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United States Army Base Hospital Number 12 World War I and II Records

Identifier: 0/20/7

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection has been digitized and can be viewed here: United States Army Base Hospital Number 12 World War I and II Records, 1917-2006.

Boxes 1-3: The first box contains clippings, programs, poems, and the first (and only?) issue of a newsletter from the 1917-1919 period. Also here are issues of a later newsletter (mostly from the 1960s and 1970s) with information about individual members of the unit and their families and about the annual reunions. Of special interest is News Letters no. 31, May, 1973, the “56th Anniversary Album,” which contains many illustrations from the war years as well as from the 1970s.

World War II material in the first box includes several clippings and the first two parts (Feb. 15, 1942-Feb. 28, 1945) of a typescript of the unit's journal.

The second box contains the final part of the Journal (Mar. 2-Sept. 1, 1945), two folders of medical and historical articles (tear sheets from the Quarterly Bulletin of the Northwestern University Medical School), and three folders of mounted small black and white photographs of personnel & military and civilian buildings and scenes, and a few of operations arid wounds.

The third box contains a scrapbook of materials assembled by Jacob Edward Hunsinger (NU, BS, 1923). This contains many Clippings, postcards, letters, telegrams & documents, transportation and entertainment tickets, stubs, and programs, maps, and some insignia. Hunsinger, a private first class, was a member of the original staff of the unit.

Addition, Box 4: The five folders of this addition contain material related to the United States Army Base Hospital Number 12 during World War I. The first three folders contain official and individual correspondence and other personal documents such as work permits and travel visas for hospital personnel. The fourth folder contains programs for entertainment events organized and attended by the hospital staff. The fifth folder contains comments and poems written by hospital patients and staff during the war and reminiscences written later for the 1967 reunion.

Addition, Box 5: The additions include both original materials dating from the World War II era and materials documenting the lives of veterans of the Base Hospital, including the annual reunions held to commemorate their experiences. Records relate to the General Hospital in its various locations, including the hospital ship Emily Weder. Approximately half of the addition consists of memoirs or memorabilia contributed by individual veterans.

Correspondence from Ray and Mary Swantek sets the context for the addition, describing their efforts to collect news and memoirs from the remaining veterans of the Hospital.

Historical material includes a history, “6556-V: A Story of the 12th General Hospital,” by Burns Lewis; mimeographed sketches of the base hospitals in Leghorn, Italy, and Ain el Turck, Algeria; an unidentified roster; a postcard of the Vulcania, the ship that brought the 12th Base Hospital home; and a photocopy of a photograph from 1943. Newspaper clippings (some originals, some photocopies) relate mainly to the Italian locations and those who served there. Two issues of a January, 1945, newsletter document daily life in the camp.

Reunion files document the first reunion in 1946, reunions in 1967 and 1977, and most of the annual reunions between 1980 and 2006. Records include rosters of potential and actual attendees, information about the reunion site, and information about individual veterans. Some years are not documented. A separate file contains a list of veterans from the Italian and Algerian locations, circa 1989.

The Swanteks compiled a folder of obituaries of former members of the Base Hospital who died between 1988 and 2006. Files relating to specific veterans are arranged alphabetically by surname. Three veterans, Florence Keene Carlson, Al Veit, and Elmer White, contributed memoirs of their service at the Base Hospital. Walfred Carlson contributed a brief memoir, written by his wife, along with copies of his discharge papers and a photograph. Two other veterans contributed photocopied materials relating to their service and medals received; and Arthur and Hughlene Cole submitted two copies of a newsletter they published for veterans who served on the U.S. Army Hospital Ship Emily H.M. Weder.

Addition, Boxes 6-9: This addition to the records of the United States Army Base Hospital #12 consists primarily of autobiographical and biographical information about the men and women who served in the Hospital during World War I, including doctors, nurses, officers, and enlisted men. The records mainly document the lives of Base Hospital “alumni,” as they called themselves, after the war, but also include photographs and other items dating from the period of the war.

These records were collected by Roy A. Holmes (Northwestern Class of 1918). Holmes produced the BH12 newsletters for a ten year span, from 1967-1977, and also helped organize the BH12 reunions. Holmes, who was involved in both WWI and WWII, was the last surviving staff member of BH12. He passed away in 1996.

Administrative files, including copies of the alumni newsletters, records of the reunions, roster data from the War and from reunions, are organized alphabetically by title.

Autobiographical and biographical folders are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the individual, and material within each folder is organized chronologically by date. Materials in the folders may include correspondence, clippings from newspapers and the BH12 newsletter, and photographs.

Of nearly 150 participants in the Base Hospital, forty were alumni of Northwestern University. The Northwestern alumni are indicated on the container list by their school (Liberal Arts, Medical, Music, etc.) and class year in brackets.

The addition includes approximately 377 photographs and 80 WWI-era postcards. Most of the photographs date from 1917-1919 and include many pictures of the landscape of BH12 50 years after WWI, taken by “alumnus” Birt Frobish. Other pictures depict people and life in the Base Hospital and surrounding areas. One folder contains a small print (based on a painting by A.F. Bishop) of the sinking of the Mongolia in 1917.

A card file box contains the index cards that Holmes used to record contact information for Base Hospital alumni. Cards are divided into three categories: individuals with whom Holmes still corresponded in 1983, those with whom he had lost touch, and those who had died.

Addition, Box 8, Folder 32: One folder of material relating to L. Nadine Wagner Lindsay, who served as a nurse with the U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 12 during World War II, has been added to the series at Box 8, folder 32. A newspaper clipping and a chronology document Lindsay's life during and after her service in the War; also included is a copy of a poem written in her honor by her soldier-patients.

Addition, Box 8, folder 33 (ca. 1918): One folder of material relating to Lucile Pepoon, who served as a Red Cross nurse with the U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 12 during World War I, has been added to the series at Box 8, folder 33. The folder contains a copy of a newspaper obituary describing Pepoon;s service, starting in May 1917 until her death from trench fever in November 1918. Pepoon was the daughter of noted Chicago-area botanist Herman S. Pepoon.


  • 1917-2006


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


12.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 12 (Chicago Unit), frequently referred to as the Northwestern University Base Hospital, was organized in October 1916 to assist the Allied war effort in Europe, and revived in World War II. Records from various souurces include clippings, programs, poems, newsletters, journals, published articles, memorabilia, correspondence, photographs, and a scrapbook.

Arrangement Note

Arranged alphabetically by subject. Autobiographical and biographical folders in the additions are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the individual, and material within each folder is organized chronologically by date. Photographs are arranged by subject and date.

Method of Acquisition

The U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 12 (Chicago Unit) Records were donated to the Northwestern University Archives by Roy A. Holmes (a private first class with the original staff) on April 15, 1983, as Accession #83-37.

Most of the World War II material was donated by Dr. Ernest McEwen, long a member of the unit, on June 19, 1985 as Accession #85-116.

Separated Materials

Two hundred and sixteen photographs, mainly 4″×6″, were initially added to the photograph collection under the subject heading World War I, Base Hospital No. 12. These were then added back into the body of the collection in 2019 and can be found in Box 11.

Sixty-seven glass slides, 3 1/4″×4″, depicting similar and sometimes identical scenes as the photographs, were initially added to the glass slides collection. These items were also added back into the collection in 2019 and can be found in Box 10.

A box of negatives of World War II photographs was transferred to the photograph collection.

Approximately 20 linear inches of duplicate material was discarded.

Processing Information

William K. Beatty, January, 1989.

Guide to the United States Army Base Hospital Number 12 World War I and II Records
William K. Beatty
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US