[image: The Work of the American Red Cross During the Great War]



Chapter III



The field covered by this chapter includes a large number of distinct, important activities. Certain activities were conducted almost entirely by the chapters. Others were responsibilities of forces which reported to divisional and national headquarters. In all lines of work there was an intimate relationship between the local and central parts of the organization. In carrying on the activities that fell to them, chapters applied the general policies worked out at national headquarters and were aided by supervision extended by their divisional headquarters.

There is, therefore, no clean-cut dividing line between work done by chapters and work done by the national and divisional organizations. There are, however, certain activities in which chapters played a predominant part, and these may be placed in a group as related activities. Likewise, activities in which the national and divisional organization played a predominant part may be placed in another group. This plan has been applied in the sections that follow, and, within the two major groups, each important line of work is discussed separately.


Production of Relief Articles

Eight million chapter women, with the help of many of the junior members, produced in the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, over 371,500,000 relief articles, with a value of nearly $94,000,000, for the benefit of American and Allied soldiers and sailors and destitute civilians.

For all of this work standards, designs and patterns were set by national headquarters. There, too, quantities to be produced were fixed and allotted to divisions and by the divisions to chapters. Materials were ordered through a central point and distributed to chapters through divisional warehouses. By these and similar measures, every effort was made to have the entire work handled effectively.

Diagram 2. Value and distribution, by classes, of chapter-produced articles. Twenty months ending February 28, 1919.

The table given below presents a classified list showing the quantities and estimated values of these chapter-produced articles. The values given are conservative, representing only the cost of the material plus an allowance for labor at the rate of fifteen cents per hour on the time required by an average worker. Thus, for the total production value of approximately $93,978,000, $61,062,000 represents material and $32,916,000 represents labor.


The greater part of these chapter-produced articles was sent overseas, as shown in the following table:

Table 11: DISTRIBUTION OF CHAPTER-PRODUCED RELIEF SUPPLIES, Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

The value and distribution, by classes, of these supplies is presented graphically in Diagram 2,.

Map 5 presents a comparison between the thirteen Red Cross territorial divisions on the basis of value of produced articles per chapter member.

Map 5. Value of chapter-produced articles, by divisions, per chapter member. Twenty months ending February 28, 1919.

In addition to the production of Red Cross supplies, the Red Cross, through the chapter workers, undertook to make a great many special relief articles required by the Surgeon General of the Army, the Government providing the war materials, the Red Cross returning finished articles (without charge). Under this arrangement, 22,637,625 articles were produced with a total value of $3,334,000.

The most important single activity of the junior members of the Red Cross was the part they took in producing relief articles. Their work in this connection was not confined to the standard articles made by chapter women, but extended to making furniture, games, splints and other hospital appliances, and specially prepared foods. It opened fields of service to boys as well as to girls. That the children played an important part is indicated first, by the fact that their production represented about ten per cent. of the whole, and second, by the following table presenting a list, with quantities and values, of the things they produced:


Home Service---Work for the Families of Soldiers and Sailors

There was a common French saying during the war which ran, "We will win if the civilians hold out." The home service work of the Red Cross was developed to help in every way possible the families of soldiers and sailors, and, by preventing trouble and sorrow as far as it could be prevented, to affect helpfully the morale of the men in camps and overseas.

The problems presented to home service workers are as numerous and varied as there are causes for human worry. Perhaps the children are sick, or the landlords are harsh, or employment is needed, or money is required to bridge a temporary need. It may be that discharged soldiers and sailors need a helping hand. Perhaps the family is contented, but wants information concerning allotments, allowances, Army regulations or something else. Whatever the problem, the Red Cross home service section is very willing to help. Meeting these and thousands of similar problems is the "home service" task.

During the month of February, 1919, the Red Cross handled 297,000 home service "cases," i. e., instances where services were rendered or information was given to families.

It is estimated that home service extended to 500,000 families during the period covered by this report.

The growth of home service work from February, 1918 to February, 1919, is shown graphically in Diagram 3.

Diagram 3. Home service rendered to families of soldiers and sailors February, 1918, to February, 1919

Money expended in this work is no measure of the work done, far less of its value. While thousands of families were helped financially, the greatest help was in the personal services rendered by the workers. Nevertheless, up to February 28, 1919, the chapters had spent $8,790,000 on this work, while national headquarters expended $1,204,730.61 in operating the civilian relief bureaus in headquarters' cities through which the home service sections were organized, the workers trained, the work developed and supervised and many matters attended to that could not be handled locally.

At the start of home service work, the chief difficulty was to provide trained workers. The supply was limited to those chapter workers who could enter a home and really assist the family without undermining self-respect or the ability for self-support, and who could spare the time for the work. To train new workers, home service institutes were organized by the divisions, and courses were given through the chapters. In both the institute and the chapter courses the training consisted of classroom study and actual field work in home service.

With these trained workers as a nucleus, home service sections were established within the chapters. On February 28, 1919, there were 3,618 sections with 11,190 branches and with 50,000 workers devoting all or part of their time to the work.

Practically every square mile in continental United States is now covered by home service sections, the distribution of which by States is shown by Map 6.

Canteen Service

The Red Cross canteen service was developed to give supplementary food, or complete meals, to moving troops, as well as to distribute other articles that would relieve the tedium of the journey; also to render personal services to both sick and well troops en route to and from camps and points of embarkation. Many canteens were equipped with rest and reading rooms, shower baths, etc.

On November 1, 1918, just before the armistice, there were 55,000 canteen workers and 700 canteens. The location of the canteens is indicated by Map 7, below.

During the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, more than 587,000 men who were ill or injured were given medical aid that enabled them to proceed on their journey, while 9,700 men who were too ill to travel were transferred to hospitals.

Map 6. 3,618 home service sections, by States, February 28, 1919. NOTE: No attempt has been made to indicate the exact location of any home service section.

In the same period, refreshments were served 40,000,000 times. In other words, each of the soldiers, sailors and marines in the service of the United States during the war was served with free refreshments by the Red Cross canteen workers on an average of eight times. A classification of the men receiving Red Cross canteen service is given below:

Table 13: REFRESHMENTS SERVED FREE BY RED CROSS CANTEENS IN U. S. , Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

A list of the more important items distributed by the canteens follows:

Table 14: SUPPLIES DISTRIBUTED FREE BY RED CROSS CANTEENS IN U. S., Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

Map 7. 700 Red Cross canteens in U.S., November 1, 1918

Motor Corps Service

The Red Cross motor service was developed to render supplementary aid to the Army and Navy in transporting troops and supplies, and to assist other Red Cross workers in conducting their various relief activities. The service is composed of a number of chapter motor corps, consisting of volunteer women who give at least sixteen hours a week of their time.

Although this activity was commenced early in the war, it did not grow to large size until the summer and fall of 1918. On November 1, 1918, there were over 12,000 motor corps workers, most of whom were donating not only their time, but also the use of their cars.

During the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, a mileage of more than 3,572,000 miles was covered by the automobiles operated by the motor corps. The diverse character of the work during this period is indicated below:

Table 15: HOURS OF SERVICE OF RED CROSS MOTOR CORPS, Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

Red Cross Work in Spanish Influenza Epidemic

The activities of chapters are a myriad. The work touched on in the preceding sections of this chapter has all been of a distinctly war character. However, even during the war period the tasks regularly assumed during peace times were not ignored. While these tasks are too numerous to be mentioned in this report, an illustration of the type of work that chapters undertake aside from the special obligations of a war nature, may be given by citing the Red Cross work during the Spanish influenza epidemic.

The Red Cross threw all its available resources into the common fight against this disease. Hospitals were furnished equipment and supplies, and assisted in every possible way. Convalescent houses and diet kitchens were established and operated, and food and other necessary supplies were distributed. More than 18,000 nurses and other workers were furnished by the Red Cross chapters to care for the sick. Countless face masks were made and distributed. The motor corps helped substantially. The entire national organization worked as an active auxiliary of the United States Public Health Service. Up to February 28, 1919, while the disease was still active, about two million dollars had been expended by the organization in its work.

Instruction in First Aid

The object of the Red Cross instruction in first aid given through chapters is to teach men and women how to render emergency assistance when injuries occur and a physician is not at hand. During the period covered by this report 5,728 classes were held and instruction in first aid was given by 2,864 teachers and examiners. 63,008 students completed the course, passed the examination, and were given the Red Cross first aid certificates.


Nursing Service

The Red Cross nursing service might well be termed the epitome of the Red Cross as a whole. Always one of the most important branches of the organization, its importance is greatly enhanced with the coming of war. During the war period, its principal task was to secure and equip trained nurses for the Army and Navy.

During the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, 23,822 nurses were enrolled as Red Cross nurses. Of these, 19,931 nurses were assigned to active duty with the Army, Navy, United States Public Health Service and the Red Cross overseas service.

Of the number of nurses assigned, 17,986 went to the Army, 1,058 to the Navy, 284 to the United States Public Health Service, and 603 to the overseas service of the Red Cross.

Over eighty per cent. of the nurses in the Army Nurse Corps, and over sixty per cent. of those in the Navy Nurse Corps, were mobilized by the Red Cross.

In addition to the numbers mentioned above 1,177 nurses who were not able to undertake active overseas service were enrolled as home defense nurses.

Vitally related to the above was the enrollment of 2,248 nurses' aids, i. e., women with a practical knowledge of nursing, and the enrollment of 2,558 dietitians.

While the war phase of the nursing work naturally had first interest during the war period, peace-time activities were not overlooked.

Public health nursing, which involves community nurses whose duty it is to perform nursing and other public health services within the territory assigned to them, and which promises to be one of the largest peace-time activities of the organization, was continually developed. Communities are encouraged to employ such workers and the Red Cross trains, recruits and assigns qualified nurses for this work. A great deal of educational work is done, and nurses are helped to obtain the necessary special training by scholarships, loans, etc.

Considerable progress was made in the teaching of home hygiene and care of the sick, and home dietetics---also important branches of the regular nursing service work. In the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, over 5,000 classes were held in home hygiene and care of the sick in which 80,000 students were enrolled and over 60,000 certified upon the completion of the courses; over 500 classes were held in home dietetics, and more than 4,500 students certified.

Approximately $3,500,000 was appropriated during the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, for carrying on the various phases of the nursing service work in the United States. A single item consisted of an appropriation of more than $3,000,000 for equipment of nurses who were sent into overseas service. The operation of the nursing bureaus at national and divisional headquarters which direct and carry on all of the work described above cost approximately $465,000.

Camp Service

It is believed that through its "camp service" the Red Cross helped in some way practically every soldier, sailor and marine in the service of the United States.

This activity, the object of which was to assist the Army and Navy authorities to promote the well-being of soldiers and sailors in the United States, involved the distribution of comfort articles, the rendering of service to men in hospitals, the operation of a communication service between men and their families and other work of a similar nature.

The operations of the camp service have extended to 339 camps, hospitals and other military and naval establishments in the United States. The places where this service was conducted are shown in Map 8 below.

Map 8. 339 military and naval stations in the United States where camp service was conducted.

To perform the duties assigned to it, the Red Cross found it necessary to construct a number of buildings in the various military and naval establishments. Up to February 28, 1919, 250 buildings were erected, including ninety-two convalescent houses where soldiers and sailors on the road to recovery could pass their leisure time and find recreation, and sixty-one nurses' houses where nurses could rest and amuse themselves when not at work. Obviously, the good accomplished by these houses cannot be measured statistically, but a classified list of such houses follows:

Table 16: RED CROSS BUILDINGS IN CAMPS IN U. S., February 28, 1919

The buildings and equipment cost approximately $3,000,000.

One of the principal services rendered by the Red Cross in camps was the free distribution of comfort articles and other similar supplies.

These supplies were often given out at the specific request of commanding officers who had found that certain articles were needed and needed quickly by their men. Supplies were not distributed without the permission of the commanding officer. Approximately 2,700 kinds of articles were distributed free. A list of some of the principal articles distributed follows:


In a sense, the most important phase of camp service consisted of the work done for sick and wounded men in the military hospitals in this country. The task was one of personal service---doing the thousand and one things that the regular hospital staff could not possibly do. As far as possible, each patient was visited every day. The following table presents statistically a record of a few of the services performed:

Table 18: HOSPITAL SERVICES IN U.S., Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

Among their other duties the Red Cross representatives in camps and hospitals handle what are known as "home service cases." Thousands of situations arise in which soldiers and sailors become worried about their home affairs; they tell their troubles to the Red Cross representative, and he communicates with the local chapter workers who do their best to straighten out the difficulties. It sometimes happens that the domestic situation of a soldier or sailor becomes so critical as to make a furlough or even a discharge advisable. In such cases the Red Cross representative ascertains the true situation through home service channels, and communicates with the commanding officer. Following is a record of this work:

Table 19: HOME SERVICE CASES IN U.S., Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

It was often both a necessity and a privilege to make small loans to men in camps in great need because of temporary financial worries. Loans were restricted to legitimate causes, and were made with approval of commanding officers to boys called home by critical illness of mother or other close relatives, to casuals or men invalided home from overseas whose pay was in arrears, to assist men commissioned from the ranks in securing outfits, etc. Up to February 28, 1919, 25,803 loans were made, amounting to over $325,000.

All of the Red Cross work in each camp or hospital was carried on by a field director, aided by assistants, home service and hospital workers etc. On February 28, 19I9, 1,584 people were engaged in the work.

Camp service work in the United States, taken all together, required expenditures aggregating about $38,000,000 during the twenty months ending February 28, 1919. Of this, about $6,000,000 went to purchase supplies and for all other cash expenditures, about $29,000,000 represents the value of chapter-produced supplies sent to the camps for distribution and about $3,000,000 was used in constructing buildings. The operation of the military relief bureaus at national and divisional headquarters which developed and supervised all of this work, as well as related activities, cost a little less than $570,000. Mention may also be made in this connection of contributions aggregating $300,000 to the (Federal) Commission on Training Camp Activities---organized by the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy for work involving recreation and health of American soldiers and sailors.

Map 9. 37 Red Cross sanitary units in U.S., February 28, 1919

Sanitary Service

Closely related to the camp service just described is the Red Cross sanitary service, embracing sanitary units, made up of bacteriologists, sanitary engineers and inspectors, Red Cross public health nurses, other trained workers and laborers, which assisted Federal, State and local authorities in securing sanitary conditions in the civil districts surrounding or adjacent to cantonments, camps and naval bases.

There were thirty-seven such units, covering in their work approximately 1,200 square miles, and located as shown on Map 9 above.

Perhaps the most vital part of the work of these units was in helping to blot out certain diseases and in preventing the spread of others. During the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, 391,756 antityphoid inoculations and 153,543 smallpox vaccinations were made. The extent of the anti-malaria work during the same period is indicated by the following figures:

Table 20: RED CROSS SANITARY SERVICE IN THE PREVENTION OF MALARIA IN U. S., Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

The helpfulness of the sanitary inspection work which formed part of the program is suggested by the table that follows:

Table 21: RED CROSS SANITARY INSPECTIONS, Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

The work described above required 194,250 bacteriological laboratory examinations. Closely related to this laboratory work was the work of four mobile (railway car) laboratories which were equipped to assist when epidemics threatened Army or Navy camps. Up to February 28, 1919, these cars had answered nine emergency calls and treated 8,276 cases.

To assist in blotting out the so-called "social diseases" near camps and cantonments, the units operated twenty-eight dispensaries and treated over 40,000 cases.

The public health nursing phases of the sanitary work deserve special note because of the important part such work is destined to play hereafter; its extent and nature are indicated below:

Table 22: PUBLIC HEALTH NURSING WITHIN SANITARY ZONES, Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

The entire sanitary service work of the Red Cross during the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, cost a little less than $600,000.

Communication Work

Throughout the war the Bureau of Communication at national headquarters answered requests for information concerning American soldiers and sailors sent in by relations and friends from over 600,000 American homes. It had 400 searchers in France, one with every division and one at every American base hospital.

It required over 300 workers at national headquarters. More than 100,000 letters a week went through this Bureau. The entire cost of operating this Bureau and the Bureau working along similar lines for prisoners of war was, during the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, $184,324.53

Disaster Relief

Relief of sufferers in disasters has always been a function of the Red Cross. Many calls for this kind of relief were met during the war period, but it is possible to make only brief mention of the work in this report.

During the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, assistance was rendered in twenty-five major disasters, twenty in the United States and five abroad. The range included such occurrences as the Halifax and Perth Amboy explosions, the Minnesota forest fires, Tien Tsin flood, etc. A classified list is given below:


For disaster relief work, nearly $1,500,000 was set aside by national headquarters and the chapters.

Life-Saving Work

Instruction in life-saving is one of the less known but nevertheless important activities of the Red Cross in the United States. In order to reduce the large annual loss of drowning, the Red Cross employs a life-saving expert who gives lectures and demonstrations throughout the country and organizes life-saving corps among local groups such as municipal police departments and branches of the Y. M. C. A. During the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, 191,108 were instructed in life-saving practices.

Organization of Base Hospitals

An important activity of the Red Cross during the first months of the war was organizing and equipping base hospitals for service with the Army and Navy. The necessary personnel was usually recruited from the staffs of civil hospitals in the larger cities. Altogether fifty-eight base hospitals were organized, fifty for the Army and eight for the Navy; forty-seven of these were equipped by Red Cross chapters with complete outfits of beds, beddings, surgical instruments and other supplies and accessories, all of which were presented to the Government when the units were mustered in. Of the total, fifty-four served overseas, and four in this country.

In connection with this work, the Red Cross enrolled, in addition to nurses, orderlies, etc., 2,489 physicians and fifty chaplains for service with the forces of the United States.

The chapters of the Red Cross spent, in round figures, $3,000,000 in equipping such hospitals. In addition, national headquarters made a number of appropriations to meet special needs of the hospitals, including replacements of outfits and instruments lost at sea, storage and assembling charges, special instruments and equipment and contingency funds out of which special foods, etc., could be provided for invalids.

Organization of Ambulance Companies

Another and somewhat similar task undertaken for the Surgeon General of the Army involved recruiting and organizing personnel into ambulance companies. Forty-seven such companies were organized by the Red Cross, with a personnel of 4,760 men. After bringing these men together and instructing them in first-aid, the Red Cross turned them over to the Army and they were at once mustered into the service. All companies saw service overseas. In a few instances equipment was provided by the Red Cross but usually by the Army. The equipment for these companies included 564 ambulances and 141 trucks.

A directly related service consisted in the securing of contributions for, and purchasing of, several hundred ambulances which were sent overseas for use with the hospitals conducted by the Red Cross and in supplementing the Army's ambulance service. Approximately $250,000 was contributed and expended in this way.

Other Medical and Hospital Work

While the work done in organizing base hospitals and ambulance companies embraced the largest single tasks along hospital and medical lines that the Red Cross performed in the United States, the many other activities undertaken in the same general fields are illustrative of the part it played in supplementing the work of the Federal authorities.

The number of such supplementary activities is so large that it is practicable to name only certain of the more important, as follows: providing for costs of training reconstruction workers; equipment of workshop for re-educating crippled soldiers; equipping mobile operating unit; contribution to aid in providing free dental service to recruits first rejected because of dental troubles; allowance for expenses, enabling United States Army physicians to attend professional conventions; providing repairs to and supplies for hospital operated in Virgin Islands by United States Navy for natives, etc.

Mention may also be made in this connection of a contribution of $2,500,000 to the National Tuberculosis Association in support of the national anti-tuberculosis work carried on by that Association.

Red Cross Institute for Crippled and Disabled Men

This Institute assists the Government in its problems of re-educating crippled and disabled soldiers. The work of the Institute has, of course, been supplementary to that of the Government, but it has. involved such important activities as making studies concerning the accomplishments of other countries in the field of rehabilitation, industrial surveys determining trades for cripples, training teachers, training disabled men, and securing employment for cripples in various lines of industry. A large general educational work has been done to teach cripples of the possibilities through training, to interest employers, and to further public interest. About seven million pamphlets have been issued and over 300 lectures given in this connection.

Up to February 28, 1919, nearly $265,000 was appropriated for operating this Institution.

The comprehensiveness of the field covered by the 542 industrial surveys which have been made is evidenced by the fact that 1,500 factories and 100 trade associations (national or local) have been visited and the names listed of 1,000 firms, embracing fifty trades, which are willing to employ cripples. The results secured by such work have an obvious value for civilian as well as military cripples.

Red Cross Institute for the Blind

This Institute was organized at the request of the Surgeon General of the Army to cooperate with General Hospital No. 7 and the Federal Board for Vocational Education in caring for blind soldiers and sailors. Its work has included industrial surveys, evolving courses of instruction and providing recreational facilities such as entertainments and libraries of books with raised type.

Toward the close of the period covered by this report it was decided that this Institute would be responsible for the entire problem of feeding, housing and training the blind of the American Expeditionary Forces. The Red Cross thus became charged with the care of over 125 blind soldiers and sailors, whom it undertook to train in many special courses.

To February 28, 1919, $173,961.66 had been appropriated to carry on the work of the Red Cross Institute for the Blind.

Supplies Operations in the United States

The Department of Supplies at national headquarters, with branches in all divisions, was responsible for all centralized purchasing, operation of divisional and port warehouses, and transportation arrangements both within the United States and to overseas points. The size of its task is indicated by the following table:

Table 24: SUPPLIES TRANSACTIONS IN U. S., Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

The cost of conducting the entire Department including divisiona1 and port warehouses was, during the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, $5,530,346. If this amount is measured against the supply transactions shown above, it will be seen that the percentage ratio of operating expense to transactions is three and four-tenths per cent.

Transportation in the United States on relief supplies cost the Red Cross over $2,400,000, $290,000 of which was borne by the chapters, the balance by national headquarters.

Nearly $1 ,750,000 was appropriated for insuring goods shipped overseas against war and marine risk.

The value of purchased goods shipped overseas up to February 28, 1919, was over $31,000,000. If the value of chapter-produced articles were added, the amount would be increased by more than $50,000,000, so that overseas shipments exceeded eighty millions of dollars. Large purchases, aggregating millions of dollars, were also made in various parts of Europe.

Diagram 4. Purchased supplies shipped overseas for Red, Cross work, classified by kind and value. Twenty months ending February 28, 1919

Following is a table showing for all supplies, including chapter-produced articles, the tonnage shipped to the several countries involved, and above (Diagram 4) purchased supplies shipped overseas are classified by kind and value.

Table 25: TONS OF SUPPLIES SHIPPED FROM U. S. OVERSEAS FOR RED CROSS WORK, Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919


The workers in chapters are counted by the million, and practically all are volunteers. On February 28, 1919, the forces comprising national and divisional headquarters, overseas workers, etc. aggregated 14,625 people. Of these 1,921 were volunteers and 12,704 paid workers. Table 26 below shows the location of these workers, with classified salaries to the extent paid. The amounts paid a very large proportion of the "paid workers" represented what were in effect "living" or expense allowances. The noticeably small number of substantial salaries is due, of course, to the fact that practically all of the most important posts were filled by volunteers---the exceptions being specialists whose resources would not permit of their serving without remuneration.


The Administrative Organization in the United States

Behind all of the work described in the preceding pages, and supporting all overseas work outlined in the chapters which follow, there are the directing or "business" parts of the organization, comprising together what may well be termed "management forces." This group includes general and divisional management staff and financial, accounting, development, etc., bureaus. Its main tasks are to establish general policies, coordinate the work of all parts of the organization, and to attend to its business affairs.

The results of the work of this part of the organization do not lend themselves to statistical measurement. Perhaps the best measurement would be that based on a judgment of the Red Cross work as a whole, in that this is the field influenced.

The cost of operating all management or administration bureaus in national and divisional headquarters during the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, was $4,359,758.03. Following are certain comparisons based on this cost:

Of each dollar received, one and seven-tenths cents was spent for "management."

The percentage ratio of "management" to "relief" was one and eighteenths per cent.*

[*This ratio is based on detailed computations, the basis of which is set forth specifically in published financial reports.]

Chapter IV

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