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Medicine in the First World War

The First World War began in Europe in the summer of 1914. America remained neutral until the spring of 1917 when, provoked by unrestricted German submarine warfare, it declared war on Germany and immediately began preparations for sending troops to Europe to join Britain and France in the fight against Germany. Wisely, under the aegis of the War Department, during the next year, the United States Army mobilized medical resources in major American cities to create one hundred large base hospitals that would be located many miles behind the front but immediately accessible by highly efficient ambulance trains. This website has been created to tell the story of Base Hospital #28, the 2,500 bed military base hospital that was formed by Kansas City doctors and nurses and which arrived in Limoges, France, in July 1918. During the six months of its active operation it served nearly ten thousand patients. The hospital was led by doctors who were associated with the medical school of the University of Kansas before and after The Great War. The website will also examine unexpected medical challenges, e.g. the influenza epidemic of 1918 and gas gangrene. Ultimately, the website will be expanded to include essays on all topics relative to First World War Medicine.

As this homepage makes clear, the website is a cooperative effort of The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri and the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

If you have any questions about this website or are interested in writing an essay on some aspect of Medicine in the First World War, please use this online form to contact us.

Last modified: Jul 26, 2018

"North Dakota Nurses Over There 1917-1919"
by Grace E. F. Holmes, MD
published by the American Legion Auxiliary - Department of North Dakota

The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences announces:
"Medical Care During the First World War"
A Special Virtual Issue with an Excerpt from Wounded


Medicine in the First World Ward

Initial research for the Medicine in the First World War website was conducted by Anthony L. Kovac, MD, Frederick Holmes, MD, MA and Grace Holmes, MD. more >>

Photos and historic references were provided by the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, and Clendening History of Medicine Library.