A recently published newspaper archive reproduced in the extract below explains how Norman Derr’s private letters to her family were used as the basis for the original “Mademoiselle Miss” book printed in 1916.
Although a summary of this information was given in the introduction to “Mademoiselle Miss” it is interesting to read the original report which was full of enthusiasm for the forthcoming publication of Norman’s book.
The Daily Home News
New Brunswick, New Jersey, June 27,1916
Norman Derr, Former Brunswick Girl, Now a French Lieutenant
Granddaughter of the Late Mrs R W Latham, of Livingston Ave, Making a Name for Herself in French Hospitals- Has Issued Book of Experiences.
During the past five or six months it has been the occasional good fortune of a small circle of New Brunswicker’s to read extracts from certain private letters written by a nurse-soldier stationed at the front, in a French hospital town. Those to whom this rare privilege came clamoured for its extension. The marvellous letters should be given to the public.
No one, especially no French sympathiser should be excluded from their perusal, and the people New Brunswick in particular might be justified in claiming a right to a share of the delightful privilege for she from whose heart and pen they came, passed much of her childhood and of her girlhood days in our own town. For two generations immediately preceding her, her ancestors dwelt among us in the hospitable house once known as Llangollen.
It is of especial interest to New Brunswick that the writer of these rare letters is Miss Norman Derr, granddaughter of the late Mrs Robert W Latham of Llangollen, daughter of Dr and Mrs E Z Derr, and niece of Edward Latham, Mrs Louise Robbins and Miss Kate Crawford Latham. The latter was with Miss Derr, in Europe, until Sept 1915, at which time Miss Derr entered the hospital service at Vitry-le Francois with the rank of Lieutenant.
Many of the letters are addressed to Miss Latham, while others have been written to Miss Derrs parents, and in these spontaneous outpourings one recognises an enthusiasm and a naturalness which probably could never have existed had public perusal been in the writer’s mind. Just now how the devoutly wished consummation has been reached it would be difficult to assert but the fact remains that within a few days these letters are to make their appearance in the book form under the title of “Mademoiselle Miss”, a name which her devoted children (as Miss Derr calls her wounded charges) have bestowed upon their noble American infirmiere. All this has been accomplished by a group of enthusiastic strangers to whom the letters found their way.
An introduction has been written by Dr Richard Cabot. The book is to appear in the blue grey of the new French uniform and all profits go to the Wounded French Relief.
The entire undertaking is purely philanthropic. The publisher’s interest in the work and the cause is so great that he is assuming the responsibility without deriving a cent of profit from the transaction, and the book dealers everywhere (W M Reed of New Brunswick among the kind helpers) are following his example and selling without profit.
To give an idea of the eagerness and enthusiasm with which the book is waited I will mention that in one Western City alone five hundred copies have been ordered. Perhaps no more effectual appeal could be made to the ever generous and responsive public of New Brunswick than by submitting to them an extract from one of the letters in question. Please bear in mind while reading that each purchase of the book represents just that much aid to the brave company of Wounded French Soldiers.
The following is extracted from her letters:
“Vitry le Francois, 27 Dec 1915”