New York and New Yorkers in World War I is a new exhibition at the New York State Capitol that honors men and women from New York who served in World War I, including ambulance drivers who saved lives along the front lines of battle. The current iteration of the exhibit shares the story of four of the 437 New Yorkers who volunteered with the American Ambulance Hospital and the American Field Service, a humanitarian organization that has evolved into the present-day intercultural education organization, AFS Intercultural Programs.

Between 1914 and 1917, AFS volunteers evacuated 500,000 casualties near the front lines in France, Belgium, and the Balkans, and drove trucks to the front with needed supplies. After entering the war, the United States military absorbed the AFS ambulance and camion units into their ranks by the end of 1917.

A convoy of chassis, which would serve as the base for new ambulances in France. 1915.

The exhibit features original artifacts from the Archives of the American Field Services and AFS Intercultural Programs, including letters, photographs, an American Field Service jacket, and a picture book on Khaki, the dog mascot of one ambulance unit, belonging to four New Yorkers:

  • Joshua G.B. Campbell: Originally from New York City, Campbell helped lead an ambulance unit and was honored by the French government for extreme bravery. Campbell adopted a stray dog as the mascot of his ambulance unit.
  • Edward H. Pattison: Born in Troy, NY, Pattison left his studies at Cornell to volunteer as a truck driver for the American Field Service, filling an urgent need to replenish supplies on the front lines.
  • Regis H. Post: A former New York Assembly member and Governor of Puerto Rico, from Bayport, Long Island, who helped run the civilian volunteer ambulance unit in Paris.
  • Arthur James Putnam: Born in Deposit, NY, Putnam left his position as an instructor at Cornell to volunteer as an ambulance driver.
Arthur J. Putnam standing with AFS founder A. Piatt Andrew in France. 1917.

The exhibit is part of New York State’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ participation in World War I. It will be on display in the historic War Room of the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York, through September 29, 2017. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Click here for more information about visiting the New York State Capitol.


Visit the AFS Archives to learn more about the history of AFS!


All photographs 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.