Title: Base Hospital 21 Collection
Extent: 7.0 Linear Feet
Base Hospital 21 – a US military hospital staffed by doctors and nurses of the WU Medical Center and civilian volunteers from the St. Louis area – served with distinction during World War I. The 21st was one the first six military hospitals units sent ahead of the American military to serve in France during the war. The officer corps had been drawn in large part from the medical staff of Washington University Medical School and Barnes Hospital. Dr. Fred T. Murphy, professor of surgery at Washington University Medical School, was commissioned as the commanding officer for the military hospital. Also, Dr. Malvern B. Clopton, professor of clinical surgery at WUSM, acted as the chief surgeon for the base hospital. Julia Stimson, superintendent of Washington University Training School for Nurses, became the unit’s chief nurse.
Organized in July 1916 the unit was mobilized on April 27, 1917. On May 17, 1917, the unit left St. Louis for New York and set sail for Europe on May 19, 1917. Disembarking at Liverpool, England, on May 28, 1917, the 21st trained for a short time in Britain. On June 10, the unit landed at Le Havre, France and on the following day arrived in Rouen, the largest city in France's Normandy region, where it took over and operated British General Hospital No. 12.
The original capacity of the hospital was 1,350 beds, but by October 1918 as many as 1,950 patients were cared for at one time. It received 29,706 surgical and 31,837 medical cases. Of these, 2,833 were American, the remainder being British and other Allied Forces.
The greatest testament of the excellence of the care provided was how many of the unit’s key members were promoted to greater responsibility by the end of the war. The unit’s chief neurologist Sydney Schwab was reassigned as the commander of a first American hospital specifically for shell shock cases, orthopedic surgeon Nathaniel Allison was made co-director of all orthopedic surgery in the combat zone; head nurse Julia Stimson would become the head of the Red Cross nursing service and Chief Nurse of the American Expeditionary Forces, and Fred Murphy would be promoted to head of the Medical and Surgical Service for the Red Cross.
Following the Armistice ending the war on November 11, 1918, the 21st continued to care for the wounded and the sick and increasing repatriated prisoners of war. In 18 months of service in France, the 21st had treated 61,543 patients.
On January 22, 1919, the hospital was demobilized and the last of the patients were discharged or transferred. After several months of incidental duties and awaiting orders, the officers and enlisted men sailed to the U.S. on April 7, 1919, while the nurses, sailed on May 12th. In 23 and a half months of active service, the unit spent 23 months overseas.
After returning to the United States in 1919, Base Hospital 21 was designated a Reserve Officer Corps unit of the General Hospital category. During World War II was known as the 21st General Hospital.
Scope and Contents of the Materials
This collection covers the correspondence, records, and publications from the Base Hospital 21, the Barnes Hospital affiliate military hospital in Rouen, France during WWI. It has seven series, including staff identification cards and X-ray service ledgers.
The collection is open and accessible for research.
Users of the collection should read and abide by the guidelines of the Use of Archival Collections policy at the Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives.
Users of the collection who wish to cite items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication must request, sign, and return a Statement of Use form to the Archives.
For detailed information regarding use of this collection, contact the Archives and Rare Book Department of the Becker Library (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Becker Library exhibit Medicine in Times of Need is an online exhibit based on the 21st General Hospital Visual Collections and the Base Hospital 21 Visual Collections.
Its succeeding base hospital for WWII, the 21st General Hospital, also has a collection located in the Becker Medical Library Archives.
[Item description, Box number, Folder number], Base Hospital 21 Collection, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
Box and Folder Listing
- Series 1: Correspondence.
- Box 1: Enlistment/Unit Family Correspondence.
- Folder 1: Enlisted men needed for Base Hospital 21.
- Folder 2: Men volunteering for service.
- Folder 3: Men and women volunteering for service.
- Folder 4: People seeking positions at hospital.
- Folder 5: Enlistment.
- Folder 6: Enlistment confirmations.
- Folder 7: Enlistment recommendations & orders.
- Folder 8: General correspondence (1917-1919).
- Folder 9: American Red Cross.
- Folder 10: American Red Cross muster-in-roll.
- Folder 11: Rejections.
- Folder 12: Correspondence of family members seeking information.
- Folder 13: Unit family correspondence, 1917.
- Folder 14: Unit family correspondence, 1917.
- Folder 15: Unit family correspondence, 1917.
- Folder 16: Unit family correspondence, 1918.
- Folder 17: Unit family correspondence, 1919.
- Box 2: Personnel Correspondence, A-C.
- Box 3: Personnel Correspondence, D-J.
- Box 4: Personnel Correspondence, K-R.
- Box 5: Personnel Correspondence, S-Z.
- Series 2: Major Malvern B. Clopton.
- Box 6
- Folder 1: Army Book 152 notebook.
- Folder 2: Operations notebook.
- Folder 3: Mobile Hospital No.4 Correspondence.
- Folder 4: Muster-in-roll & membership lists.
- Folder 5: Standardization of Splints: Front Line Orthopaedic Surgery by Nathanial Allison.
- Series 3: Operational Records
- Box 7
- Folder 1: American Red Cross guidelines & muster-in-roll for nurses
- Folder 2: American Red Cross base hospitals & directors
- Folder 3: Annual Report, 1913-1914
- Folder 4: Army ambulance specifications
- Folder 5: Automobiles
- Folder 6: Ambulance body blueprints designed by H. H. Babcock, circa 1917.
- Oversized. Relocated to mapcase.
- Folder 7: Circular of Information Form# 133, 1908
- Folder 8: Clinical charts
- Folder 9: Commemoration Day program, Johns Hopkins University, February 22, 1905
- Folder 10: Doctor's office dispensaries
- Folder 11: Facts about the War, 1917
- Folder 12: Final orders
- Folder 13: Guidelines for rejection from service
- Folder 14: Inventory notebooks for 2811 Washington Ave. & 2406 Locust St., St. Louis
- Folder 15: Military training camps guidelines, Plattsburg, N.Y., 1916.
- Folder 16: Nurses' exams
- Folder 17: Physical examination by the Line Officer
- Folder 18: Physical examination procedures
- Folder 19: Physical examination records for enlistment, A-M
- Folder 20: Physical examination records for enlistment, N-Z
- Folder 21: Quartermaster
- Folder 22: Return to St. Louis program, April 30, 1919
- Folder 23: Rules for the Examination of Recruits, 1910
- Folder 24: Staff applications
- Folder 25: Statistical data charts
- Folder 26: Uniform regulations (Regulations for the Uniform of the United States Army (Revised Edition), 1914; Uniform Regulations, 1914-1915)
- Folder 27: Unit rosters
- Folder 28: Universal Obligatory Military Training and Service pamphlet
- Series 4: Publications
This series contains publications related to the history of Base Hospital 21. In addition to several official unit histories (Service in France, 1918; Activities of Base Hospital 21, circa 1919; and History of Base Hospital 21, circa 1919) it includes several sets of the unit alumni newsletter, the Rouen Post.
In 1936, former members of the 21st asked the American Legion for permission to create a Legion Post restricted to those who had served with Base Hospital 21. Named the Rouen Post No. 242 of the American Legion, it was a rare American Legion Post established not by geographical place but by unit affiliation. First published in May 1936, the Rouen Post was a newsletter published by members of the post. Many issues included recollections of the 21st’s members, including a series entitled “Recollections of a World War Nurse” penned by Retta Snyder – a St. Luke’s School of Nursing graduate who joined the unit in France. William Stack served as the editor and illustrator of the Rouen Post for most of its history. The Post was published monthly in the 1930s, but its frequency became more sporadic in the 1940s, apparently ceasing publication in the 1950s.
- Sub-Series 1: Print Copies of Unit Histories and the Rouen Post
- Box 8
- Folder 1: Service in France by Base Hospital 21, 8 p., June 1918
- The first history of the unit was written only a year into the 21st’s deployment in France. This commemorative pamphlet was printed for the anniversary celebrations of the unit’s arrival in France. It includes a “Muster Roll” of the unit’s members up to that point as well was statements written by the unit’s medical officers and by Nurse Nina I. Shelton and Pvt. 1st Class Joseph N. Meyer.
- Folder 2: Activities of Base Hospital 21, May 1917-April 1919 by Borden S. Veeder, 27 p.
- This 27-page report to the directors of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Red Cross was written in 1919 by Borden S. Veeder, who had assumed command of the 21st after Fred T. Murphy’s promotion. It includes a list of all the personnel who served with the unit as well as those who died in service.
- Folder 3: History of Base Hospital 21 by Maj. Walter Fischel, M.C., n.d.
- The official unit history written by the 21st’s chief medical officer, Walter Fischel, was submitted to the U.S. Surgeon General shortly after the unit was deactivated. The report includes detailed statistics of the unit’s admissions, discharges, and mortality rates per month.
- Folder 4: Rouen Post (bound), 1936-1939
- Folder 5: Rouen Post (bound), 1940-1944, 1946
- Folder 6: Rouen Post (unbound), 1939-1947
- Folder 7: Rouen Post (unbound), 1948-1957
- Sub-Series 2: Rouen Post Individual Issue PDF Files, 1936-1957
- The Becker Library Archives contains several sets of the Rouen Post found among multiple bound volumes and loose issues with provenance from multiple sources including Bill Engel, David W. Brock, Jackson Johnson, and Lee D. Cady. These. Not all of the sets are complete. Scans were made from these various bound and loose issues in an attempt to create as complete a set of the Rouen Post as possible.
- Series 5: Staff Identification Cards
- Box 9: ID cards of stenographers, nurses, orderlies, members of quartermaster
- Series 6: Unit Alumni
- Box 10
- Folder 1: 25th Anniversary Reunion
- Folder 2: 30th Anniversary Reunion
- Folder 3: 50th Anniversary Reunion
- Folder 4: Alumni news events clippings
- Folder 5: Engel, Bill - correspondence
- Folder 6: Ernst, Edwin C.
- Folder 7: Ernst, Edwin C. - correspondence
- Folder 8: Ernst, Edwin C. - news clippings
- Folder 9: Jackson, Justin T. - scrapbook
- Folder 10: Medical staff lists
- Folder 11: Misc. correspondence
- Folder 12: Reminiscenes of Roetgenology during the Last War, 1917-1919 by Edwin C. Ernst (1941)
- Folder 13: Rouen Post copies owned by David W. Brock
- Folder 14: Rouen Post copies owned by Bill Engel
- Series 7: X-Ray Service Ledgers
- Box 11
- Folder 1: X-Ray Register, Army Book 129 (James Johnstone)
- Folder 2: Army Book 129 (Registry of soldiers screened)
- Folder 3: X-Ray Dept. Army Book 129