September 2010

Base Hospital No. 26

Every war requires that doctors and nurses become soldiers. The University of Minnesota Medical School first became involved with such an effort as World War I spread across Europe.

img0158.jpgIn October 1916, half a year before the United States declared war with Germany, the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic began preparations for establishing a base hospital at the request of the Surgeon General. The unit, known as Base Hospital No. 26, organized itself over the summer of 1917 under the auspices of the American Expeditionary Forces and waited for the call to active duty. In December 1917, the War Department mobilized the unit. It was not until June 20, 1918 that the unit reached its destination of Allerey, France. In sum, the unit’s equipment and staff were designed to support a 1,000 bed hospital. It cared for nearly 6,000 patients through 1919.

Historical information about Base Hospital 26 is available from a variety of sources. The Minnesota Alumni Weekly chronicled the activities of the Base Hospital through regular articles and published letters from the unit’s staff. Also, several archival collections have material related to the unit including the papers of Dr. Moses Barron, a University of Minnesota pathologist who served as an officer in the unit. Included are photographs, correspondence, diaries, and related information all pertaining to Base Hospital No. 26.

See a short typewritten history below of Base Hospital No. 26 as an example of the materials available in the Barron papers at the University Archives.


Above the fold

This last week marked the 99th anniversary of the dedication of Elliot Memorial Hospital. The September 5, 1911 afternoon edition of the Minneapolis Journal announced the dedication taking place that day “rain or shine.”

img0156.jpgErected at a cost of $155,000 dollars, the Elliot family provided approximately $115,000 to honor Dr. Adolphus Elliot, a former Minnesota physician who passed away in 1902. The legislature provided the remaining $40,000 plus another $44,000 for equipment.

The site of the new hospital anchored the proposed new campus south of Washington Ave. Elliot Hospital spanned the southern edge of the new campus along the Mississippi River and the new anatomy building (now Jackson Hall) marked the northwestern corner. University President George Vincent ceremoniously laid the anatomy building’s cornerstone on the way to the hospital dedication.

In tandem with the gift from the Elliot family, 38 prominent individuals of Minneapolis provided the $42,000 to purchase the land for the new hospital as a gift to the University. Many of the family names are familiar today including Pillsbury, Dunwoody, Shevlin, McKnight, Gillette, Donaldson, and many others.

The 115 bed Elliot Memorial Hospital served two key functions. First, it was a modern clinical teaching facility for medical students integrated into the campus environment. Second, it provided free health care services for charitable cases from across the state. Initially all hospital services were offered free of charge.

Elliot Memorial Hospital is now the Elliot Wing of the Mayo Memorial Building.

Read more about the dedication and construction of the hospital from the Minneapolis Journal. Articles from below the fold or on subsequent pages are available at the University Archives. Also note the articles related to the State Fair.