Skip to main content

12th General Hospital Collection

Identifier: ghsl-3

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The 12th General Hospital Collection is comprised of the papers of James A. Conner, who served as the hospital’s head of the communicable diseases section, and Michael L. Mason, who served as the hospital’s chief of surgical staff, as well as four items from Paul A. Raber, a 1940 graduate of Northwestern University Medical School who served with the 12th General Hospital. While the collection contains documents that pre-date World War II and those that relate to the lives of these men after the termination of their military service, the majority of the collection focuses on the recruitment, training, and daily activities of the physicians, nurses, and enlisted men who staffed the 12th General Hospital. The collection includes: correspondence, memos, patient files, protocols, reports, publications, meeting minutes and receipts of the Officer's Club, photographs, poetry, uniforms and insignia, and artifacts that provide insight into both the official duties of the medical personnel and some of their pursuits during their leisure time.


  • 1916-1988
  • Majority of material found within 1942-1945


Language of Materials

The materials are primarily in English though there are documents written in French and Italian.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to files containing patient health information is restricted until 50 years after a person's death according to HIPAA; consult the special collections librarian for details. For the digitized items in this collection, Public Domain Mark 1.0 applies, as they have been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.

Biographical / Historical

US Army Base Hospital No. 12 was organized in October 1916 to assist the Allied war effort in Europe during World War I. It was reactivated in February 1942 for service in World War II and renamed the 12th General Hospital. The unit deployed to North Africa in December 1942 and was stationed in Ain-el-Turck, a resort town outside of Oran, Algeria. Unit personnel worked for weeks to turn this collection of 90 villas and cottages into a functioning 1000-bed hospital. In December 1943, the unit sailed to Naples, but personnel spent the next 6 months on detached service—working for various hospitals and commissions in the area—because a suitable hospital facility could not be found for 12th General. From June to November 1944 the Hospital was stationed in an Italian barracks building in Rome and was upgraded to a 2000-bed capacity. At its peak, the hospital housed 3011 patients there. The unit spent November 1944 through September 1945—its final months of active service—in Leghorn (Livorno), Italy. The hospital was set up in school buildings along the coast and was upgraded to a 2400-bed capacity. The 12th General Hospital discharged its last patient on June 29, 1945. The unit remained in Leghorn, however, to serve as a staging area for deployment to the Pacific Theatre or the United States. The unit was officially deactivated on September 15, 1945. During its World War II service, the 12th General Hospital treated nearly 30,000 patients at its quarters in Ain-el-Turck, Rome, and Leghorn. Just over half of these cases required surgery, in which the unit excelled, only losing 53 men on the table. In addition to its hospital cases, 12th General Hospital physicians were instrumental in running the Typhus Commission in Naples, the Venereal Disease Center in Naples, and the Malaria Control Unit.


15 Linear Feet (9 records boxes, 1 smaller archival box, and oversize items including a painting, uniform, army trunk, flag, a framed photograph, and a flag.)


The 12th General Hospital Collection is comprised of the papers of Michael L. Mason, James A. Conner, and Paul Raber who served as part of Northwestern University's 12th General Hospital Unit stationed in North Africa and Italy during World War II.


This is artificial collection arranged into three main series. Each series comprises a separate collection donated by a member of the 12th General Hospital: James Conner, Michael Mason, and Paul Raber. The decision was made to create one artificial collection encompassing all materials related to the 12th General Hospital because some of the Conner and Mason materials were not marked after initial accession. We believe that all materials have been arranged in the appropriate series, but due to this missing link in the chain of custody, we cannot be entirely certain

Documents that contain patient health information are housed in separate folders within each series and are restricted.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The University Archives acquired the Michael Mason papers in two accessions: #85-116 (separations from General Hospital No. 12 records) donated on June 19, 1985 by Dr. Ernest McEwen, and #88-97 (separations from the Frank and Claudine Mason papers) donated on May 3, 1988 by Claudine V. Mason. It is inferred that Galter Library received the Mason 12th General Hospital materials that had been a part of these larger donations during the 1980s. The James A. Conner materials were donated by his son, Jim Conner, in 2007 and 2016. The Paul A. Raber items were donated by Raber in 1993.

Related Materials

Related materials include the United States Army Base Hospital Number 12 World War I and II Records, collection identifier 0/20/7, housed in Northwestern University Archives. This collection has been digitized and is available at the following url:

The series of articles titled "Historical Notes of the Twelfth General Hospital" were published in the Quarterly Bulletin of Northwestern University Medical School from Spring 1947 to Winter 1958. They are available digitally via PubMed -

Separated Materials

Duplicates and extraneous items were removed. An entire binder with Northwestern Quarterly Bulletin articles was discarded due to the condition of the documents and the fact that better copies were already a part of the collection.


Selected materials from the 12th General Hospital have been digitized and are available via Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center Institutional Repository -

Guide to the 12th General Hospital Collection
Gabrielle Barr
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center Repository

320 E. Superior Ave.
Chicago IL 60611-3008 US