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Bibliographical Note

Books and Documents > Table of Contents

Bibliographical Note

Most of the sources for this study deal with only one disaster and can be more easily located in the footnotes than in a bibliography. Sources that were particularly helpful in delineating the development of the mission or providing necessary background information are discussed below.

Primary Sources

Compiling a list of instances in which the Army aided civilian communities in natural disasters proved no simple task. Hoping that the offices and agencies responsible for relief work might have such a list, I naively began my research by calling them. The responses to my inquiries were depressingly uniform. First the respondent laughed heartily, then told me his office kept no such record and kindly suggested two other offices or names to call. Each time I followed the suggestion but to no avail. Days later my final contact suggested I call the one with whom I had begun.

The idea of compiling a complete record of Army aid in natural disasters- to determine when it had involved medical assistance- proved as ludicrous as my respondents found it. A fairly comprehensive list, though, was obtained by exploiting a variety of sources. Useful, though disappointingly incomplete, were the Reports of the Surgeon General, published annually from the creation of the Medical Department to the present. Sometimes, but not always, these reported on medical relief missions. More helpful as a rule, but still far from complete, were the Reports of the Secretary of War published each year before, World War II. In 1969, the Office of the Chief of Military History began publication of the Department of the Army Historical Summary, which sometimes mentioned disaster relief. All of the annual reviews, however, were incomplete and had to be supplemented with information from other sources.

Most useful was a list of congressionally approved disaster relief operations prepared by the Congressional Research Service, the majority of which before the Second World War were Army missions. This compilation first appeared in the Congressional Record, 71st Congress,


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3d Session, 1930, pp. 757-59, and was updated in the Congressional Record, 81st Congress, 2d Session, 1950, pp. 11900-902. Another helpful compilation of congressional actions on disasters turned up in a letter and attachments, Edward H. Cavin, to Mr. Schaeffer, 24 April 1952, in the Library of the American National Red Cross, Washington, D.C.

More complete listings of Army aid, though covering only limited periods of time, can be found in the military records at the National Archives. For the period before 1915, a helpful compilation, brought to my attention early in my research by John B . Corr, can be found in a letter and attachments, H.P. McCain to James Hay, 11 January 1915, file 1459754, in Record Group 94. For later periods, Record Group 407, 400.38, contains the following documents that list missions: Relief Operations of the War Department, 1903-1928 (box 2416); Value of Government Property Turned Over to the American Red Cross by the War Department for Relief Purposes, 1925-1930 (box 2406); B.J. Tourville, "Department of the Army Participation in Disaster Relief," 12 July 1948 (box 1351). In addition, Operations in Disaster Relief Assistance Since 1 July 1951, dated 13 January 1954, is filed in 370.1, Record Group 407.

For the years between 1954 and the early 1960's, no good source for finding Army disaster missions exists. For the years after 1963, lists can be made from the files of two "action agencies": the Office of the Disaster Relief Coordinator, Agency for International Development, in the State Department; and the now abolished Directorate of Military Support, the records of which are in the Washington National Records Center. For all periods, however, such listings are incomplete, because Army units sometimes tendered aid without reporting it to the authorities who kept these lists. Mention of some- but assuredly not all- of such missions can be found in articles in military periodicals and through the New York Times Index.

Records and reports for the missions are also located in a variety of Places. For relief missions undertaken before 1954, they are found in the National Archives, primarily in two groups of Adjutant General's Office papers. Reports on missions before 1917 are filed in Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1784-1917, General Records. Documents for each mission are grouped together under one file number that can be found through the indexes. Papers from missions that occurred from 1918 to 1954 are located in Record Group 407, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1918-, decimal file. Toward the end of that period, a few disaster relief reports are filed under decimal 370.1, that designated, for disasters, but most are under 400.38, a supply designation.


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A few other record groups in the National Archives contain information on certain pre-1954 relief missions. Some accounts of Army medical aid to civilian communities stricken by epidemics appear in Record Group 105, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), contains some but surprisingly few medical reports from disaster missions. Records of some late nineteenth and early twentieth century relief operations are in Record Group 192, Records of the Office of the Commissary General. Finally, the papers of the American-Polish Relief Expedition are in Record Group 120, Records of the American Expeditionary Force (World War I), 1917-1923.

After 1954 the Army abandoned its central decimal file, making the historian's task, in locating records of disaster relief missions more difficult. Records management people at the Adjutant General's Office explained that there was no way to locate all the reports after that date except to go through almost all the records of the Army. Such a task was clearly impractical. However, the annual Medical Service Activities reports for major medical commands for available years after 1954 were examined. When they were consulted, these reports were in the files of the Army Medical Department Historical Unit, which has now become a part of the Center of Military History (CMH). For missions in the early 1960's and after, new sources of records exist to ease the problem created by the abolition of the central decimal file. In addition to the annual Medical Service Activities reports on individual commands, after action reports and other records from medical relief missions in the sixties and seventies are in CMH files. Reports on most of the major relief operations by the Army after 1964-1965 can be found in the files of the Directorate of Military Support in the Department of Defense. They were examined when still in the DOMS office but have since been moved to the Washington National Records Center. Yearly summaries and printed case reports on individual foreign disaster missions are kept in the Office of Disaster Relief Coordinator, Agency for International Development, in the Department of State. Although neither type of AID report provides much detail, both show any Army assistance rendered.

Because of the nature of this project, few private manuscript collections were consulted. However, the papers of individual medical officers involved in relief efforts after the Spanish-American War did prove helpful. The most useful of them, the Papers of Jefferson R. Kean at the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia, included some information on relief efforts during the American military government of Cuba and a great deal on such work during the 1906-1909 intervention. Also of


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value in studying the Spanish-American War relief missions are the William A. Kobbé, Halstead-Maus Family, George W. Jean, and Richard M. Johnson papers as well as the H. B. Wilkinson file in the Spanish-American War Collection- all in the archives of the United States Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

In addition to private papers and records of individual missions, other government documents provide information on the development of federal disaster relief policy. Special Regulation 67 (a copy of which is in the Old Military Records Branch, NA) and the series of revisions to Army Regulation 500-60 (available in the Army Library) reveal changes in the Army's conception of its role. In addition, for the post-World War II period, policy changes can also be found in several Department of Defense directives, especially DOD Directive 3025.1, first issued 14 July 1956 but changed several times since, usually titled "Employment of Military Resources in Natural Disaster Emergencies within the United States, Its Territories and Possessions," and DOD Directive 5100.46, "Responsibilities for Foreign Disaster Relief Operations."

Changes in the federal government's relief role can be traced through the Congressional Record and its predecessors using the lists of legislation mentioned above. For an overview of developments after 1947 see Office of Emergency Preparedness, Report to the Congress: Disaster Preparedness (Washington: GPO, 1972), pp. 165-73. A list of federal disaster statutes since 1947 appears in Federal Response to Hurricane Camille, Hearings before the Special Subcommittee on Disaster Relief of the Committee on Public Works, U.S. Senate, 91st Congress, 2d Session (Washington: GPO, 1970), part 2, Appendix. The shift in bureaucratic responsibility for relief can be traced through the following presidential Executive Orders: 10346 (17 April 1952); 10427 (16 January 1953); 10737 (29 October 1957); 10773 (1 July 1958); 11051 (27 September 1962); 11575 (31 December 1970); 11725 (27 June 1973).

Secondary Sources

No adequate history of Army disaster relief exists, and the best available brief overview is unpublished. See John B. Corr, "Disaster Relief and Rescue Operations," in "Two Centuries of Service" (unpublished manuscript, Center of Military History, 1974). Leland R. Johnson has completed a soon-to-be-published history of the Corps of Engineers' role in relief, "Emergency Response: A History of the Army Engineer Disaster Relief Mission, 1794-1950" (unpublished manuscript, Engineer Historical Division, Washington, D.C., 1978). Johnson's thorough account is based


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primarily on Corps of Engineers records not consulted for this study. Because of its different capabilities in disaster situations, the corps' role developed differently from that of the Medical Department or other Army agencies.

General histories of the institutional development of the Army tend to ignore the disaster relief mission, though several studies of the civic action mission mention it in passing. Perhaps the most useful is Edward B. Glick, Peaceful Conflict: The Non-Military Use of the Military (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Press, 1967), but also of some value are Harry F. Walterhouse, A Time to Build: Military Civic Action, Medium for Economic, Development and Social Reform (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1964), and the helpful brief summary (which unfortunately is hard to find) Virgil Ney, The United States Soldier in a Nonviolent Role (An Historical Overview) (Fort Belvoir: Headquarters, United States Army Combat Development Command, 1967). For an examination of civic action work by armies of several countries with some discussion of disaster relief included, see Hugh Hanning, The Peaceful Uses of Military Forces (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1967).

No thorough history of the Army Medical Department exists, but Percy M. Ashburn, A History of the Medical Department of the United States Army (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1929) provides a survey of its development. Mary C. Gillett's The Army Medical Department, 1775-1818 (Washington: GPO, 1981) furnishes helpful background but covers a period prior to most of the activity covered in this study; a second volume in this series covering subsequent years through 1865 is in preparation. Additional information on some aspects of the Medical Department's history can be found in Edgar E. Hume, Victories of Army Medicine (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1943) and Stanhope Bayne-Jones, The Evolution of Preventive Medicine in the United States Army, 1607-1939 (Washington: GPO, 1968).

With one exception, the role of the organizations that aided and eventually replaced the Army Medical Department in providing civilian disaster has not been well documented. I found no general histories of disaster relief work by the Public Health Service, local civil defense organizations, or the National Guard. Even general histories of the guard devote little attention to its role in natural disasters.

The Red Cross, the one exception, has had its disaster relief accomplishments frequently examined. The resulting studies shed much light on the changing nature of disaster relief and the role of the Army, as well as on the Red Cross's own work. Foster Rhea Dulles, The American


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Red Cross: A History (New York: Harper & Bros., 1950) provides a useful organizational history with a good deal of attention to disaster relief. For a discussion of the development of the Red Cross assistance role (though with little on specific instances of aid), see Clyde E. Buckingham, Red Cross Disaster Relief: Its Origins and Development (Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1956). The Red Cross also sponsored a valuable history of the relief operations themselves. It is presented in three volumes, the first two in mimeographed form from the Red Cross library and the third available as a dissertation. They are: Mabel A. Elliott, American National Red Cross Disaster Services, 1881-1918, History of the American National Red Cross (Washington: American National Red Cross, 1950), vol. 20-A; Catherine Fennelly, American Red Cross Disaster Services, 1919-1939 (Washington: American National Red Cross, 1950), vol. 20-B;and Thomas H. Reynolds, "American Red Cross Disaster Services, 1930-1947" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1954).

Social welfare historians have devoted little more attention to the history of disaster relief than have their military and institutional colleagues. No general history exists, but there are three surveys of closely related topics. Walter I. Trattner in From Poor Law to Welfare State: A History of Social Welfare in America (New York: Free Press, 1974) traces governmental policy toward charity, public health, and other welfare activities often associated with disaster relief. Robert H. Bremner's American Philanthropy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960) discusses all types of organized charity over the course of American history. Perhaps most helpful of all is Merle Curti's American Philanthropy Abroad: A History (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1963). Curti deals in his encyclopedic volume with all types of foreign assistance rendered by Americans except that by government. Nevertheless, his chapters on private disaster relief abroad are still extremely useful in studying military aid, and his interpretation of American motives in foreign assistance is provocative.

Medical practice has received more attention than social welfare policy, and historians of medicine have provided many good studies of changes in medical science and public health that furnish useful background material for this study. Among those I relied on heavily were: C.-E. A. Winslow, The Evolution and Significance of the Modern Public Health Campaign (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1935); Richard H. Shryock, Medicine in America: Historical Essays (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966); William G. Rothstein, American Physicians in the Nineteenth Century: From Sects to Science (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins


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University Press, 1972); and John Duffy, A History of Public Health in New York City, 1866-1966 (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1974). Historians of medicine and other scholars have also written several histories of individual epidemic disasters. Two good ones that I found informative are J.H. Powell, Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1949) and John Duffy, Sword of Pestilence: The New Orleans Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1853 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1966), Social historian Charles E. Rosenberg's The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962) is particularly helpful because of his concern with public attitudes toward disaster and how they changed with time.

A few historians have published scholarly examinations of individual disasters other than epidemics. Recently appeared are a history of a very early disaster, James Penick, Jr., The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1976), and two studies of an important twentieth century disaster, Bruce A. Lohof, "Hoover and the Mississippi Valley Flood of 1927: A Case Study of the Political Thought of Herbert Hoover" (D.S.S. diss., Syracuse University, 1968) and Pete Daniel, Deep'n As It Comes: The 1927 Mississippi River Flood (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977). Penick and Daniel focus on the disaster and its effect on people's lives but include some information on relief efforts, while Lohof provides a valuable discussion of the government's organized relief effort. Other historians, usually popular rather than professorial, have published accounts of many disasters, some of which are cited in the text. Something of a genre, these books usually present a series of human interest anecdotes, though the better of them also furnish some useful information on relief efforts.

If historians have not devoted a great deal of scholarly attention to the study of disasters, since 1950 social scientists have. A good introduction to social science theory about human behavior in disasters is Allen H. Barton, Communities in Disaster: A Sociological Analysis of Collective Stress Situations (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1969). In the early fifties the National Science Foundation-National Research Council created a Committee on Disaster Studies which published reports on disaster phenomena. It was abolished in the early sixties; since 1963 the Disaster Research Center in the Department of Sociology at Ohio State University has continued the work. The two groups have prepared and published many studies of disaster behavior, a few of which have been cited in the text. Many of their other monographs also mention military relief efforts (though not Army medical aid), and a few address the theme


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directly. John H. Balloch et al., Studies of Military Assistance in Civilian Disasters: England and the United States, Disaster Research Report No. 2 (Washington: National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, 1953) offers a study of Air Force response in natural disasters. Also pertinent are a monograph and two articles by William A. Anderson: Military-Civilian Relations in Disaster Operations, Disaster Research Center Report Series, no. 5 (Washington: Office of Civil Defense, 1968); "Social Structure and the Role of the Military in Natural Disaster," Sociology and Social Research 53, no. 2 (January 1969); and "Military Organizations in Natural Disaster: Established and Emergent Norms," American Behavioral Scientists 13, no. 3 (January/February 1970).

Another theoretical perspective, one developed by historians in contexts other than disaster assistance, has influenced my interpretation of the development of the Army medical relief mission. Over the last decade, a host of scholars have espoused what one of them has labeled the "organizational synthesis of modern American history." Emphasizing the institutional changes in American society as it evolved from homogeneous communities to heterogeneous society, the interpretation is best represented in a survey text in Robert Wiebe's The Search for Order, 1877-1920 (New York: Hill & Wang, 1967), but many other books and articles have contributed to it or utilized its general framework. Most important of them for my work were: Samuel P. Hays, "The Social Analysis of American Political History, 1880-1920," Political Science Quarterly 80, no. 3 (September 1965); Louis Galambos, "The Emerging Organizational Synthesis in Modern American History," Business History Review 44, no. 3 (Autumn 1970); Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., and Louis Galambos, "The Development of Large-Scale Economic Organizations in Modern America," Journal of Economic History 30, no. 1 (March 1970); Robert D. Cuff , "American Historians and the 'Organizational Factor,'" Canadian Review of American Studies 4, no. 1 (Spring 1973); and John Higham, "Hanging Together: Divergent Unities in American History," Journal of American History 61, no. I (June 1974).