Born in Chicago, Florence Royer trained as a librarian. In 1918, with a brother serving in the US Army, she requested a leave of absence from her position with the Chicago Public Library to serve in the YMCA canteen service. She wanted to go overseas to support her brother, who was posted in Paris. Despite the Armistice, signed only weeks before the Library approved her leave of absence, Florence traveled for more than two years as part of the YMCA, first as a canteen worker, and, later, as a secretary for the National War Work Council, serving with the American Expeditionary Force in France, Belgium, and Germany.
She returned to France and Germany with the YMCA many times until her marriage. At some point between 1920 and 1925 she met Walter Bradley. For their honeymoon the couple traveled through South and Central America before returning to Boston. Florence and Walter remained in Massachusetts until 1944, when they emigrated to Europe and donated Walter’s top hat, carrying case, and Florence’s YMCA uniform to Historic New England.