Technology and Specialization

Adapting medical technologies to war work demanded special expertise and training. Scientists and engineers developed x-ray equipment and techniques suitable for war conditions. Working with the U.S. Army Medical Department, they established standardized training for medical personnel. New x-ray technology enabled surgeons to locate and remove shrapnel from the body.

In 1917 Philadelphia engineer and artist H. L. Saÿen designed this x-ray ambulance for field service. Although his proposal was not used, the U.S. Army developed similar vehicles.
Gift of Ann Saÿen

X-ray tube & shield, around 1918
In 1913 American engineer William D. Coolidge introduced a more reliable and rugged x-ray tube that was adopted by the military for the war. The thick glass shield helped protect staff from x-ray exposure.
Gifts of Staten Island Historical Society and University of Maryland Department of Radiology

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ID card for Maurice Cornelius Wentz, 1918
Label: Maurice Cornelius Wentz was one of more than seven hundred men trained in x-ray techniques by the U.S. Army. “Roentgenologist,” after x-ray discoverer Wilhelm Röntgen, was the original term for an x-ray specialist.
Gift of Ann Webster

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Hirtz compass localizing device, around 1916
Label: French military radiologist Eugène Hirtz designed this device to locate and guide the surgical removal of shrapnel based on calculations made from x-ray images.

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When set in place for surgery, the compass’s pointer indicated the location of the shrapnel, 1921
From La radiologie et la guerre by Marie Curie

General Electric Coolidge Tube

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