Donald P. Myers Collection on Base Hospital No. 50, 1918-1988  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Myers, Donald P., 1898-1991
Donald P. Myers Collection on Base Hospital No. 50
1918-1988 (inclusive)
2 boxes
Collection Number
Photographs, documents, clippings and books relating to Army Base Hospital No. 50 of Seattle
Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library
Sophie Frye Bass Library
Museum of History & Industry
P.O. Box 80816
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-324-1126
Fax: 206-780-1533
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public by appointment.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Donald P. Myers was born in Seattle, Washington on September 2, 1898. He was a clerk at Northwest Trust and Savings Bank when he was enlisted on March 27, 1918. He served as a Private First Class at Base Hospital No. 50, and was discharged from the Army on May 15, 1919. He died on January 8, 1991 in Newport Beach, California.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of photographs, documents, clippings and books relating to Base Hospital No. 50 of Seattle, and to Donald P. Myers' service with the unit, which served in Mesves, France in 1918 and 1919. The photographs in the collection include group and individual portraits of officers, enlisted men and nurses, and scrapbook pages containing snapshots taken at Base Hospital No. 50. Records belonging to Donald P. Myers include correspondence, various Army camp tickets, and a pay booklet. The materials relating to reunions and veteran activities include rosters, letters, commendations and certificates. These materials appear to have been removed from a scrapbook at some point, as they have glue and black paper residue on the backs.

The collection also includes a book of World War I cartoons by Bruce Bairnsfather, and a copy of The History of Base Hospital Number Fifty, complied and written in 1922 by the Official Committee of Base Hospital 50. This 190-page book contains a detailed history of the Base Hospital, including many photographs. Newspaper clippings document the creation of the base hospital at the University of Washington, and the unit’s Seattle homecoming in 1919.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

The United States Army did not have an established medical corps when the country entered World War I in 1917. The military was ill-prepared to deal with the physical and psychological injuries of trench warfare, and the first conflict in which deadly gases were used as a weapon. As American casualties increased, the Army rapidly produced a hospital system based on the French and English war model in use for the past three years. At great risk, stretcher-bearers moved the wounded from the battlefield, and horse-drawn or motorized ambulances rushed them to mobile field hospitals for emergency treatment. From there, trains and road convoys transported the severely injured to ships headed for England, or large base hospitals located near the French coast.

Across the United States, base hospitals were quickly mobilized at universities and civilian hospitals. In October 1917, the American Red Cross authorized their Northwest Division to organize a base hospital in Seattle, providing the local Chapter raised $50,000 to equip the unit. The Seattle Girls’ War Work Association, headed by Gladys Waterhouse and Katherine Kittinger, organized a fund raising bazaar at the Seattle Arena Hippodrome during the week of December 16-25, 1917. Over $100,000 was raised, $50,000 of which was turned over to Red Cross Headquarters in Washington D.C. for the purpose of establishing Base Hospital No. 50. The Seattle unit became the last base hospital authorized by the War Department for the Red Cross.

Base Hospital No. 50 was created at the University of Washington, under the support of President Henry Suzzallo. On October 25, 1917, noted Seattle physician Dr. James Beaty Eagleson, already a major in the Army Medical Reserve, was appointed director of the base hospital. The unit was mobilized on March 27, 1918 at Fort Lawton, Washington.

The Base Hospital unit consisted of medical staff, nursing staff, and civilian enlistees without previous medical experience. Personnel included 26 officers from the Army Medical Corps, 150 enlisted men and 64 nurses, later increased to 100. On April 6, 1918, the organization was transferred to Camp Fremont, California, where it received three months of additional training. The main group reached the hospital facility in Mesves sur Loire, France on August 6, 1918. Many of the wooden barrack wards were still unfinished. On August 15, the first consignment of seriously injured patients arrived. The capacity of the hospital was 1,000 beds, with a crisis expansion to 1,950. Base Hospital No. 50 was a special facility for compound fractures and joint injuries. The total number of sick and wounded treated was 7,399, with 1,135 surgical operations.

Base Hospital No. 50 was closed on January 20, 1919. The hospital personnel arrived in New York April 20, 1919, and were demobilized at Camp Lewis, Washington. Shortly after the war, the personnel of Base Hospital No. 50 formed a veteran’s group, and they continued to meet until around 1986.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format by clicking on the camera icons in the inventory below.

Restrictions on Use

The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Donald P. Myers Collection on Base Hospital No. 50 , Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Photographs, circa 1918-1960Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1992.68.1: Panorama photograph of Base Hospital Number 50 officers and enlisted men at Camp Merritt, N.J.
Cole Co. , Asbury Park, N.J. (photographer)
Caption on photo: Base Hospital No. 50. American Exp. Forces -- Camp Merritt, N.J.
1919 April 20
1/2 circa 1918
1992.68.3: Studio portrait of Donald P. Meyers wearing VFW cap
circa 1960
1992.68.4: Photograph of military pack contents on ground
Handwritten on back: Our pack (ready for inspection)
circa 1918
1992.68.5: Donald Myers outdoors in uniform
2 photographs
circa 1918
1992.68.6: Men near low wooden structure
Handwritten on back: To be our home
circa 1918
1992.68.7-.11: Photographic postcards of Base Hospital 50 and personnel
5 postcards
Postcards depict Base Hospital 50 and the hospital cemetery in Mesves-sur-Loire; men lined up with meal pails; and tents at Camp Fremont, California.
circa 1918

Ephemera, 1918-1987Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1992.68.12-.13: Camp meal tickets belonging to Donald Myers
2 tickets
1992.68.14: Base Hospital 50 Recreation Hall ticket to "Red Cross Entertainment"
1992.68.15: Menu for Thanksgiving dinner at Mesves Hospital Center
1918 November 28
1992.68.16: Sleeping Quarters card for the S.S. Karmala
1992.68.17-.18: Individual Pay Record Book for Donald Myers
1992.68.19: Pencil drawing of man with bottle tray entering barracks, titled "Castor Oil Enters"
Drawing is signed "Roper 1918"
1992.68.20: Humorous memo from "Commanding General, American Expeditionary Forces" regarding four "heroes" of Base Hospital 50
1918 December 25
1992.68.21-.23: Letters of commendation to president and trustees of University of Washington on the performance of Base Hospital 50
1992.68.24: Roster of known addresses of living personnel of Base Hospital Number 50
1972 November 11
1992.68.25: Orders from the War Department to named privates of Medical Enlisted Reserve Corps, Base Hospital Number 50
Donald P. Myers' name is included on the list of men ordered into active service, to be mobilized from Seattle to Camp Fremont, Palo Alto, California for temporary duty.
1918 March 27
1992.68.26: French certificate issued to veteran Donald P. Myers for his service to France in World War I
Signed by French Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs Georges Fontes.
circa 1987
1992.68.27: Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc. official ritual booklet
1992.68.28: Base Hospital 50 reunion guest list
1992.68.29: Thank you letter from Department of the Army to Donald P. Myers
Regarding a questionnaire filled out by Myers on his World War I service, as well as their acceptance of Myers' offer of historical material related to Base Hospital 50.
1983 July 21
1992.68.30: Letter of invitation to 44th reunion of Base Hospital 50 in Seattle
1963 October 15
1992.68.33: Scrapbook pages with newspaper clippings and telegrams
Scrapbook pages are comprised of articles from 1918-1919 related to Base Hospital 50, as well as 3 telegrams from Donald Myers to his parents. Folder also includes a loose clipping from 1982 about the few remaining veterans of Base Hospital 50.

Magazine and newspaper articles, 1988Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1992.68.31: King County Medical Society Bulletin article on Dr. James B. Eagleson
Dr. Eagleson, of Seattle, was the organizer and director of Base Hospital 50.
1988 April
1992.68.32: Article "What Ever Happened to those Forty and Eights?" by Manuel A. Conley, published in The Indian Head
Photocopy of article about the fate of French boxcars (used in both World Wars) that arrived in the United States as part of the 1949 "Merci Train," also known as the "Forty and Eight." Folder includes a 1987 snapshot of one of the boxcars in Baton Rouge, taken by Donald Myers.
1988 January
Container(s) Description Dates
1992.68.34: Fragments from France, book of cartoons by Captain Bruce Bairnsfather, published by The Bystander magazine, London
1992.68.35-.36: The History of Base Hospital Number Fifty, by the Official Committee of Base Hospital 50
Includes letter from Dr. James Eagleson to members of Base Hospital 50, delivered with copy of the book.
The History of Base Hospital Number Fifty is available in digital format from the Washington Digital Archives here.
1992.68.37: Wally - His Cartoons of the A.E.F.
Wallgren, Abian A. (Abian Anders), 1892-1948 (artist)
Abian Wallgren was an American soldier in the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Wallgren drew comics for the "Stars & Stripes," the official newspaper of the A.E.F.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • United States. Army. Base Hospital No. 50
  • Veterans' organizations--United States--Washington (State)
  • World War, 1914-1918.
  • Geographical Names :
  • United States--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Photographs