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Executive Committee of the General Medical Board, President Woodrow Wilson’s National Advisory Commission

Standing left to right: Frank F. Simpson, Victor C. Vaughan, William H. Welch. Seated left to right: William C. Braisted, Surg. Gen. U.S.N., William C. Gorgas, Surg. Gen. U.S.A., Rupert Blue, Surg. Gen. U.S.P.H.S., Franklin Martin. Inset: Charles H. Mayo, Rear Admiral Cary T. Grayson, William H. Mayo. <br>(Photo credit: Harris & Ewing)

ACS Founder Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, served as chair of the General Medical Board of President Woodrow Wilson’s wartime civilian National Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense. The Board’s Executive Committee was made up of the three Surgeons General of the Army, Navy, and Public Health Service, and Colonel Kean of the Red Cross. These four men represented the regular arms of the Government with full administrative authority. Lay members included Rear Admiral Cary T. Grayson, who represented the President, Professor William H. Welch, of Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Victor C. Vaughan, Dean, University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. William J. Mayo (alternate, Dr. Charles H. Mayo) of the Mayo Foundation, Dr. Frederic A. Besley, Professor of Surgery, Northwestern University Medical School and Dr. Frank F. Simpson, Professor of Gynecology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Department.

Sometimes also called the Medical Section, this General Medical Board aided the respective departments of the government in enrolling reserve officers, and in obtaining and storing supplies. The regular medical branches of the governmental departments depended on this coordinating committee, with its influential personnel, and its services were in constant demand by them in their efforts to procure appropriations.

As chair of the General Medical Board, Martin invited deans of 95 accredited medical schools in the U.S. to attend a conference at which he appealed for 5000 additional reserve officers in the medical service of the Army and Navy. Other contributions he made in the early days of the Council’s meetings were the establishment of record keeping procedures and parliamentary procedures, the introduction of military curriculum into medical schools, and the standardization of medical supplies. Later, he was instrumental in getting legislation passed to raise the rank of medical personnel in the armed services.

Source: Martin, Franklin H. The Joy of Living: an autobiography, Vol II. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc. 1933.

For more information about College Founder Franklin H. Martin’s World War I contributions and activities, see the Martin Papers in the ACS Archives.

ACS Archives Highlights is a series showcasing the vibrant history of the American College of Surgeons, its members, and the history of surgery. For further information on our featured highlights, search the Archives Catalog or contact the ACS Archivist.