Do Your Part
In order to succeed every American had to contribute to the war effort. They fought on the frontline, treated the wounded and sick, and worked on the homefront. Members of the Library Company certainly did their part.
Group portrait with George de Schweinitz (Third person standing in the back row). Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Dr. George E. de Schweinitz (1858-1938), a famous eye specialist, served in France during the war, attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Medical Corps. He transplanted his whole sanitarium to France so that no American would be deprived of his sight if there was a chance of saving it. He made notable advances in his field working as a physician and surgeon at several Philadelphia hospitals and later as a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania. He became President of the American Medical Association from 1922-23 and wrote a number of important books. He served on the Library Company’s board of directors from 1905-1930 and was a shareholder from 1905 until his death. (Share #1020).
Frederick Gutekunst, William J. Taylor. (Philadelphia, ca. 1905). Albumen print cabinet card. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Dr. William J. Taylor, Jr. (1861-1936) worked at the Philadelphia Orthopedic Hospital beginning in 1884 with the only interruption being his service during the war. As a surgeon stationed in Le Tréport, France, he operated on and stabilized patients, so they could be sent across the Channel to England for more care. In letters home, he described the conditions in France and his patients, many of whom had horrific wounds. “Gas attacks are to my mind the most unjustifiable of all methods of attack, as the physical suffering produced is terrible….” wrote Taylor. “When the mustard gas was first used, we received a large number of the first convoy of them, and they came in so fast and so many bad cases that we worked night and day, every man and woman in the hospital, matrons and stenographers, and indeed everybody who could lend a hand.” Dr. Taylor attended thousands of patients arriving in waves after battles. “We keep three tables going, with three anesthetizers at work and go from one table to another as fast as we can.” He was on the Library Company’s board of directors from 1909-1935 (as President from 1934-35) and a shareholder from 1910 until his death. (Share #232).
United States Army, Military discharge paper for Dr. William J. Taylor (1919). Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
“Unloading Wounded from Hospital Ambulance.” Illustration from American Military Hospital No. 1, formerly American Ambulance Hospital of Paris (1918).
Dr. James P. Hutchinson (1867-1943), a prominent surgeon, sailed for France in 1915 to serve in the American Ambulance Service with a unit from the University of Pennsylvania. From 1917 until the end of the war, he commanded the American Red Cross Military Hospital. After four years, he retired attaining the rank of Colonel. He earned the Army Distinguished Service Medal for his untiring devotion to duty in the “alleviation of the sufferings of our sick and wounded” and the Cross of the Legion of Honor by the French government. After the war, he became the medical director of Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. He served on the Library Company board of directors from 1917-1936 (as President from 1935-36) and was a shareholder from 1910 until his death. (Share #1133).
Owen Wister, The Pentecost of Calamity (New York, 1916). Gift of Monica Litzring.
Philadelphian Owen Wister (1860-1938) is most recognized for his book The Virginian about the American West. A close friend of Theodore Roosevelt, Wister likewise advocated for the United States to get involved in the war and attacked President Wilson’s inaction. He wrote Pentecost of Calamity to rebuke the atrocities committed by Germany. He declared that “the world is one. All humanity is in the same boat. The passengers multiply, but the boat remains the same size. And people who rock the boat must be stopped by force.” Wister served on the Library Company’s board of directors from 1903-1932 (as President from 1930-32) and was a shareholder from 1900 until his death. (Share #886).
Agnes Repplier, Counter-Currents (Boston, 1916).
Although not a shareholder, Agnes Repplier (1855-1950) spent a great deal of time at the Library Company conducting research and writing. An exceptionally popular author renown for her wit and sarcasm, she penned over 400 essays and two dozen books. Agnes befriended Theodore Roosevelt, a leader in the preparedness movement. In Counter-Currents, she voiced criticism of the neutrality and peace movement and of the Quaker citizens of Philadelphia who did not want their taxes going toward military preparedness. Horrified by the invasion of Belgium and the sinking of the Lusitania, she promoted America joining the war. The Library Company had several copies of this title, which shareholders checked out frequently.
Portrait of William W. Keen (Philadelphia, 1920).
William Williams Keen (1837-1932) is proof that Library Company members are extraordinary! Born in Philadelphia, he is renowned as America’s first brain surgeon. He astonishingly was the only commissioned officer to have served in both the Civil War and the First World War. As a surgeon, he treated soldiers after the First and Second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg. He was a Major in the U.S. Army Medical Reserve Corps. during World War I (at the age of eighty!). Dr. Keen also was an acclaimed teacher of surgery and anatomy and a prolific author, writing over 650 journal articles and books. He was president of a number of organizations, including the American Medical Association, the College of Physicians, and the American Philosophical Society. He purchased a Library Company share in 1884 and held it throughout the rest of his long life. (Share #1117).
Portrait Bust of William W. Keen (ca. 1921).
The Alamo (San Antonio, Texas, ca. 1918) Color halftone photomechanical postcard.
Colonel William Innes Forbes (1868-1967) sent this postcard of the Alamo from Fort Sam Houston, Texas where he was the commander of the 309th Cavalry Regiment. Forbes, a member of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, addressed this postcard to fellow First Troop member William B. Hart. The changing nature of modern warfare made horse-mounted cavalry obsolete, and the unit became the 57th Field Artillery Regiment in August, 1918. He was a Library Company shareholder from 1906 until his death. (Share #842).
Fellow Officers, Medical Corps in the Toul sector, France 1918. From a scrapbook created by George Norris. (Seated in the middle). Courtesy of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
Dr. George W. Norris (1875-1965), a physician at the Pennsylvania Hospital, served in France from May 1917 to December 1918. He first worked in Le Tréport near the Channel and then in April, 1918 transferred to a hospital in Neufchateau, in Northeastern France. Here he would train newly arrived American staff about the treatment of poison gas. He retired as a Colonel and returned to Philadelphia to resume his position at the Pennsylvania Hospital. (Share #781).