A Lively Experiment

Notes on collections at the RIHS

She did more than make doughnuts…

she rocked a gas mask like a boss!!!

The Rhode Island Historical Society’s latest display at the Arcade building in Providence showcases the Gertrude Bray and her service during World War I.

Gertrude Cottrell Bray (1888-1975) was the daughter of Ferdinand and Mary T. (Cottrell) of Pawtucket, R.I. and was a graduate of Pawtucket High School and Wheaton College (1909). Prior to her deployment to France, Bray worked from approximately 1909-1917 as a clerk for William H. Haskell Mfg. Co. , a nut and bolt manufacturer located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. On January 26th, 1918, Bray began her service as a militarized member of the Armed Services YMCA of the American Expeditionary Force in France and Germany. As a canteen worker, Bray was attached to the 167th Regiment of the famous 42nd Infantry “Rainbow” Division under Colonel Douglas MacArthur. She spent over a year in the front lines during World War One as a volunteer in the American Red Cross and for the Y.M.C.A. After the war, she worked as a psychiatric investigator for the Veterans Administration.






Former RIHS Staff members have shared some awesome stories of Ms. Bray in the past…

James Damico:


Kirsten Hammerstrom:




MSS 144 Gertrude Bray Papers:



Jennifer L. Galpern, Special Collections Research Associate


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This entry was posted on 8 March 2018 by in Collection Notes and tagged , , .

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