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About the AFS Archives

The Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS Archives) is the official repository for material related to the history and development of the organization that is now referred to as AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc.

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AFS History

AFS Intercultural Programs began as the American Ambulance Field Service, a volunteer ambulance corps created in April 1915 by A. Piatt Andrew. Learn about how AFS was transformed from a wartime humanitarian aid organization into a groundbreaking international secondary school exchange, volunteer, and intercultural learning organization in our timeline!

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Accessing the Archives

Dylan examining film February 2016

The AFS Archives contains more than 500 cubic feet of unique documents, photographs, memorabilia, and audio-visual material dating from as early as 1915, when AFS was founded as a volunteer ambulance corps in France. The collections are organized into four chronological record groups.

View our collection list

AFS Janus

Read our bi-yearly, highly-anticipated publication containing exciting stories from the history and present-day activities of the organization.

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Three Little Spectators. Photograph by Irving Penn.

Item of the Month: May 2017

Three Little Spectators, 1945

Irving Penn, one of the most celebrated photographers of the last half of the twentieth century, was 27 years old and a photographer for Vogue when he volunteered with AFS in August 1944. He was sent to Italy and India, and served as an AFS ambulance driver and staff photographer between November 1944 and November 1945. During his time overseas, Penn took hundreds of photographs depicting the life and work of the AFS volunteers during the war. His photographers were often posed rather than candid, and included places and individuals the AFSers encountered during their service (including three little Italian girls peeking in on an AFS dance in 1945, depicted in the photograph above.)

On April 24, 2017, the major retrospective exhibition Irving Penn: Centennial opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City…

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The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919 Curriculum

Encourage secondary school students worldwide to become global citizens and engage them with unique primary sources through our free secondary school curriculum about the history of World War I volunteerism.

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Stories from the Stacks

Stay updated with exciting projects and newly-digitized collections in the AFS Archives!
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Photographs in the AFS Archives: Arthur Howe, Jr. Collection

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Allen in his ambulance. Photograph by Lawrence B. Cummings

Julian Allen: Lifelong Volunteer, Man of Mystery

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Major Ward B. Chamberlin, 1945.  Photograph by Irving Penn

Ward B. Chamberlin, Jr, 1921-2017: Volunteer, Broadcaster, and Changemaker

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Art in Damascus

“A burning desire to do what one could”: Archiving Arthur Howe Jr.’s Collection

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A. Piatt Andrew and Stephen Galatti

AFS receives C. Herbert Finch Online Publication Award

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Support the AFS Archives

As a non-profit repository, the AFS Archives depends upon the generous support of its friends in order to continue documenting the history of AFS and offering the highest standards available to the researching public. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation by selecting the “Donate Here” option and directing your donation to the “AFS Archives” in the drop-down menu.

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Contact

The AFS Archives is open for research by appointment only. Please contact us here:

Archival Inquiries

  • If you are requesting an in-house research appointment, please include a list of archival collections needed for research, the type of project and outcome (such as if this will result in a publication), and the reason for an on-site visit. Please note that the AFS Archives does not maintain a database with current contact information for AFS alumni, so we are unable to help with these requests.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Banner image and video: American Ambulance Field Service volunteers loading an ambulance in Alsace in 1915; Scenes from the "Our Friend France" World War I promotional film. All items are courtesy of the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs, and cannot be reproduced outside the guidelines of U.S. Fair Use ( (17 U.S.C.,Section 107) without advance permission.