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First World War Medicine Study Group

The Great War has been very important to the University of Kansas Medical Center and its Department of the History and Philosophy of Medicine for many reasons. Not the least being that most of the physicians, surgeons, and nurses who left Kansas City for France in 1918 with Base Hospital #28 were associated with the University of Kansas Medical and Nursing Schools before and after their military service.  For the past four years (2009 to 2013) this department and institution has supported the First World War Medicine Study Group, comprised of faculty, support staff, and others who have been examining hospitals and medical practice on the Western Front during The Great War of 1914 to 1918.  Included are Anthony Kovac, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology; Grace E. F. Holmes, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and of Preventive Medicine, emerita;  Paul Schloerb, MD, Professor of Surgery, emeritus; Mani Mani, MD, Professor of Surgery, emeritus; Nancy Hulston, MA, Archivist of the University of Kansas Medical Center;  Dawn McInnis, Rare Book Librarian of the Clendening Library; Jonathan Casey, MA, Archivist of the  National WW-I Museum at Liberty Memorial; Dan Ginavan, Documentarian; George Thompson, MA, MFA, Historian; Moya Peterson, MA, PhD, Assistant Professor, Schools of Nursing and Medicine: Frederick Holmes, MA, MD, Professor of Medicine, emeritus, and of the History of Medicine; Jan Schall, PhD,The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; and Ryan Fagan, MA, the study group secretary.

The basic primary source materials used by this group are in The Archives of the National WW-I Museum and The Archives of the University of Kansas Medical Center. Much of this easily available, already-catalogued material has yet to be thoroughly examined and used by the study group and other scholars. Within other archives in the Kansas City Metro Area, such as the regional branch of the National Archives and the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and even beyond, for example the libraries of the University of Kansas, are much greater collections of primary source materials relevant to Medicine in The Great War yet to be identified and studied.

During the past six years this group, collectively, has given 35 presentations and lectures, 5 posters, and has published 2 articles in scholarly journals.  As interest in the centennial of the Great War increases, the scholarly output of this group and associated researchers will surely increase as well. The principal aim of the First World War Medicine Study Group is to increase and expand the study of regional primary source materials with presentations and publications as appropriate and possible.  A secondary aim is to encourage and assist other academics and scholars in the study of First World War Medicine.  The Department of the History and Philosophy of Medicine of the University of Kansas Medical Center is the ideal venue to pursue these two aims in the coming years, particularly 2014 through 2018.

During the period 2014 through 2018 it is anticipated that this group will continue to speak and publish, will sponsor exhibits at the Clendening History of Medicine Museum, and will encourage hospitals and other medical facilities in the Kansas City Metro area to recognize the centennial of The Great War in a variety of ways.  A number of scholarly societies will meet in Kansas City during the centennial years, for example The German Studies Association, and it is hoped that the study group can provide them with materials and presentations of First World War Medicine.  Diaries of physicians and nurses who served in France in 1918, presently held in The Archives of the University of Kansas Medical Center, will be evaluated for publication.

An exciting new venture is creation of a website, Medicine in the First World War, formed as a cooperative venture by The National World War One Museum at Liberty Memorial and The University of Kansas Medical Center, its host. Drawing on the extensive records of Base Hospital #28, the 2,500 bed military general hospital that went from Kansas City to France in 1918, this website is rapidly growing both as a primary source of information about Base Hospital #28 and about Medicine in The Great War.

It is anticipated that this website will grow continuously through the centennial of The Armistice in 2018.

You may contact members of The First World War Medicine Study Group at the Department of the History and Philosophy of Medicine of the University of Kansas Medical Center through the group secretary, Ryan Fagan, at 913-588-7040, email rfagan@kumc.edu, or the departmental administrator, Ms. Julie Stark, at 913-588-7098, email jstark2@kumc.edu.

Last modified: Jul 26, 2018
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