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Hale, Kathleen Burke, Mrs., 1884-1958



  • Existence: 1884 - 1958

The Biographical Cyclopædia of American Women

BURKE, KATHLEEN, Colonel, C. B. E. (Mrs. Frederick Forest Peabody), daughter of Thomas Francis and Georgina (Connolly) Burke, was born in London, England, and educated at the University of Oxford and in Paris.

During the period of the World War she achieved a record attained by few only of the women whose lives were consecrated to work for the Allies. Her service was extended and diversified, for at different times she was with the British, Italian, Serbian, and American Armies. At the beginning of the War she was sent to Belgium as member of a British Refugee Commission, and worked there during August and September, 1914, until the fall of Antwerp. She escaped from Ostend two days before the arrival of the Germans, and then, proceeding to Serbia, was appointed by the French Government its only woman representative at the front.

In May, 1915, she joined the Scottish Women's Hospitals, and, as organizing secretary, visited all the scenes of their activities. She was the first woman at Vimy Ridge with the Canadian troops, and there received the gift of a German flag, captured by a Canadian. She was the only woman permitted to enter the British front lines, and was the first woman to go into Verdun. She remained at Verdun during the great siege, in the summer of 1916, and suffered a wound in the arm. Later in 1916, she came to America to plead the cause of the Scottish Women's Hospitals. Her manner of speaking was direct and forceful, and her audiences were held spellbound by her gift for narration, as she recounted anecdotes of the shocking conditions which she had seen in all the war-ridden lands. In answer to her appeal she received approximately one million five hundred thousand dollars for her cause.

In 1917, when the United States entered the War, she joined the American Red Cross, and made a speaking tour of the country in behalf of its campaign for funds. In 1918 she returned to France, was with the British Army at Ypres, Cambrai, Douai and Lille, and was gassed at Valenciennes. In bitterest terms Miss Burke denounces the Germans for their atrocities committed at the end as well as in the beginning of the war. During their evacuation of Douai they had filled a barracks with three thousand old women and children "for safety," and then gassed them, in order to delay the British, who stopped to nurse these feeble and innocent victims of the Hun.

Miss Burke spent the last day of the war with the American troops at Verdun, whither she went on November 9, 1918. She returned to America after the armistice to continue her work for the Scottish Women's Hospitals at their offices in New York. Large sums of money have been administered by her, but her work has been entirely on a voluntary basis, as she has accepted no salary for herself.

Miss Burke is fond of outdoor sports, golf and fishing, and is an expert horsewoman. She is the author of The White Road to Verdun (1916) and Little Heroes of France, 1914-1918 (1920). Although she is of British birth, America claims her by adoption. She has been awarded the freedom of the cities of Flint, Michigan, and Fresno, California, and in October, 1918, was named Honorary Colonel of the 138th Field Artillery, United States Army. Also she has been elected a member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders and Helpers of America, Local No. 6, San Francisco, and has the right of speech in all the Labor Temples of the country. She is a member of the National Chapter, Daughters of the Empire of Canada, and is an Officer de l'Instruction Publique of France. She is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Knight of St. Sava of Serbia, and has been awarded the British Service Medal, the British Victory Medal, the French Red Cross Medal, the Order of Misericorde of Serbia, the Serbian Cross of Charity, the Russian Cross of St. George, and the Greek War Cross.

On April 5, 1920, she was married to Frederick Forest Peabody of Santa Barbara, California.

Found in 8 Collections and/or Records:

Hale (Kathleen Burke) Papers

Identifier: AR-2020-006
Abstract Kathleen Burke Hale was one of Santa Barbara's most distinguished citizens. The most decorated woman of World War I, Burke received awards and medals from seven European nations. As a volunteer Red Cross worker during World War I she helped organize emergency hospitals in war zones and created a climate of high morale among both soldiers and military officials. Burke repeated her feat in the wake of World War II when she and her husband, artist Girard Hale, adopted and coordinated...
Dates: 1856 - 1959

Hale (Kathleen Burke) Papers

 Unprocessed Material — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 1962-130
Dates: 1887 - 1958
Found in: Gledhill Library

Hale (Kathleen Burke) photograph with medals

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1977-185
Dates: Issued: 1914 - 1918
Found in: Gledhill Library

Kathleen Burke Hale biography and miscellaneous letters

 File — Box: 285
Scope and Contents From the Collection:

The Kathleen Burke Hale Papers contain manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, photographs, and tributes spanning her life as a relief worker during World War I, as the adoptive benefactor of a French village following World War II, and as a Santa Barbara philanthropist throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

Dates: 1906 - 1954

Kathleen Burke portrait by Albert Herter

 Digital Image
Found in: Gledhill Library

Maillé Massacre Remembrance Collection

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1988-122
Dates: 1956 - 2008
Found in: Gledhill Library

Sandstrom (Sonia Carrillo) Collection

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1983-014
Found in: Gledhill Library