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Section V







To assure the successful prosecution of the war, it was necessary to develop the morale of both the public and the soldiers to a high level which would insure the united effort of every faction, community, and interest of the whole country. To assure the success of the reconstruction program, similar efforts were essential in order that the whole country should understand the benefit expected to the individuals treated and to the civil community. To this end, publicity, recreations for patients, social-service work in its broadest sense, and governmental assurance of vocational assistance for the disabled and of financial assistance for their dependents were necessary. The latter was furnished by the functions of the Bureau of War Risk Insurance and the Federal Board for Vocational Training; the other requirements were furnished by various agencies. Eventually, all these activities were directed and coordinated by the morale officer of each hospital, but this stage was attained only after a gradual development of the morale work.

The earlier aspects of the work concerned primarily the education of the public in the proposed reconstruction program of the Surgeon General's Office, provision for which was made by the creation of the "section of educational propaganda" in the division of special hospitals and physical reconstruction.1 Newspaper publications covering the general idea, the presentation of accounts of reconstruction work in the Allied Armies before meetings of professional men and similar accounts in a series of bulletins published by the Surgeon General's Office, and hundreds of thousands of leaflets distributed by the American Red Cross were the means employed to prepare the ground for the later acceptance of the public and the active participation of the medical profession when the matured plans should be ready for submission. Provision was made for the continuance of this work when the division of reconstruction, Surgeon General's Office, was recognized in May, 1918, by the creation of a section for the "education of the public and of the military service."2 The most notable single instance of this publicity was the devotion of an entire day at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association in June, 1918, to the reading and discussion of papers on the subject of reconstruction in all sections of the meeting.

This educational effort was necessarily of a general nature during the formative stage of the reconstruction plan and pending its approval.




The Official Bulletin was a daily paper published by the Committee on Public Information by order of the President, and the first detailed account of the reconstruction plan was published in the issue of August 1, 1918.3 A publication was desirable which would be devoted entirely to the success of reconstruction. As there was no authority by which the Surgeon General's Office could maintain such a publication, arrangements were made by which that office supplied the material for publication and the American Red Cross paid publication expenses. This pamphlet was entitled Carry On, the first number appearing in June, 1918.4 Its purpose was to explain, primarily to disabled soldiers and sailors, the advantages to be derived from reconstruction and the ideals toward which they should struggle, and to endeavor to inculcate in each individual a determination to "carry on," both during the remainder of their military service and afterwards in civil life.

Articles which were officially accurate were furnished to the newspapers in the effort to get the solid support of the entire country behind the reconstruction plan, for the success of the work would have a great effect in increasing the general morale; its success would depend, to a large extent, upon the influence wielded by relatives and friends of the disabled, for if a father could not perceive the advantages in reconstruction his disabled soldier son would very probably refuse to avail himself of the opportunity.


The need for hospital newspapers developed in the military hospitals even before the introduction of reconstruction. The first one to appear was the Ontario Post, first published by General Hospital No. 5, Fort Ontario, N. Y., August 11, 1917. The next to appear was The Trouble Buster, at General Hospital No. 2, Fort McHenry, Md., April 23, 1918, and this was the first publication of any kind in the whole country which was devoted exclusively to reconstruction work. General Hospital No. 12, Biltmore, N. C., published the first number of The Ward Healer in May, 1918, and the base hospital at Camp Upton followed in June, 1918, with The Cure.

After these pioneer publications there followed in rapid succession weekly newspapers in the various Army hospitals throughout the country.5 The total number of these publications to April 23, 1919, was 35.5 The combined circulation of all the hospital papers was 140,000 copies per week. The circulation of the various papers varied from 500 to 30,000 per week. The usual size, however, was from 1,500 to 4,000 copies weekly.5

The following were some of the important purposes subserved by the hospital papers:5 They constituted an effective means of carrying important messages and information to members of the hospitals and commands; they proved to be one of the most powerful agencies in raising and maintaining the morale of the patients and enlisted personnel; the editing and printing of the hospital papers made a most interesting and profitable school for the training


of disabled men for the newspaper and printing business; the newspapers became important instruments for furnishing information concerning the hospitals to relatives and friends of the men and to the public in general.

In most cases the hospital papers were self-sustaining. They were put upon the news stands and sold upon the streets. The overhead expenses being moderate, the income from the sales was directly applied to the bills for actual materials. In a few cases, as for example, The Trouble Buster, the paper was supported from special funds and circulated without charge.5 Some of the hospitals had print shops equipped with linotype and monotype machines, presses, cutters, etc., sufficiently complete to print their own papers. In other cases the papers were printed by contract with commercial publishers.

The equipments for the hospital print shops were provided largely from funds furnished by the division of physical reconstruction, but in some instances almost the entire equipments were supplied early in the work by private individuals and firms interested in the reconstruction work.5

In order to keep all these publications going, a considerable force of patients, enlisted personnel, and officers was necessary in every hospital publishing a paper.5 The disabled men desiring to learn any part of the printing or newspaper business were placed on the actual jobs in the print shops, working with and under the supervision of skilled men in their special fields. While some men were actually learning the operation of linotype and monotype machines, printing presses, etc., others were being instructed in editorial, reportorial, illustration, and other lines of newspaper work.,

The department of publicity in the Surgeon General 's Office had a force of experienced newspaper men, special writers, artists, etc., who prepared material of all kinds and furnished it to the various papers.5 This centralized and systematized the efforts and assured a representative body of material of a general nature for all the papers.5


The necessity for closer supervision of the morale work in hospitals becoming evident about the time of the signing of the armistice, the Surgeon General, on December 3, 1918, directed each base hospital commander to appoint an officer from his staff to act as an agent of the camp morale officer within the hospital.6 This activity was extended to all hospitals conducting the educational feature of reconstruction in February, 1919, with the additional proviso that the chief educational officer should be designated as morale officer for the hospital.7 With the necessary assistants, he was expected to assure and coordinate the provision of amusements and recreations for all personnel in the hospital, or any other activities which would promote their contentment, and to provide such instruction as was considered to be advisable in raising their standards of moral and physical living.



(1) Letter from division of special hospitals and physical reconstruction to the Surgeon General, United States Army, February 2, 1918. Subject: Report for period ending January 31, 1918. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.
(2) Memorandum from Col. Frank Billings, M. C., N. A., for all officers of the division of reconstruction, May 31, 1918. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.
(3) Official bulletin, ii, No. 375, 1918. Copy on file, Historical Division, S. G. O.
(4) Copy on file, Historical Division, S. G. O.
(5) Report oin newspapers in United States Army General Hospitals, by Lieut. S. J. Vaughn, S. C., publicity officer, division of reconstruction, Surgeon General's Office, undated. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.
(6) Letter to commanding officers all camp base hospitals, Surgeon General's Office, December 3, 1918.
(7) Circular Letter No. 67, Surgeon General's Office, February 1, 1919.