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Section II, Chapter II






The administrative program of the Surgeon General's Office as a whole, prior to and at the time of the entry of the United States into the World War, was carried out mainly through the Record, Correspondence, and Examining Division, under the immediate direction of the chief clerk. The functions of the division were concerned with: (a) The administration of the business operations of the office, involving general supervision over the civilian employees, their selection, payment, etc., and the civilian employees of the Medical Department at Large; (b) the keeping of general official records of the office and of the indices of same, and the custody of documents; (c) the administrative examination of claims and vouchers, and the keeping of the accounts of the financial operations of the Medical Department; (d) the settlement of returns of Medical Department property; (e) the construction and repair of general and post hospitals and quarters for noncommissioned officers of the Medical Department: (f) the management of hospital fund; (q) the procurement and distribution of office supplies, stationery, etc., used in the office, and blank forms used by the Medical Department; (h) miscellaneous business not directly pertaining to any other division of the office.

On September 20, 1917, the Examining Sections (c and d) of this division were consolidated with other sections of the old Supply Division, making a new single unit designated as the Finance and Supply Division.1 The section handling the construction and repair of hospitals was made a part of the newly created Hospital Division.2 The remaining sections of the old Record, Correspondence, and Examining Division became the Administrative Division.1

The personnel of the Surgeon General's Office on April 6, 1917, consisted of the Surgeon General, his staff of six medical officers, and 146 civilian employees, 43 of the latter being assigned to the Administrative Division. Within a year's time the personnel, commissioned and civilian, had increased to 181and 1,543, respectively. These numbers were augmented, by December, 1918,to 218 and 1,617, respectively. 3 The organization was gradually expanded, new activities being added as the needs of the service warranted, until in April,1919, the scope of the Administrative Division had the following sections :4 (a) Chief Clerk's Section; (b) Mail and Record Section; (c) Civilian Personnel Section, Medical Department at Large; (d) Hospital Fund and Pay Roll Section; (e) Publicity Section; (f) Information Section; (q) Circulation and Mimeo-graph Section; (h) Stock Room Section.

The Chief Clerk's Section was charged with the selection of eligibles for appointment as clerks in the office, the preparation of letters and telegrams incident to getting new appointees into the service, their assignment, discipline, etc.


The Mail and Record Section handled the receipt and dispatch of incoming and outgoing mail, and the recording, indexing, and filing thereof. The old record card system, long in use throughout the War Department, having proved inadequate for the handling of the increased volume of business consequent upon war activity, was supplanted, by War Department orders, by the War Department correspondence file system based on the Dewey Decimal System of Library Classification. 5 The change took effect in the Surgeon General's Office on October 11, 1917.

The selection, assignment, transfer, and discipline of the civilian force of the Medical Department at Large likewise was handled in the Administrative Division. At the outbreak of the war, the civilian force in the field numbered 260; 6 this was gradually augmented until the maximum force reached 20,000. 7

The preparation of the semimonthly pay rolls for the office clerks, the keeping of their time records, and the custody of the hospital fund, formerly handled by one clerk, during the height of the war required the services of 10 clerks.

The divers calls for information, requests for interviews, etc., reached such numbers as to indicate the establishment of an Information Section, 8 to which visitors were referred and by which their names were recorded and the nature of the business they desired to transact communicated to the branch concerned. This section was established verbally by the Executive Assistant to the Surgeon General, while the office was still located in the State, War, and Navy Building. It was gradually expanded, and was confirmed later by order of the Secretary of War. 8

The Publicity Section became the General Publicity Board, under which title its history is given.

The work in connection with the promulgation of instructions and orders received from higher authority and those emanating from this office became so extensive as to necessitate the enlargement of the circulation and mimeographic service, by which it was executed. The mimeographic work, formerly handled by one clerk, ultimately required the services of one limited service man, six clerks, and three mimeograph and multigraph operators.

The housing situation was so acute in Washington as to discourage newly appointed clerks reporting for duty. A Welfare Subsection of the Chief Clerk’s Section was established, through which were handled requests for living quarters, complaints in general, and questions relating to the general welfare of the female employees, removed from their homes and firesides to the unfamiliar environment of a strange city. During the influenza epidemic the service rendered by the Welfare Section was of immeasurable value in assisting in locating employees too ill to report to the office, having them placed in hospitals, or procuring nursing service, if available.

The influx of civilian employees entailed the procurement of vast quantities of office supplies, furniture, and equipment, the accountability for which, and its distribution throughout the office, devolved upon the Stock Room Section.

The administrative details and the necessary accretions to the personnel, both commissioned and civilian, required to handle the public business with the necessary degree of dispatch, made it imperative to vacate the 16 rooms (8,049 square feet) in the State, War, and Navy Departments Building, which had housed the office since 1887. In July, 1917, that part of the Surgeon


General's Office which was housed in this building, with tie exception of the Statistical Branch of the Sanitary Division, was moved to six floors of the Mills Building, at Seventeenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. 9 The space (32,000 square feet) in this building allotted by the Secretary of War to the Surgeon General was soon found to be inadequate for the needs of the office. The Veterinary Branch was later moved to the Cassell House. 1907 F Street NW. 10 The newly created Finance and Supply Division and the Division of Special Hospitals and Physical Reconstruction were housed in the Premier Apartment Building at 718 Eighteenth Street, 11 while the Statistical Branch was moved, first, to the old Land Office Building at Seventh and E Streets NW.12, thence to the Mills Building, 13 thence to the Hooe Building at 1380 F Street NW.,14 and finally to the garage building at Twenty-fourth and M Streets NW. 15 The combined floor space occupied by the Surgeon General's Office in January, 1918, was 147,966 square feet, which included the Museum and Library Division, housed in a Government-owned structure at Seventh and B Streets SW., with a floor space of 73,818 square feet.

A still greater expansion of files and an augmentation of personnel made it obligatory to seek larger quarters in a building with floor space enough to shelter the different units scattered in nearly every section of the city. Accordingly, in May, 1918, the office, with the exception of the Museum and Library Division, was again moved, this time to Unit F of the Henry Park Buildings (temporary), situated at Seventh and B Streets NW. 16 Originally Unit F was constructed for the use of the Medical Department, but the needs of other War Department bureaus for office space became so pressing that the Medical Department was allotted but 179,078 square feet.

This space enabled the Surgeon General, for the first time since the United States entered the war, to house under one roof all of the activities of his office, with the exception, as stated, of the Army Medical Museum and the Library, which were housed in close enough proximity to facilitate the transaction of business. The rapidity and extent of the expansion of the Surgeon General's Office, and the volume of the work thereby thrown upon the Administrative Division, may be comprehended when one studies the facts and figures embodied in the following table. The organization of this division at the period of greatest war activity is shown in Chart II.

Mail and Record Section, Administrative Division.





(April, 1917, to December, 1919.)

Dickson, R. A., Lieut. Col., S. C., chief.

Gooch, J. L., jr., Maj., Sanitary Corps, chief.

Bonner, W. C., Capt., S. C.

Springman, H. E., Capt., S. C.

Wilson, C. H., Capt., S. C.

Gomprecht, B. S., First Lieut., S. C.

Kernan, W. H., First Lieut., S. C.

Stewart, H. E., First Lieut., S. C.

Wyeth, L. J., First Lieut., S. C.

Jones, R. H., Second Lieut., S. C.

Newell, B. D., Second Lieut., S. C.

Schaefer, Frederick J., Second Lieut., S. C.


(1) Office order, S. G. O., September 20, 1917. On file. Record Room, S.G.O, 50882 (Old Files).
(2) Letter from the Surgeon General to The Adjutant General, April 21. 1917; first indorsement of the Adjutant General to the Surgeon General, May 11. 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 174912 (Old Files).
(3) Morning reports and civilian pay rolls. On file. Administrative Division. Hospital Fund and Pay Roll Section, S. G. O.
(4) Office Order No. 97, S. G. O., November 30. 1918, and Office Order No. 186, S. G. O., April 14, 1919. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 024-1 (Administrative Division).
5) G. O., No. 121, W. D., September 16, 1917.
(6) Book of Estimates, 1918. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., confidential File.
(7) Estimate made from card records on file, Civilian Personnel, Medical Department at large Section, S. G. O.
(8) Letter from The Adjutant General to the Surgeon General, December 5, 1918. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., Confidential File, 040.9.
(9) Memo, from the assistant and chief clerk of the War Department to the Surgeon General; first indorsement. W. D., S. G. O., to the Assistant Secretary of War. June 18. 1917.  On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 46051 (18) and 46051 (23)(Old Files).
(10) Copy of leases between Acting Chief of Supply Division, War Department. and Bradley, Beall & Howard (Inc.) far building No. 1907 F Street NW. On file. Record Room,  S. G. O., 46051(35) (Old Files).
(11) Memo, from the Surgeon General to the assistant and chief clerk of the War Department. October 20, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., Confidential File. 481 (Washington) (F).
(12) Memo, from the assistant and chief clerk of the War Department to the Surgeon General.  May 16, 1917. On file. Record Room, S. G. O., 46051 (13) (Old Files).
(13) Letter from the Surgeon General to the Quartermaster General. June 12, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 46051(20) (Old Files).
(14) Memo, from the Surgeon General to the Assistant Secretary of War. January 10, 1918. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., Confidential File, 481 (Washington. D). C.) (F).
(15) Lease between Chief of Supply Division, War Department, and the Motor Co. (Inc.), of Washington, D. C., January 26, 1918. Copy filed, Record Room, S. G. O.. 481. (Lease,  Washington. D. C.) (F).
(16) Memo, from the Secretary of War to the assistant and chief clerk of the War Department, December 3, 1918. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 024.1 (Office of the Surgeon General.)

a In this list have been included the names of those who at one time or another were assigned to the division during the period April 7,1917, to December 31, 1919, inclusive. There are two primary groups-the chiefs of the division and the assistants. In each group names have been arranged aIphabetically, by grades, irrespective of chronological sequence of service.