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Base Hospital No. 41 collection

Identifier: MS-17

Scope and Contents

Of unique relevance to the University of Virginia Health System is the Base Hospital 41 collection. It includes: photographs and negatives of Base Hospital 41; photocopies of photos held by the National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine; Base Hospital 41 newsletters; news clippings; medals; excerpts from Glenn B. Updike's wartime diary; documents relating to Chief Nurse Margaret Cowling; a history of Base Hospital 41; "The University of Virginia Base Hospital Forty-One," by the Commanding Officer, Julian M. Cabell; a historical sketch of Base Hospital 41 by Deming J. Shear; correspondence and photos related to reunions; and other archival material.


  • Creation: 1905 - 2009

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be subject to copyright.

Biographical / Historical

After the United States entered World War I, Dr. William H. Goodwin contacted the Red Cross in Washington D.C. in regard to organizing a base hospital at the University of Virginia. The authority to organize a hospital was granted, and UVa President E. A. Alderman recommended the appointment of Dr. Goodwin as director. On June 23, 1917 the hospital was assigned number 41. Dr. Goodwin learned he would need to recruit all the supporting staff of the hospital as well as its doctors and nurses. It was also his responsibility to acquire funds to purchase the supplies for the hospital as the War Department had determined that only fully equipped and supplied hospitals would be accepted for active service. Dr. Goodwin contacted the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the U.S, which had collected from its members a substantial amount of money to be used as a war relief fund. The Elks agreed to furnish all of the needed funds and deposited the money with the Red Cross.

Well-qualified officers were selected as well as 149 enlisted men, 49 of them UVa alumni or students. On March 5, 1918, the detachment entrained for Camp Sevier, South Carolina, where it was organized by Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Julian M. Cabell and no longer considered a Red Cross unit. Two months later after intensive training, Cabell reported to the Surgeon General that the unit was ready for overseas duty.

Finally on July 26, 1918, the Base Hospital No. 41 unit arrived in St. Denis, France, near Paris at the park of l'Ecole de la Legion d'Honneur. The hospital was established in the building used for schooling children of the members of the Legion of Honor. Secured for Base Hospital 41 by the American Red Cross, it was a stately eighteenth century building in a lovely park setting. The school dormitories were converted into hospital wards, and by August 12th Base Hospital No. 41 was ready to receive patients, meaning that the wards, operating rooms, laboratories, and ancillary services were set to function.

The first convoy consisted of 136 patients who were treated promptly and efficiently. The capacity of the building was soon reached and new tent wards were constantly being pitched in the park. Eventually the hospital was equipped to care for 600 patients in the building and another 2200 in the tent wards. One of the most stressful periods was from 4 PM on October 19, 1918, to 10 AM on October 22, 1918, when 693 patients were admitted to an already full hospital.

Base Hospital No. 41 had to contend with the influenza epidemic of 1918. A considerable percentage of both personnel and patients were attacked, and four staff members died of pneumonia following flu. Although not at the front, the unit also suffered from several air raids.

When the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, nearly three thousand patients were in the hospital. Two and a half months later, all the patients had been evacuated, and the hospital ceased to function. The unit was demobilized on May 1, 1919.


1.66 Linear Feet

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collected by Bernard P. Chamberlain and other members of Base Hospital 41 and donated to the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.

Physical Description

1.75 linear ft. (4 boxes, ca. 1100 items)


Processed by:
Historical Collections Staff
A Guide to the Base Hospital No. 41 Collection, 1905-2009
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2013-11-21: Converted to schema conforming EAD by dtd2schema.vh.xsl.

Repository Details

Part of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Repository

Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue
P.O. Box 800722
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0722 United States