While U.S. Ambassador George T. Marye executed his duties as President Woodrow Wilson’s top envoy to Russia, his wife, Marie, did not simply indulge in a life of privilege in Petrograd 1 high society. During her time in the Russian capital between 1914 and 1916, Mrs. Marye, threw herself into relief work to help alleviate the suffering of some of the war’s neediest victims. She helped establish an American hospital for Russian soldiers as well as a crèche, or day care center, for women and children displaced by the war.
Mrs. Marie Alice (Doyle) Marye, wife of U.S. Ambassador to Russia George T. Marye
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Mrs. Marye, however, was not just an organizer or administrator. She also rolled up her sleeves and served as a nurse at the hospital. If the misery and horror of war disturbed her, it did not stop her visiting active war zones in order to learn more about the care given to wounded soldiers. During a trip she took with her husband to Poland, she exhibited an intrepid spirit by venturing to go to the front lines.
According to a fellow American who accompanied Mrs. Marye, “[o]ur objective was the field hospital to which the wounded were being brought.” According to him, “Mrs. Marye spent some time here and visited every one of the wounded.” She also visited several hospitals in Warsaw. Her adventure to the Polish front grabbed the attention of the U.S. press, including the Washington Post (“Ambassador Marye’s Wife Unafraid”) and the New York Times (“Mrs. Marye at the Front”).2
Her efforts were also recognized by her Russian hosts. In order to meet with and thank Mrs. Mayre, Czar Nicholas II’s wife, Empress Alexandra Federovna Romanova, made an exception to her war-time practice of holding no formal audiences. 3 After her departure from Petrograd in 1916, Mrs. Marye’s concern for Russia and its people continued. She served for a time as chairman of the Washington chapter of the American Central Committee for Russian Relief, which provided food, clothing and medical supplies to Russia’s needy following the war and the Bolshevik revolution. Mrs. Marye died in Washington, D.C., on January 5, 1946, thirteen years after her husband.
Czar Nicholas changed the name of St. Petersburg to Petrograd in early September 1914 ↩
“Ambassador Marye’s Wife Unafraid: Amid Roar and Tumult of Battle; Visits Trenches at Russian Front,” Washington Post, January 12, 1915, p. 4; “Mrs. Marye at the Front,” New York Times, January 12, 1915, p. 2. ↩
Marye, George T. Nearing the End in Imperial Russia (Philadelphia, 1929), p.478-479. ↩