Saturday, May 28, 2016

Seattle Girls War Relief Bazaar

Museum of History and Industry
"Biggest thing that ever happened to Seattle"1

That bold claim was published in response to the success of the Seattle Girls War Relief Bazaar, organized to raise the necessary funds to outfit Base Hospital 50.

The telegram Dr. Eagleson received in late October 1917 authorizing Base Hospital 50 also included the news Seattle was not only responsible for organizing the unit, but funding it. The equipment was to be "up to date in every respect.""Society maids and self-supporting office workers and clerks" worked together to plan the bazaar which was the brainchild of Seattle shipping magnate Frank Waterhouse.3

Held the week before Christmas, the Seattle Girls' War Work Association, chaired by Miss Gladys Waterhouse and Miss Katherine Kittinger, organized the bazaar. Volunteers solicited goods and services from Seattle leaders and businesses — everything from cigars to Ford cars — to sell at the bazaar. More than 12,500 volunteers  from University of Washington sorority sisters, to Dames of the Daughters of the American Revolution  worked together to arrange all the details for the event which would attract over 10,000 Seattleites a day.

Library of Congress
The bazaar was designed and constructed by venerable Seattle architect Carl F. Gould and described as "cleverly conceived and well executed." Miss Irene Ewing was credited with arranging decorations deserving of "particular attention."The bazaar was held at the Seattle Arena and Hippodrome. Neither are still standing.

A jewelry drive was also held and "debutantes and working girls united in the bonds of Sammies Sisterhood" donated their gold and silver to be sold to help fund the war effort.5 The Moran Brothers, local shipbuilders, made a major donation of $16,000, and Waterhouse donated $10,000.

Come Thru, an original composition by Bertha Sophie Tremper, was adopted as the official song of the bazaar. Printed by Seattle's Craig Music Press, copies sold at the bazaar for fifteen cents. "Every miser helps the Kaiser" was a catchy refrain taken from the song billed as great for fairs and bazaars for its melodious rhythm.6  Miss Anita Miller won first prize in a contest for the best poster to advertise the Bazaar.7

When all the proceeds had been tallied, the bazaar had raised over $110,000 dollars. Fifty thousand dollars was turned over to the Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross to equip Base Hospital 50 and the remainder was designated to support dependents of soldiers and sailors from King and Kitsap counties.

  1. News-letters to boys in France. Pacific Builder and Engineer. January 25, 1918. Vol. 24, pg. 13.
  2. University Base Hospital. Northwest Medicine. December 1917. Vol. 16(12):381.
  3. Seattle Working Girls Plan Meeting War Relief Bazaar. The Eugene Guard. September 29, 1917, pg. 2.
  4. News-letters to boys in France. Pacific Builder and Engineer. January 25, 1918. Vol. 24, pg. 13.
  5. Seattle Girls Give Up Jewels, The Spokesman-Review. November 23, 1917, pg. 15.
  6. "Come Thru". Music and Musicians: Devoted Principally to the Interests of the Northwest. Vol. 3(12), 1918, pg. 10.
  7. Poster Helps to Win Big Fund for Red Cross. The Poster. 1918. Vol. 9, pg 52.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


The United States entered the Great War -- now known as World War I -- on April 6, 1917. Physicians and hospitals around the country had already been organizing in anticipation President Woodrow Wilson would not be able to holdout against entering the war much longer after his election to a second term in November of 1916.

The American Red Cross, whose relief efforts would become almost synonymous with the war, was just a nascent organization in 1917. Formed in 1881, by 1914 the Red Cross had just 107 local chapters. That number leapt to 3,864 by 1918. Membership grew from 17,000 to over 20 million adults and 11 million junior members in that time.

In the early years of the war the Red Cross worked to raise capital, recruit new personnel, nurses, and medical professionals, and gather medical supplies and other necessary treatments, with limited success since few American lives were at stake. America's entry into the war changed everything and plans already under consideration were quickly called into action.

The Seattle Star, 29 Oct 1917, pg. 2.
The creation of base hospitals to serve overseas as part of the US Army was a large scale endeavor. Hospitals and universities around the country applied for authorization to form a unit. Dr. James Beaty Eagleson, of Seattle, was one of the many physicians who responded to the call and together with the support of the local Red Cross chapter and University of Washington (UW) President Henry Suzzallo, applied for authorization to form a hospital for the purpose of serving overseas.

In some respects the UW was an unlikely candidate. The university did not even have a medical school or nursing program and Seattle was far-removed from major centers of cutting edge medicine and teaching. The response from the Red Cross was formation was dependent on the Seattle's ability to raise $50,000 to outfit the hospital. The city was very successful in their fund-raising efforts and on October 25, 1917, Dr. Eagleson -- already a Major in the Medical Reserve Corps -- received a telegram confirming his appointment as "director of Red Cross Base Hospital No. 50, University of Washington".

In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into the war and the centennial of war's end, November 11, 2017, this blog will tell the story of the hospital, its personnel and their experiences from its earliest days to the unit's return in 1919 in the midst the Spanish Flu pandemic. Please join us as we follow in the footsteps of Dr. Eagleson and the men and women who serviced in Base Hospital 50.