Archive/Anne Taft Muldavin

Tags: Jewish American Medical Bureau Romeral Villa Paz Aragon Front Belchite Gandesa Cuevas Labradas Into the Fire: American Women in the Spanish Civil War (2002) Battle For Teruel

Researcher: Selene Wang, Stuyvesant '20

Anne Taft Muldavin (1912-1990) was a graduate of the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital of Nursing and arrived in Spain on January 16, 1937 with the First American Medical Bureau Unit under the directions of Dr. Edward Barsky and Head Nurse Fredericka Martin. A month later, she helped set up the first American hospital in Romeral. In a letter from July addressed to "T," she states, "My first operating room was set up in Romeral, and what a problem! No running water; water had to be carried in the house after we had pulled it up from a well, and then was placed in tanks for scrubbing. Water had to be carried in for the autoclaves, etc. Our autoclaves are heated by prima stoves which run on kerosene, and you can’t imagine how much work there is attached to sterilizing and keeping things clean. We spend hours trying to figure out a way in which to sterilize our goods so that things come out dry. We have not given up trying although we have been at it five months." Most of her letters were sent to her family from Spain, and usually depicted detailed descriptions of her work and surroundings. She served throughout Spain, setting up operating rooms in Villa Paz, Teruel, the Aragon Front, Belchite, Gandesa, and Cuevas Labradas. Regarding her experience treating the troops, she once stated, "What right had I to be frightened? I who have just tasted what they have long lived through? With my heart pounding almost as loudly as the roar of the motors aboe, I spoke to them. I told them they must be brave." These statements were often published in radical papers and helped label the American Medical Brigade members as heroes. Upon her return to the United States in 1938, Taft continued to communicate with individuals in Spain.

In a documentary called "Into the Fire: American Women in the Spanish Civil War," another volunteer named Helen Freeman recalled, "I met some friends and went to a meeting. And the meeting was called to aid Spanish democracy. All the different unions were supporting the group. They asked for nurses and doctors and volunteers to go to Spain. And so, I volunteered. They called us in and started organizing the trip. Meeting with the different people who were going, like Fredericka Martin, Lini DeVries, and my friend Anne Taft, who graduated from the same school that I did. People had to resign from their jobs. Most of us were young nurses. And so, that’s why they had meetings to teach the young people what to expect when they get over there." She was documented to be the head nurse later on in her life and continued similar activities even after returning to New York by serving as a spokesperson for a fundraising drive that sent an American relief ship with food, clothing, and supplies to Spain.

Anne Taft married Dr. Leon F. Muldavin in New York City, and remained with him in the city throughout their lives. She passed away in 1990 in New York City.


Sources

“Fighting Fascism: The Americans–Women and Men–Who Fought in the Spanish Civil War.” Democracy Now!, 30 Apr. 2007, www.democracynow.org/2007/4/30/fighting_fascism_the_americans_women_and.

Guide to the Anne Taft Papers ALBA.077, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Archives, 7 Aug. 2017, dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/alba_077/alba_077.html.

Johnson, Ashley. Healing the wounds of fascism: the American Medical Brigade and the Spanish Civil War. 2007. Mount Holyoke College. Undergraduate thesis. https://ida.mtholyoke.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10166/3210/Johnson.pdf?


Images


(Anne Taft In Front Row Second From Right)