes, from the “chicken war” in the 1960s to Donald Trump’s recent declarations about taxing steel and aluminum imported from Europe. With its boycotts and protectionist policies, we explore these conflicts through five episodes looking at the history of certain controversial products. Episode 1: The Chicken War In the middle of...

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Images: French-American Friendship in the 19th Century

A major collection of rare objects exhibited at the Château de Chantilly in France through June 30 retraces a century of Franco-American relations. Franco-American friendship is far more than just the War of Independence! The exhibition America ! La Maison d’Orléans et les Etats-Unis looks back over the transatlantic exchanges of the 19th century, a lesser-known period of Franco-American history but...

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Building Roads Through French-Speaking New England

A tourist route linking French-speaking cities in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island will be inaugurated at the end of the summer in 2019. What do Lewiston and Biddeford in Maine, Manchester in New Hampshire, and Woonsocket in Rhode Island all have in common? More than half of the populations of these American cities spoke French just a century...

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The Hundred-Year Anniversary of the Battle of Cantigny

This weekend will see France and the United States commemorate the hundred-year anniversary of the Battle of Cantigny, named after a little village in the Somme. This particular event was one of many during World War 1, but marked the first U.S. military offensive in Europe. Some 199 American soldiers were killed during the Battle of Cantigny between May 28...

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A Stroll Through Versailles During the Time of Kings

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Court of Versailles was open to the public and welcomed artists, ambassadors, and diplomats from all over the world. The "Visitors to Versailles (1682-1789)" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York until July 29 offers the chance to walk in these visitors’ shoes. In 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of royal...

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Gwenn ha Du, the Breton Cousin of the Stars and Stripes

At the Saint Patrick’s Day parade held every March 17 on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, it is common to see Bretons flying their black and white flag, which is in fact inspired by the Star-Spangled Banner of the United States. The French and American flags share the same colors, but the Stars and Stripes actually have more in common with...

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The Great Cat Massacre: French History Revealed by the Americans

In 1730 in Paris, two apprentice printers staged a trial for their masters’ cats, condemned them to death by hanging, and carried out the sentence. This tragic event in the history of France continues to fascinate American historians and actors today. The Great Cat Massacre on the Rue Saint-Séverin was, in the words of the perpetrators, "the funniest thing that ever...

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Bessie Coleman: Black Wings Over France

On June 15, 1921, Bessie Coleman became the world’s first Afro-American woman pilot. At a time when no school in America was ready to admit a colored student, she earned her license from Le Crotoy in Northern France. Seen today as a pioneer of emancipation of women and Blacks, Bessie Coleman is a legend in the United States. In 1915,...

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The Invention of Santa Claus: From Thomas Nast to Coca-Cola

Père Janvier, Father Christmas, Christkindl, Santa Claus…Whatever name you happen to give him, Father Christmas and his origins still spur controversy. Coca-Cola may have claimed ownership of the symbol and widely circulated the image of a bearded and smiling Father Christmas, yet the brand didn’t actually invent anything. Much earlier, the American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) fashioned Father Christmas’s image...[Subscriber]

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Remembering the Americans Who Gave Their Lives for France

A U.S. government agency founded in 1923 with offices outside of Paris continues to preserve the memory of the 67,629 American soldiers killed during the two World Wars and buried in France. The 150 students from the elementary school in Charly-sur-Marne have just left, and the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery falls silent once again. This military cemetery covers 42 acres of...

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The Harlem Hellfighters: African-American Fighters in French Uniforms

Some 4,500 Black American soldiers, victims of segregation laws in force in the U.S. army, fought in French uniforms during World War I. Nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters, these soldiers displayed exceptional valor in combat. Here is their incredible yet little-known story. "Up the wide avenue they swung. Their smiles outshone the golden sunlight […]. New York turned out to tender...[Subscriber]