In 1949 the people of France donated items to the United States as a way of saying thank you for the food and supplies that had been sent to France after World War II. The French people donated so many things that they were able to fill 49 railroad boxcars. Dubbed the “Merci Train” or “French Gratitude Train” the boxcars were sent to the United States to be distributed among each of the 48 states at the time, with the 49th boxcar being shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii.
The Kansas boxcar went on a tour of 120 towns across the state. It contained mostly personal items from the French people including costumes, dolls, pottery, crystal, books, and historical documents.
Many of the objects in the boxcar were given to museums, libraries, schools, colleges, and other public institutions around Kansas. McPherson College received a small porcelain baby rattle that was used by Louis Philippe I (1773-1850), who was the King of the French from 1830 to 1848 and the last king of France.
The McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation has an assortment of over 30,000 artifacts in collections. The MMAF would like to share some of these so we will be posting some of the more eclectic examples for your enjoyment. We hope to see you in the future. Until then, stay safe and well.