Lucy Kennedy Shaffer grew up in a wealthy family in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from Massachusetts’ Smith College in 1908. During World War I, Shaffer volunteered with the Smith College Relief Unit, which was founded in 1917 by Harriet Boyd Hawes to bring assistance to areas of France devastated by the war. The unit was recognized by the U.S. Department of State and affiliated with the American Red Cross and American Fund for French Wounded. Frank Shaffer, Lucy’s father, wrote on the back of her portrait that she assisted with French refugee work. After the war, Lucy returned to Cincinnati and was employed as a local schoolteacher.