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Binkley’s ticket to watch the victory parade from the roof of the Hôtel de Crillon.

July began with farewells to the Alliods in Lyon and to Berthe Fischer in Strassbourg as Binkley moved to Paris to begin his job collecting materials for the Hoover War Library. He found a room at 5 rue Léopold Robert in Montparnasse with mme Courtoisnon. Her apartment was described by another tenant, Henry Lee Shillinglaw, in his diary entry for 2 Dec. 1918:

Today I move my things to home of Madam Courtraino, quatrième étage, 5 Rue Léopold Robert. She is a dear old soul and has one of those homes adorned with interesting specimens of French art: for example, gargoyles around the dining room, one with an electric light coming from its mouth. She is an economical lady and is so glad I’m there where I won’t have to spend my money foolishly.1

Mme Courtoisnon set to work playing matchmaker for Binkley. As part of his transition to the employ of Hoover’s American Relief Administration Binkley was discharged from the Army. He sewed his third service stripe (marking the beginning of his third year in service) onto his uniform sleeve two days after earning it, sitting in the waiting room at the office where his discharge was made out. As a civilian he had a new suit made by Burberry’s.

His work for the Hoover collection began with visits to the various delegations, large and small, that were attending the Peace Conference. Progress was rapid: “In morning we walk to Holland and and to Armenia. In afternoon go to Costa Rica, Montenegro but I lose Finland's address.” In the office he typed up catalogue cards.

He arrived in Paris in time for the Inter-Allied Games on July 4. He also witnessed the victory parade on Bastille Day, having got a ticket for a place on the roof of the Hotel de Crillon overlooking the Place de la Concorde.

Adams credits Binkley with a notable contribution to the intellectual work of the collectors. He had consulted with librarians at Stanford before leaving for Europe, and had received the suggestiont to acquire ephemera, to parallel the collections of pamphlets from the period of the Revoulution. Once in Paris he found that pamphleteering was no longer practiced. It was Binkley who suggested an alternative:

Everyone who has wandered the streets of Paris will recall, however, that one of the customary sights is that of a knot of readers gathered opposite some wall on which a poster has been put up, and if he has examined these posters, will have discovered that they are screeds upon some vital topic of the day. They are occasionally the product of individual effort, and are the modern French development of individual pamphleteering. More often they are put up by some society, thus representing the pamphleteering effort of a group of people who have united for a special object. It was Mr. Robert C. Binkley, a Stanford student but recently demobilized after two years’ army service in France and now attached to our work in Paris as interpreter, who, being much interested in these posters, first suggested that the society publications of France for the period of the war would be worth getting.2

Binkley mentions returning some posters to some unknown person or office on July 11. He started canvassing various societies and committees in the following month.

Operas: only one: Tales of Hoffman at the Opéra comique. He tried twice more to get tickets there, but failed. He also saw a play, Le grillon du foyer (The Cricket on the Hearth). Total performances for the year: 40.


  1. David Lee Shillinglaw, An American in the Army and YMCA, 1917-1920: The Diary of David Lee Shillinglaw, ed. Glen E. Holt (n.p., 1971), p.133. Shillinglaw worked for the YMCA, selling off their surplus assets now that the troops were going home. Probably the correct form of the landlady’s name is “Courtonneau”, as given by Didot-Bottin, but I will stick with Binkley’s form “Courtoisnon”, since he uses it consistently.

  2. Ephraim Douglass Adams, The Hoover War Collection at Stanford University, California; a Report and an Analysis ([Stanford University: Stanford University Press], 1921), p.16.

Diary: July, 1919

  • bid goodbye to Alliods -- Old man gives final warning & private address. Sleep most of the way to Mulhouse -- Then take wrong train and go back to Altkirch. Talk to Captain there. Return to Mulhouse & ride with permissioners to Strasbourg.

    Basque tells about his savage race & we discuss politics, drink & sing. Best of comarades. Sleep in Foyer du Soldat.

  • Ask at station for Bertha -- Go to Bishheim | lod_link: -- Coffee with family. Bertha goes to work. I buy book for Elizabeth and also harmonicas. Dinner with Fischers -- Brother Henri tells about Russia & the Bolsheviks -- Meet American -- Bertha & I go walking in evening. I give her my service ribbon & say goodby forever. Leave for Paris at 9:00

  • Report to Relief Administration -- See Mrs. Adams. Asking to lunch with them. Adams is getting the propaganda from the delegations of the smaller nations. Find room at 5 rue Leopold Robert. Very nice old lady. Move in baggage. Take bath at Red Cross. Am all ready for business. Find I have

  • See review in Place Concorde -- good view of Gen Foch, But other autos evade by a trick. See Paderewski. Crowd cheers empty cars. Go to Bois & get well lost -- Eat lunch at Red Cross & then run out to Stadium -- great crush, but I climb up scaffolding & get in. Marathon race -- Jumping pole vaulting -- boxing fencing & baseball game all together -- Italian planes do stunts -- Go to Y.M.C.A. evening talk with girl who was at Aix.

  • Report to Adams. He gives me job -- I order file for him, and then go out to hunt up book stores. Go to Censor's office. Visit two other Libraries. Visit Mme. Noel at Levallois -- Perret and make arrangement for tomorrow afternoon.

  • Go to Noëls at noon -- wait, & then eat lunch & go for walk in Bois. Arrange to take lessons

  • Run around among booksellers. Find Club and catalogues and things. Eat at Y Canteen. Hunt for Foyer du Soldat -- Stop at café -- Eat bread and coffee. Workman shows me 20 f doll of his little cross eyed kid.

  • Work in office most all day filing and piling and checking Yougo Slav material -- Lunch at Garden -- Go to Tales of Hoffman at night -- 2 f + 1.25. at Opera Comique -- News that I may be demobilized over here. Must be done out of A.R.A. before Aug 1 -- Meet Capt Page & Lieut. Porter on leaving theatre -- both accompanied.

  • Finish assorting Polski propaganda. Talk about my demobilization in view of new order. Go out to embassies with Prof Adams, in taxi. Act as interpreter & Guatemala puts on airs. At Y.M.C.A. eat well for 2 francs & kid girls along. Go out to Jeannes & make her read half of The Cask of Amontillado.

    My third service stripe begins to-day.

  • Adams proposes $200 a month & immediate discharge. I go to Hotel Crillon and later get Roumanian material & get it listed. Meet Guy, who tells me of a soft snap he is leaving -- teaching English for 100 f. per month and his board. Am to meet Miss Mary at the boarding house. Get mail, including a very ill tempered letter from Marthe -- / Miss Mary & I mutually hate each other on first sight -- Mme. Courtoisnon is somewhat disappointed at her lack of success as a matchmaker. I eat four ice creams at Y. & talk with nurses from venereal ward

    Notes:

    Marthe Alliod sent a card on July 12, which is not in Binkley’s papers, but on the 14th she wrote a long letter and apologized for reproaching him. His offence was evidently not having written since leaving Lyon, but his letter dated July 5 arrived after Marthe sent her card. She attributes this to his habit of forgetting to mail letters, which she calls “poche restant”.

  • Discharged.

    sew on my third Chevron in office while waiting for discharge.

    Go to office. wait long time, finally clerk arrives, & papers are made out. Discharged at 11:30. At noon lunch with Guy at his school. Will try to get place --

    Draw 245.50 from Q.M. and convert it into money orders on account of rate of Change which I do not trust.

    In afternoon return posters to 8 6 rue du Parchamp, Boulogne sur Seine. Don't have time for anything else. Finish reading The Cask of Amontillado with Jeanne in afternoon evening, & talk with M. & Mme Noel afternoon. Have contract with Adams.

  • We move our office into 51 to make way for Pershing's headquarter. Van Every arrives. Adams leaves me with full instructions to care for office in his absence. Mrs Adams advises me to get my suit at Burberry's. & I guess I will --

    From my window I hear the children singing the Marseillaise -- Out of tune, but beautiful -- Go out & dance a little in street, and then later at Y.M.C.A.

    Notes:

    The American Relief Administration had moved into a fifty-room apartment building at 51 avenue Montaigne in January.1 Adams’ offices were evidently originally elsewhere, presumably in Pershing’s headquarters at 45 avenue Montaigne.

    Dale Van Every presumably visited the project to see Binkley, but he had also been approached to join it. He was present at the Stanford reunion in June where Binkley met Adams, and on the day after Adams offered the job to Binkley at lunch, he wrote to Van Every to offer him a similar position.2 Van Every did not join the project, but must have been curious about it. He and Binkley worked for several years in the 1920s to develop a project to publish a documentary history of the war, while Van Every was an editor at Century.


    1. Kendrick A. Clements, “Feeding Europe, 1918–1919,” in The Life of Herbert Hoover: Imperfect Visionary 1918–1928, ed. Kendrick A. Clements (New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, 2010), p. 5.

    2. Paul, Development, pp. 136-7.

  • Go to office & wait all morning for tickets. Finally get them. Agree to go with Miss Etienne to the parade. Place on roof of Hotel Crillon. Go home with Mlle Etienne. Go there afterwards for tea, and then go out to Hotel Crillon & try to see our places, but can't. Meet little Francaise chez Mme Courtoisnon, and find that she was at Beauvais at same time with me. Go to bed early.

  • Get up at 4:00 AM -- Meet Mlle Etienne and go by way of Place de Republique to Hotel Crillon, and then wait for doors to open. Get front row, & see parade. People with boxes, chairs & ladders in the street. -- "Chanter sa combinaison". -- The periscopes. The autos. Find Mlle Etienne very good company -- go to bed at 3:00 and get up at six. Meet little Francaise again & go to dinner with her. Go out and watch fire works with Mlle & one of the boarders. Meet Albertine Macon on Avenue de l'Opera.

    Notes:

    A photo from the Place de la Concorde shows the Hôtel de Crillon (on the left), while the crowds waited for the parade. Binkley must be among the crowd on the roof. His view would have been similar to this film (starting at 5:22).

  • Prof. Adams has not yet gone. We get car and go out among embassies. In evening little Francaise wants to go out again, and I accommodate her. Go to a kind of Kermess or street circus. Get home at 1:00

  • Get cards and order suit for 420 f at Burberry's. I finish Greece. Sit in Y in evening, but don't do much. buy a pair of shoes which are much too big for me. 11½D.

  • Work all day on Serbia and Yougoslavia. Walk home with Miss Etienne, and invite her to dance.

  • Go to see Miss Simon about school job.

    Finish Yougoslavia -- Tram cars are not running, so Miss Etienne & I come home by Metro I take walk in Latin Quarter and later drop into Y to dance but do not get a single dance. I leave note of apology at Concordia. -- Return late & disgusted with life.

  • Send money order to War Risk Insurance. Buy boots for 60 francs. Try on suit -- am not sure that I will like it. Think I will buy a civy coat that will go with boots and breeches. Must get some kind of decent slicker also.

    In evening talk for a long time about ghostly subjects with Courtoisnon family.

  • Go out with Mlle Sitz to a merchant friend of hers, and am shown slickers for 150-190 f. And then go to cemetary -- Jewish custom of putting a pebble on the grave for each visit is curious. Get note from Miss Post. Go to see her. She tells me about "Holding Companies". Then wander down to Louvre, see Mona and a few others, and then to The Garden for lunch. Woman is knocked down by auto. Go to Opera Comique, but line is too long & I give up. & go out to Jeanne's. Meet her sister, & am invited to another home.

  • Work in Office till 5:30 or so, then run out of cards. Get pair of shoes at Commissary, and also lots of other things. Mme Courtoisnon tells me about Boche correspondent whose letters were held up by Police, and whom she will not answer. Spend evening talking. Armande Sils tells about her unhappy childhood, & about her uncle, who is one of the richest men in Armenia.

  • Suit not ready at Burberry's. I go to Standard Co. for cards, stop at Chamber of Commerce, and then buy my things at Galleries Lafayette. Spend about 100f and get everything but hat.

    Do Denmark & Sweden and then help poor old Col. Duvol with his eternal expense acct. Go to 31 Ave Montaigne Y. It is closed, but matron gives me a dinner and we talk for a while. Get home late & go to bed.

    Notes:

    31 ave. Montaigne was a Y.M.C.A. canteen.

  • Prof Adams comes back from Belgium. I finish cards for Bulgaria & Belgium and for two or three smaller countries. Will finish rest tomorrow. A Field Check gets me a pair of shoes. My suit is not yet finished. I get cards. Young man who is working with Lafayette fund talks to me about job with Mme Simon.

  • Work on cards, then Arrange list of legations and see Estonia, Bolivia and Cuba.

  • In morning we walk to Holland and to Armenia. In afternoon go to Costa Rica, Montenegro but I lose Finland's address. Adams invites me to show.

  • Go out to Quai d'Orsaye & get address corrected. Finland and Bourse [?] in afternoon. Esthonia & Armenia send in propaganda Mrs Adams asks about Jeanne Noel. I show great confusion because just that morning I received a note signed "Jenny" & didn't know what to do about it. Go to dinner with Adams & then to theatre

    Miss Etienne invites me to go on auto ride Sunday.

    Notes:

    The note from Jennie is in English, but written by a French woman. She asks why Binkley hasn’t written to her and hopes to arrange a meeting when she gets off work in a bank on the rue du Louvre. I haven’t found any explanation for Binkley’s confusion.

  • Go out with Mlle Sits and try to get tickets at Opera Comique but fail. Then walk along streets. See man who is primer for street vendor and watch him. Go to Odeon & get places for le Grillon du Foyer. Eat at Champ de Mars Y. Go to Rue Tournon and spend afternoon. Grillon du Foyer is wonderful. taken from Dicken's Cricket on the Hearth. Regular Dickens atmosphere is created.

    My Pay with Adams begins to day.

  • Prof & Mrs Adams are at the Office ahead of me for the first time. I read a letter from a man who wants to sell a collection of documents, with his own notes in manuscript. go to see him, and arrange appointment for Dr. Adams. Type cards for Montenegro. See Lithuania, where Prof. gets lots of promises.

    Go out in evening & see Jeanne, who works in Comptoir Francaise, place de l'Opera.

  • Letter from Van invites me to go to Tours and see the Chateau Country on Sunday. I will look into prices of tickets for civilians. I hear that Tours is no place for a private.

    Prof. Adams & I go and examine Emile Barbe's documents, and later go and look at the Gazette des Ardennes, which Prof. Adams buys for 1850 francs.

    In Evening, Mlle Etienne calls for me and invites herself to dance. Have to go home for brassard, but have good time with wonderful music.

    Notes:

    Van is Dale Van Every.

  • Prof. Adams arranges his papers & leaves for Berlin. Gives me final orders to get flowers for Mrs Adams. I eat supper at rue Tournon, & kid 'em along. Go home with Miss Etienne. Look for mail find letter from M. Veilliod and get information on trains to Tours at Quai d'Orsay. Hold bull-fest with Mme. Courtoisnon and her daughter in evening on Franco American marriages etc.

    Mrs. Adams goes with me to try on my suit.

    Notes:

    Binkley wrote the entry for July 31 on the page for July 30 and vice versa, and then corrected the day numbers.

  • Copy documents all day. Find that other typist is to be paid out of fund. Miss Etienne tells me that she is going to Brest. I get my suit at last. In evening I arrange to send flowers to Mrs. Adams Then I go to canteen, come home, and put on civvies. Write to Van, tell him I'm coming Saturday night. Fix up my pass, expecting to go en-militaire.