About the Author

Laura Neis is a master’s student in Chapman University’s War, Diplomacy, and Society Program. She has published the short history book Aviator in the Amazon: The Memoirs of Jed Donnelley, and has been credited as a research assistant in four articles. Neis is working on a master’s thesis on Holiday Celebrations in World War I, and will be presenting at the Society for Military History Conference in April of 2024. Neis is a member of the Society for Military History, Phi Alpha Theta, and Phi Beta Kappa. She currently works at Chapman University as a Researcher.


Laura Neis

(714) 814-4573



Masters in War, Diplomacy, and Society Chapman University – Orange, CA • In Progress

Bachelor of Arts, History – The University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, IN • May 2018

Research & Creative Projects

“Celebrating Assimilation: Holiday Celebrations in World War I.” • 2021

Mentored by Dr. Jennifer Keene, Chapman University. This article is being expanded into a Master's Thesis.

“Rare Women and True Martyrs: Female Martyrdom under Queen Elizabeth I.” • 2018

Mentored by Dr. Rory Rapple, The University of Notre Dame. Undergraduate Thesis.

“It Strikes a Chord: Motherhood and Romance in the Music of WWI.” • 2022

Mentored by Dr. Minju Kwon, Chapman University.

Published Works

  • Laura Neis, Aviator in the Amazon: The Memoirs of Jed Donnelley (Orange, CA: The Paragon Agency, 2016).
  • James L. Doti, “Benefit-cost analysis of COVID-19 Policy Intervention at the State and National Level,” Covid Economics, Issue 67, February 2021. https://cepr.org/content/covid-economics. Credited as Research Assistant.
  • James L. Doti, “Examining the Impact of Socioeconomic Variables on COVID-19 Death Rates at the State Level,” Journal of Bioeconomics, March 2021. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10818-021-09309-9 Credited as Research Assistant.
  • James L. Doti, “The Impact of Vaccinations on COVID-19 Case Rates at the State Level,” SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY, September 21, 2021), https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3927364. Credited as Research Assistant.
  • James L. Doti, “The Impact of Vaccinations and Chronic Disease on COVID Death Rates.” Journal of Bioeconomics, August 30, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10818-023-09339-5. Credited as Research Assistant.

Conference Presentations

  • “Rare Women and True Martyrs.” • April 2018

New Directions in Gender Studies: 2018 Midwest Undergraduate Conference, The University of Notre Dame

  • “Celebrating Assimilation: Holiday Celebrations in World War I” • December 2021

In Class Three Minute Thesis Competition, Chapman University

  • Upcoming: “Celebrating Assimilation: Holiday Celebrations in World War I” • April 2024

Society for Military History Conference

Professional Organizations

  • Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
  • Society for Military History
  • Phi Alpha Theta
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Glynn Family Honors Program, University of Notre Dame

Document Type



The United States did not outwardly join WWI until April of 1917. However, in the nearly three years in which the U.S. was neutral, they provided medical support to the suffering. This act has been dismissed as humanitarian charity work, and therefore not breaking with neutrality agreements, but it was actually a hotly contested act of foreign policy, and different propaganda campaigns were used to change the minds of American citizens.

Two different groups of medical volunteers show how humanitarian aid shapes perspectives on war. The American Ambulance Field Service drove ambulances for the French army on the front line, against the official policy on neutrality. This meant that this group lost the financial support of the government. They sought to sway public opinion to go to war with France, through two books and newspaper articles, which were also used for requesting donations. The American Red Cross (ARC), on the other hand, maintained the support of the U.S. government by strongly enforcing and promoting neutrality, assisting both sides. The ARC enjoyed official support and newspaper articles promoting their cause prior to the entry to the war. However, these two groups were both presented as being strongly pro-Allies in the aftermath of the war, in newspapers and books.

Historians tend to focus on soldiers, and the time period after the U.S. officially entered the war. Julia Irwin has shown that the ARC was “a form of propaganda.”[1] However, no one has compared these two groups and examined how they used books and newspapers to sway Americans opinions about the war, using something as innocuous as humanitarian aid. Understanding how and why groups capitalize on the human desire to provide medical assistance can help people unpeel these layers and make informed choices.

[1] Julia F. Irwin, “Taming Total War: Great War–Era American Humanitarianism and Its Legacies,” Diplomatic History 38, no. 4 (2014): 763–75. 763.



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