Treating the Wounded


Kendall Emerson, circa 1917

Gift of Mrs. Kendall Emerson to the Archives of Harvard Medical School, 1962







In November 1916, the Harvard Corporation, feeling that lack of continuity of medical personnel was deleterious to the endeavor, voted to maintain the Harvard Surgical Unit for the duration of the war and place it under the supervision of Hugh Cabot as Chief Surgeon. Cabot agreed to this appointment provided that Harvard abandon its neutral status.

Arrangements were then made to change the official status of the Unit from one of neutrality under the Geneva Convention to one of avowed sympathy with the cause of the Allies and to make the Unit an integral part of the British Army. The British Government thereupon agreed to grant to members of the Unit who signed for the duration of the war commissioned rank in the Royal Army Medical Corps without requiring them to take the oath of allegiance to Great Britain, a privilege never before granted to persons not subject of that Empire. 



Field Medical Card, May 1917

Gift of M. Blanche Wallace to the Archives of Harvard Medical School, 1971

As wounded soldiers were evacuated from the battlefield for hospital treatment, each was issued a field medical card for identification with a brief diagnosis or assessment; the card was in a window envelope and tied to the individual, with red-edged envelopes used to denote severe or urgent cases. 

When more detailed information was needed, the AFI 1237 was completed, as in this example from a patient admitted to No. 22 General Hospital where he was treated by Kendall Emerson.

In February 1917, Dr. Cabot became the Officer Commanding at No. 22 General Hospital. Many of the patients were British and Canadians soldiers who had been wounded in the fighting around Ypres. 


Medical Case Sheet (Army Form I. 1237), August 15-17, 1917

Gift of Mrs. Kendall Emerson to the Archives of Harvard Medical School, 1962


The Harvard Surgical Unit
Treating the Wounded