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Photo of the Week


"How shall we know it is us without our past?"
- John Steinbeck

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Librarian

U.S. Army Ambulance Service, 1917. Daniel Tuthill (1897-1958) of Jamesport (back row, third from left) served with the Ambulance Service during World War I; he was also the first soldier from Suffolk County to receive the French War Cross.  (Image from the World War One Pictorial Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

In April 1917, the United States entered World War I on the side of the Allies (France, Russia, Great Britain, and Italy). The British and French asked for immediate medical support because their medical systems were severely taxed. To meet the needs of war, the U.S. Army's surgeon general, William M. Gorgas, presided over an enormous expansion of the Army Medical Department. When the United States entered the war, the department consisted of about a thousand personnel, but it numbered over 350,000 when peace returned in November 1918. The Surgeon General's Office mushroomed from a staff of 153 at the beginning of the war to over 2,100 at its end. The Medical Department was authorized 444 physicians at the beginning of World War I, and had 31,530 when the war ended. Nearly 24 percent of all U.S. physicians served in the Army. Increases in the other specialties were also dramatic. By war's end the department had 4,620 dentists, 21,480 nurses, and 2,234 veterinarians.

In addition, there were two new precursors of the Medical Service Corps. The U.S. Army Ambulance Service, formed in 1917, had 209 officers, and the Sanitary Corps formed the same year, had 2,919. The department was rounded out with 281,341 enlisted soldiers and 10,695 civilian employees.

Join us today for the opening of our Centennial World War I exhibit, "Over Here, Over There: Long Island and the Great War," at 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served. Arrive on time to see our historical WWI reenactors!

This exhibit will run to January 2018. Exhibit admission is free for all U.S. veterans from April 29 to May 26, 2017.

Over Here, Over There: Long Island & the Great War features artifacts, maps, photographs, weaponry, posters, and more depicting Long Islanders’ experiences during the war...from the front lines to the home front, neutrality to belligerence, and mobilization to victory. Curated by Richard F. Welch. Exhibit design by Richard P. Doctorow. On exhibit through January 2018.


The Suffolk County Historical Society’s PHOTO OF THE WEEK Series is created by librarian Wendy Polhemus-Annibell using historic primary source materials from our local history library’s extensive archives. To subscribe, visit our website or send an email request to Wendy at wannibell@schs-museum.org.

Interested in seeing more historical photos from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society? Spend an afternoon at our Local History Library perusing our extensive archival photography collections. We're open Weds. - Sat., 12:30 - 4:30 PM.

To view our Photo of the Week archives, visit our website at www.SuffolkCountyHistoricalSociety.org.

If you've been enjoying our Photo of the Week, please consider becoming a member of SCHS.

From the Civil War to civil rights, revolutions to restorations, spies to Suffragettes, boatbuilders to bootleggers, and whalers to wineries, Long Island's history comes alive at the Suffolk County Historical Society!

The Suffolk County Historical Society, founded in 1886, collects and preserves the rich history of Suffolk County and beyond. We offer a history museum, art galleries, a research library and archives, and a multitude of exhibits, programs, and educational lectures and workshops year-round. Our unique collections reflect more than three centuries of Long Island history. Click here to learn about Member Benefits!


Copyright © 2017 Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved. No part of this electronic document may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the Suffolk County Historical Society.