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.
In 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.