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War—through a child’s eyes

From our archives, a look at drawings by children living through world wars and other conflicts   

During World War I, the American Friends Service Committee created a program to feed thousands of children in Germany and Austria. Since then, AFSC has provided humanitarian relief to countless children devastated by war and conflict.

Over the decades, many of those children sent thank-you letters, drawings, and poems to AFSC—many of which we maintain in our archives. Above are just some of those drawings made by children affected by war and violence around the world over the past century.

In 1938, AFSC published a booklet titled "They Still Draw Pictures!" featuring drawings by children who were refugees from the Spanish civil war, when AFSC managed 16 major “children’s colonies” in the south of France and provided support for numerous other smaller shelters. The colonies provided education, music and dance, as well as clothing, food, and emotional support. They required significant financial resources, as did helping the many families who opened their homes to children for safe-keeping—sometimes at risk to themselves. 

Author Aldous Huxley wrote the introduction of "They Still Draw Pictures!" and stated: "It is a pleasure to consider these children's drawings as works of art; but it is also our duty to remember that they are signs of the times, symptoms of our contemporary civilization. The most that individual men and women of good will can do is to work on behalf of some general solution of the problem of large-scale violence and, meanwhile, to succour those who, like the child artists of this exhibition, have been made the victims of the world's collective crime and madness.”

In 2019, the Madrid City Council published a reproduction of "They Still Draw Pictures!" The city's Cultural Heritage Department shared: “For us, it is a way to say THANK YOU to the Quakers for their collaboration and help to our children in so tragic moments. We owed it to you.”