"Do the Best for Our Soldiers": University of California Medical Service in World War I

UC San Francisco (UCSF), the medical arm of the University of California, played a major role during World War I, both in Europe and at home. This exhibit highlights the ways by which members of the UCSF community were called to duty.
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In This Exhibition

From professionals behind the front lines, to men and women volunteering to knit scarves and garments for civilians and soldiers alike, the mobilization surrounding World War I was vast and diverse. This exhibition focuses on Base Hospital No. 30, a military hospital organized out of the University of California School of Medicine and the San Francisco Bay Area to support U.S. troops in the First World War. Through the facilities and operations of the Base, this exhibition traces the unit’s formation and mobilization, follows the journeys from San Francisco to France, and illustrates how an ancient resort town transformed into the site of a modern hospital.

The stories of Base Hospital 30 are shared through the many and varied roles that individuals filled when this war was waged, including: neurosurgeons who contributed to medical research on nerve lesions, researchers who designed innovative prosthetic devices, and workers at home who knit textiles for soldiers. This exhibition demonstrates the significant effort required to care for sick and wounded soldiers, the scientific contributions of mobilized researchers, the dynamics of daily life in a military hospital, and the support from the San Francisco community.

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Learn more about the history of Base Hospital No. 30:

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Base Hospital No. 30

Base Hospital No. 30 was a division of the U.S. Army, stationed in Royat, France during World War I. It was organized by the University of California and the American Red Cross, and staffed predominantly by UC San Francisco doctors, nurses, and dentists.

This unit would be reactivated during World War II, traveling to England to support American troops overseas.

UC San Francisco

In the early 20th century, UC San Francisco (UCSF) was the only medical college within the University of California System. UCSF represented the whole of the University of California on the frontlines during World War I.


"Do the Best for Our Soldiers": University of California Medical Service in World War I, was curated in 2019 by Cristina Nigro, Ph.D. Candidate at UC San Francisco with the help from Xavier Macy, Assistant Archivist at UC San Francisco Archives and Special Collections. Polina Ilieva, Head of Archives and Special Collections, UC San Francisco provided assistance with this project.

Contributing institutions

This exhibition includes materials from UC San Francisco, Library, California State Library, Hoover Institution, Mill Valley Public Library, Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division, San José State University, Special Collections and Archives, and Sonoma County Library.

Using this exhibition:

The text of this exhibition is available under a Creative Commons CC-BY license. You are free to share and adapt it however you like, provided you provide attribution as follows:

"Do the Best for Our Soldiers": University of California Medical Service in World War I curated by Cristina Nigro, UC San Francisco with Xavier Macy and Polina Ilieva, UC San Francisco Archives and Special Collections, available under a CC BY 4.0 license. © 2019, Regents of the University of California.

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