In conjunction with her work as an author, Ellen Hampton is an active historian working on projects in all media. Her research and writing has informed broadcast interviews, documentary films, historical exhibitions, journalism, and more.
Documentary: The American in Paris
Directed by Antony Easton and produced by Passion Pictures, The American in Paris takes a comprehensive look at the role of The American Hospital of Paris during WWI. The 57-minute documentary brings to life the volunteers who dedicated their time—and for some, their lives—to helping France in the desperate years of trench warfare. Using archive footage and photographs, as well as interviews with historians and hospital officials, the film has toured France and the United States since its release in June 2017.
NBC Nightly News reported on the dramatic WWI history of The American Hospital and its remarkable volunteers. See the report here.
Exhibition: Bearing the Torch
Bearing the Torch: the American Hospital of Paris in the First World War, a traveling exhibition of panels, examines the hospital’s remarkable role running a 600-bed military hospital in a former boys’ school in Neuilly. Before the U.S. entry into the war in 1917, thousands of Americans came to France to serve a cause they called humanity. Some were doctors and nurses, many others were college students who volunteered as ambulance drivers and social workers. They brought clothes and medicine, ambulances and airplanes, but most of all, they brought helping hands to a country in deep need. History may not remember them, but France has never forgotten. Opened in April 2017.
Writing about historical events and bringing forward their connections to the present is a great pleasure.
When John Paul Jones Crossed Over
It is of little consequence whether, in the heat of a 1779 naval battle aboard the U.S. Navy frigate Bonhomme Richard—its deck slick with blood, its hull splintered by cannon fire—Capt. John Paul Jones shouted to the opposing British captain, “I have not yet begun to fight!” Nor does it matter whether Jones actually founded the Navy, won the American Revolutionary War on the seas or was an object of admiration among society ladies in Paris. Jones stands tall in legend because he stood firm against adversity, especially when the odds were stacked against him. The Scottish-born captain was American by choice, not birth, and it was the man’s heartfelt defense of his adopted nation’s interests abroad that ranked him high in the pantheon of Revolutionary War heroes…
Tombs of Memory
Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, takes pride in its centuries-old château, exclusive neighborhoods and top-notch schools. As the birthplace of King Louis XIV (in the château), the hunting grounds of Henri IV and the residence of other European nobles, it styles itself a “royal town.” During the 1940–44 German occupation of France its strategic location on a plateau a dozen miles west of central Paris made Saint-Germain the ideal location for the Oberbefehlshaber West—the Wehrmacht’s supreme commander on the Western Front. The town’s 43,000 residents don’t discuss that period of its history so much…
100 Years Since Her Execution, Was Mata Hari a Sexy Spy or a Sexy Scapegoat?
Her name lives on a century after they stood her in front of a firing squad on Oct. 15, 1917, and watched her die: Mata Hari, treacherous spy, devious liar, a wicked woman to the core. Or was she something else entirely? Was she isolated and vulnerable, spinning an identity and a living from illusion and sexuality, little more than a victim of male bias and scapegoat for military failure?
Nothing about Mata Hari was simple and clear, not then, not now. Rising from the ambiguity are a thousand legends and interpretations, each projecting onto her a tale of their own, in books and films, now even on Twitter and Facebook. Margaretha Zelle MacLeod, a middle-class Dutch divorcée from Leeuwarden, died, but Mata Hari, femme fatale and exotic dancer, has become eternal. She might consider that her greatest success…
How World War I Revolutionized Medicine
When World War I broke out in France, in August 1914, getting a wounded soldier from the battlefield to a hospital required horse-drawn wagons or mules with baskets on either side. Incapacitated soldiers would be taken to a railway station, put in the straw of a cattle-car, and sent towards the nearest city with a hospital. No bandages, no food, no water. “One of those trains had dumped about 500 badly wounded men and left them lying between the tracks in the rain, with no cover whatsoever,” recounted Harvey Cushing, the head of the Harvard Unit of volunteer doctors at the American Ambulance Hospital of Paris…