The pilots Mule Rearing African American Officers Riveters pilots in dress uniforms African American Soldiers 1 gas masks doughboys with mules

Further Study of Medicine in WW1

The Official History

AMEDD FlagA comprehensive accounting of the U. S. Army Medical Department in World War I can be found in the official history produced by the Surgeon General’s Historical Division. The project began with Major General William Gorgas, Surgeon General from 1914 to 1918, who created an Historical Board to define and oversee the project.  Further1 GorgasSurgeon General William Gorgas

This Board stated the purpose of the history to be a wartime description of the department from "administrative and scientific" viewpoints.  The result, entitled The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, was published from 1921 to 1929, under the direction of Major General Merritte W. Ireland, Surgeon General, 1918-1931 (see Practice of Medicine section).

To study this remarkable resource, one has two choices. The first is to find it in a reference library. The second is to access it at the U.S. National Library of Medicine website. The second option allows one to read it on-line, even to download individual volumes. The following is a guide to assist scholarly research by providing a brief description of each of the volumes, followed by a list of links to them.Further2 IrelandSurgeon General Maritte Ireland

Volume I: The Surgeon General’s Office examines the administrative structure of the department by describing the office’s organization and supervision of administration, personnel, training, finance, supply, sanitation, nutrition, hospitals, labs, internal medicine, infectious diseases, surgery, neurology, psychiatry and more. 

Volume II: Administration American Expeditionary Forces deals with the delivery of medical care in Europe. Section I describes the organization and administrative structure of the Chief Surgeon’s Office. Section II covers the medical activities of the Territorial Sections of the A.E.F. Section III describes the hospital units in Europe, including locations and a brief history of each. Section IV covers the evacuation of patients to the United States. Sections V and VI describe a range of medical activities in France and occupied Germany.

Volume III Finance and Supply covers the department’s set-up and system for the procurement of medical supplies and equipment, the transportation of supplies and equipment to Europe, their storage, and how the department paid and accounted for these items.

Camp Upton, New YorkCamp Upton, New York, one of the mobilization campsVolume IV: Activities Concerning Mobilization Camps and Ports of Embarkation examines the medical support required to ensure mobilization camps, National Guard cantonments and embarkation ports were safe from disease as well as providing for medical care for men housed at these sites.

Volume V: Military Hospitals in the United States describes the types of hospitals - such as camp, general, post, embarkation and debarkation established - including how they were sited, built, organized and administered.

Volume VI: Sanitation examines several topics devoted to preventive measures to ensure the health of the soldiers, such as sites for camps, housing, food, water, waste disposal, control of insects and vermin, control of infectious diseases, and the physical examination of men upon entering and leaving the army.

Vaccination Station in the FieldVaccination Station in the Field
Volume VII: The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War describes the how the department expanded through the mobilization of the nation’s medical talent, to include the training of officers and enlisted men for service in military medicine.

 Volume VIII: Field Operations examines how the department performed its role on the battlefield. Section I gives an overview of how the department was organized at the infantry division level, to include the types of care provided. Section II provides case studies on the medical operations in the 1918 French offensives. Section III is a study of American medical operations in the St. Mihiel Operation and Sections IV and V are the same for the Meuse-Argonne Operation. Section VI covers medical operations for the British offensives and Section VII examines medical support provided in Italy and Russia.

 Volume IX: Communicable and Other Diseases is a resource for understanding how the army dealt with the major diseases confronting it, such as Typhoid Fever, Influenza, Tuberculosis, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, Diphtheria, Venereal Diseases, Smallpox, Chicken-pox, Scarlet Fever, Mumps and more.

 Volume X: Neuropsychiatry describes how the department detected, treated, and provided for the care of men who were found to have a nervous or mental disease, to include an assessment of occurrence of neuropsychiatric diseases in the 

 Volume XI: Surgery was published as two parts. Part One covers the topics of general surgery, orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery. The section on general surgery provides material on wounding agents, battlefield medicine, anesthesia, gas gangrene, wound shock and a discussion of wounds of the chest and abdomen. The orthopedic and neurosurgery sections examine in detail clinical work relevant to their specialties. Part Two is a mix of topics and specialties, including Empyema, Maxillofacial Surgery, Ophthalmology, and Otolaryngology.Applying the Thomas splint Applying the Thomas splint to a broken femur

 Volume XII: Pathology of the Acute Respiratory Diseases and of Gas Gangrene Following War Wounds is divided into two sections. The first examines the pathology of acute respiratory diseases from autopsy specimens, including the influenza pandemic. The second section examines the causes and effects of gas gangrene.

Volume XIII covers two topics.  Part One, Physical Reconstruction and Vocational Education deals with how the department dealt with men requiring further care and rehabilitative treatment, including the types of specialized hospitals created and the treatment provided. Part Two, Army Nurse Corps covers the organization, expansion, administration, and description of nursing in the United States and Europe.Further7 StimsonJulia C. Stimson, Superintendent, Army Nurse Corps

Volume XIV: Medical Aspects of Gas Warfare describes the types of poison gases used in the war, how to protect against them, and how to treat gas casualties. The latter focuses on the physiological actions from different types of gas, their symptoms, and a range of treatments found to be effective.

Volume XV: Statistics was published in two parts: Part One is Army Anthropology, presenting anthropomorphic data collected on soldiers, including physical measurements, hair and eye color, diseases, and physical defects.  It is an extraordinary resource for the state of young males considered to be in good health, 100 years ago.  Part Two is Medical and Casualty Statistics. This contains the aggregate numbers, including the numbers of men in the Army, the numbers of sick and wounded, and many other statistics.  There are over one hundred tables which summarize the data collected.

Surgical ward, Allerey Hospital Center
Surgical ward, Allerey Base Hospital Center, France

Links to the Official History in the National Library of Medicine

Volume I: The Surgeon General’s Office
Volume II: Administration American Expeditionary Forces 
Volume III Finance and Supply 
Volume IV: Activities Concerning Mobilization Camps and Ports of Embarkation 
Volume V: Military Hospitals in the United States 
Volume VI: Sanitation 
Volume VII: The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War 
Volume VIII: Field Operations 
Volume IX: Communicable and Other Diseases 
Volume X: Neuropsychiatry 
Volume XI: Surgery 
     Part One  http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/nlm:nlmuid-14120390RX11-mvpart
     Part Two  http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/nlm:nlmuid-14120390RX12-mvpart
Volume XII: Pathology of the Acute Respiratory Diseases and of Gas Gangrene Following War Wounds 
Volume XIII: Part One, Physical Reconstruction and Vocational Education: Part Two, Army Nurse Corps 
Volume XIV: Medical Aspects of Gas Warfare 
Volume XV: Statistics 
     Part One  http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/nlm:nlmuid-14120390RX16-mvpart
     Part Two  http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/nlm:nlmuid-14120390RX17-mvpart
Overall: the entire 15 volumes

Sources of Images Used

The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, Volumes 1-15 (Washington 1921-1929)
Image of Major General William Gorgas: Gillett, Mary C., The Army Medical Department 1917-1941 (Washington, 2009)
Image of Major General Merritte W. Ireland: Volume II: Field Operations, The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War (Washington 1923)
Image of Camp Upton, New York: Gillett, Mary C., The Army Medical Department 1917-1941 (Washington, 2009)
Image of Adjusting and improved splint: Volume VIII: Field Operations, The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War (Washington 1925)
Image of Surgical ward at the Allerey hospital center: Gillett, Mary C., The Army Medical Department 1917-1941 (Washington, 2009)>
Image of vaccinating the troops in the field: Gillett, Mary C., The Army Medical Department 1917-1941 (Washington, 2009)
Image of Julia C. Stimson: Bernard Becker Medical Library, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine website

Further study on American Military Medicine

Kansas University Medical Center in World War I

home ku medschoolKUMC, as it was in 1918Base Hospital #28 was formed in Kansas City, Missouri, around the physicians and nurses of the medical school and medical center of the University of Kansas.  Several years ago, KUMC established a website to document the effort, as well as to collect other material concerning World War I medicine.  The link to the website is:  http://www.kumc.edu/wwi.html

Base Hospital #28 was formed over the winter of 1917-18.  Its personnel went to Fort McPherson, Georgia, in February, 1918, for training.  The unit arrived in France in June, 1918, and was stationed in Limoges. http://www.kumc.edu/wwi/base-hospital-28.htmlhome nurses 2Nurses from Base Hospital $28 in Red Cross Uniforms

A number of other documents and essays on the War are also available on the website.  http://www.kumc.edu/wwi/essays-on-first-world-war-medicine/index-of-essays.html



Further study on American Military Medicine

The Army Medical Department 1917-1941

by Mary C. Gillett

stretcher bearers

Part of a multi-volume Military History Series from the U.S. Army Center of Military History,  this volume chronicled the building up and the operations of the Army Medical Department in World War I.  (A previous volume detailed the years 1865-1917)   This concluding volume, was published in 2009.   It looked specifically at World War I and its aftermath.  

Ms. Gillett's material was largely taken from the 15-volume official history (see above).  She detailed operations of the AMEDD in the U.S., including organizing, mobilizing, training, and treating patients. She extensively discussed in-theater operations in France, especially the fight for resources, the slow build-up, and the sudden rush of battle and consequent casualties.  She went into some detail about operations in north Russia, Siberia, and other areas in which U.S. troops found themselves. 

For soldiers who were either temporarily or permanently disabled, the Army provided prolonged hospitalization and rehabilitation, a new responsibility for Army medicine.  Today, the Veterans Affairs medical system provides a great deal of this kind of care, but after WW1, it was the responsibility of the Army Medical Department.  After the war, the Army sought to improve its organization and infrastructure to be more ready for another war, and Gillett chronicles how the Medical Department tried to stretch its budget to provide patient care and readiness for war.

Further study on American Military Medicine

U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History

Wounded in Cart AMEDD
Transporting a Wounded Soldier in a Cart
The United States Army Medical Department (AMEDD) maintains an Office of Medical History.  Its website has a number of items of interest to anyone who wishes to learn more about the work of the Medical Department in World War I.  The link to the website is:  http://history.amedd.army.mil/ 

 Among the items of interest is an appendix to the official history, by John Greenwood.  The document is titled, "Learning from the War:  An Analysis of the Wartime Experiences of the AEF's Medical Department.  The link is:   http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/medicaldepartment/LearningAppVol2WWI.html 

 A Masters' Thesis from the Army War College in 1990, by Johathan Jaffin, is entitled "Medical Support for the American Expeditionary Force in France During the First World War."  While a secondary source, it is a good history of the medical effort during the war.  http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/Jaffin/default.htm

 The website has a number of other documents of interest, including the formal histories of the Army's Medical Corps, Nursing Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Service Corps, Medical Specialist Corps, and Veterinary Corps.  All of these played important roles in the war.  

Further study on American Military Medicine

U.S. National Library of Medicine Digital Collections

National Library of Medicine Building

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), in Bethesda, Maryland, began in 1836 at the official library of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army. The NLM today is a multi-faceted institution which has played the leading role in making biomedical research available, and enhancing incorporation of new scientific findings into medical practice. It is the world’s largest library of biomedical sciences, and has developed digital information services which deliver gigabytes of data to users each day. The NLM is part of the National Institutes of Health, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is located physically in Bethesda, MD.

As a part of this effort, the NLM maintains a number of specialized websites. In particular, material about World War 1 is to be found at:

WW1 Medicine

Contact: WW1.Medicine@worldwar1centennial.org

Contributors to
American Military Medicine in World War I
This web resource has been generously contributed by and is being curated by:

  • Charles W. Van Way, III
  • W. Sanders Marble
  • George Thompson

"Pershing" Donors

$5 Million +

Founding Sponsor
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The Lilly Endowment