Marion Backus in France

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

See Collections Up Close Blog Archive

All MNHS Blogs

Subscribe by e-mail:

 Subscribe in a reader

Marion Backus in France

By: Lori Williamson | Civil War Daybook | July 16, 2018

Marion Backus was a Red Cross nurse from Minnesota serving in France. In a letter to her family, Backus describes the excitement of American soldiers going through the town she was stationed in when they realized that she and the other nurses walking around town were American. The soldiers would stop the nurses in the street to talk to them because they had not seen or talked to American girls for 5-6 months.


Dear Folks:
[...] There has been a lot doing here lately. Some of the American boys were going thru and as the town was not very large they were every were [sic] and it was good fun to go along the streets and speak to them and watch the look of surprise and delight on thire [sic] faces when they heard American spoken by a girl and then they would generally say are you really an American[.] I think that when I get back to the USA and everybody does not smile and speak to me I am going to be very much hurt. Really we have had some funny and pathetic experiences for these boys had not seen an American girl for any were [sic] from five to six months and they were just like children[.] they would stop us any where even in the middle of street an ask us to talk just so that they could hear us talk but now they have all gone on so that there are just occasional boys and the M.T.'s which are always around. [...]
With love to every body
MA Backus

Citation: Marion Backus Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P1356