In his own words: Philip M. Stimson, MD Assistant Resident at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, 1916-1917

This week, as we welcomed new residents to the Medical Center, we discovered a letter in the Archives and Rare Books Division that was written by a resident 101 years ago. The resident, Philip Moen Stimson, MD, went on to a distinguished career as a pediatrician renowned for his research in infectious disease. Becker Library has three editions of his magnum opus, A Manual of the common contagious diseases, in our circulating collection, and his letter is included in our Base Hospital 21 Archival Collection.

What was foremost in Philip Stimson’s mind on July 7, 1916, was his desire to join Base Hospital 21, a World War I hospital unit “being formed by the Washington University authorities.” Fred T. Murphy, in his reply below, welcomed the new Assistant Resident to St. Louis Children’s Hospital while explaining the policy which required him to say no to Philip joining the new unit, at least for 1916-1917.


Camp Moosilauke
Pike, N.H.
R.F.D. 1

July 7th, 1916

Dear Dr. Veeder –

My sister informed me that a base hospital unit is being formed by the Washington University authorities & I should like very much to be included in the list of doctors if there is still a vacancy. Last winter when the unit of the New York Hospital was being organized I was invited by Dr. Conner to be one of the seven Physicians & I accepted. Then some mistake was made in the lists & my name was left off by accident & the place filled. This fact that I was to be away from New York for a year seemed to be good reason to let matters be as they were, & accordingly I am only to be called there in case there is a vacancy – & of course if I were connected with the W. U. unit, my entire connection with the N.Y. H. unit would cease. My first papers have already been accepted at Washington for the Army Medical Reserve Corps. I expect word daily now to report to Boston for the physical examination. I expect to be here in camp until just in time to get to St. Louis by the morning of August 1st.

Hoping that it will be possible & to your liking that for me to be included in the W.U. Base Hospital, I remain.

Very truly yours
Philip Moen Stimson Res II

July 15, 1916

Dr. Philip N. Stimson
Care of Camp Moosilauke,
Pike Co., New Hampshire.

My dear Dr. Stimson:

I received this morning from Dr. Veeder your letter of July 7th. Miss Stimson had spoken to me about your desire to be enrolled in the Washington University base hospital unit.

Our situation here is rather different from that in the large eastern hospitals where the visiting staff and the house staff are sufficiently large to permit of a certain percentage of men being detailed for service outside of the hospital and still not have the service seriously handicapped. In considering the enrollment of the unit, the University very properly insisted that while they were heartily in favor of such an organization, yet it must be understood that in case the unit were called out, the work at the School and Hospitals should not be seriously interfered with. Therefore, as a general working principle, we decided not to enroll men of certain classes. One of these groups consisted of the house staffs below, at least the rank of resident. Unless, therefore, this policy is changed, it would not be consistent to enroll you as a member of the unit for the coming year at least.

It will be necessary, however, to make up certain reserve lists, and in case meetings of the unit are arranged for the purpose of the discussion of any problems or for instruction, to make these meetings available for any men who would probably later come into service. On this basis I feel sure that your interest in such a movement might be kept up.

I had the pleasure last Sunday of a word with your brother as he went through with Squadron A.  Miss Stimson reports that he reached the border and is comfortably located.

I am more than glad that you are coming out to Saint Louis on the Children’s staff, and I feel sure that you will find the position there to be a satisfactory one in every way.

Very truly yours,
[F.T. Murphy]


Washington University, St. Louis. Bulletin of Washington University, St. Louis, Twenty-eighth annual catalogue of the the Medical School. St. Louis, Mo.: Publications of Washington University, April 1917, page 35.

“Letter from Dr. Fred T. Murphy to Philip N. Stimson.” Base Hospital 21 Collection, Series 1: Correspondence, Staff, A-Z, Box 5, Folder 26. 15 July 1916.

“Letter from Philip Moen Stimson to Borden S. Veeder.” Base Hospital 21 Collection, Series 1: Correspondence, Box 5, Folder 26. Camp Moosilauke, N.H., R.F.D. 1, 7 July 1916.

Novak, Stephen, Assistant Archivist. “Finding Aid To THE PHILIP MOEN STIMSON, MD (1888-1971) PAPERS.” Weill Cornell Medicine, Samuel J. Wood Library. July 1986.   (accessed July 7, 2017).