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…the Olympic-class ocean liner Titanic collided with an iceberg on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic. Over 1,600 passengers members would die in the sinking.
…On the homefront, Woodrow Wilson, the Princeton President-turned New Jersey governor was elected President in a three-way race with William Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.
…In Washington, D.C. 3,000 Yoschino cherry trees—a gift of the mayor of Tokyo to the United States, are planted in the tidal basin near the future site of the Jefferson Memorial. Each year the cherry blossom would serve as one of the U.S. capital’s most popular tourist attractions.
…The year saw the first formulation of vitamins, the establishment of the Girl Scouts of America, and the introduction of the National Biscuit Company’s newest cookie, the Oreo.
…In Sports, the Summer Olympics held in Stockholm featured America’s first multi-sport superstar Jim Thorpe winning gold in the Pentathlon.
…In literature the year was highlighted by the first appearances of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan and Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu.
In 1912, the Navy Medical Department remained a small peacetime organization consisting of 1,228 hospital corpsmen, 110 nurses, 302 physicians and two dentists. The Navy operated in hospitals stateside and abroad in Annapolis, Md., Brooklyn, N.Y., Cañacao, P.I., Chelsea, Mass., Great Lakes, Ill., Guam, Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Las Animas, Colo., Mare Island, Calif., Narragansett Bay, R.I., Norfolk, Va., Olongapo, P.I., Philadelphia, Pa., Port Royal, S.C., Portsmouth, N.H., Puget Sound, Wash., Tutuila (America Samoa), Washington, D.C. and Yokohama (Japan). Naval Hospital Pensacola was placed on inactive status. Hospitals in San Juan, P.R., and Sitka, Alaska, were disestablished. USS Solace was the only hospital ship still in commission.
In 1912, there were more deaths by drowning (asphyxia ex submersione) than any other cause (57). Tuberculosis was the second most common cause of death (32). Unusual causes of death reported to the Bureau of Medicine in 1912 included: inhalation of chloroform (self- administered for relief of a headache), and one death by lightning (occurring at the Marine Corps Rifle Range in Winthrop, MD on June 2, 1912)
The case of alcoholism in the Navy a 30-year low (241 cases). The rate of alcoholism from 1902 to 1912 (3.89 percent) had dropped from each of the previous ten-year periods (7.93 percent from 1892 to 1902; 24.71 percent from 1882-1892).
Gonorrhea (5,403), Tonsillitis (2,501), and Chancroid (2,169) were the most prevalent diseases and ailments in 1912. Navy and Marine Corps personnel suffered from 8,996 cases of venereal diseases (Gonorrhea, Chancroid, Syphilis) in 1912.
The Navy Dental Corps was established by law until August 22, 1912 but did not see its first appointment until two months afterwards. On the 23rd and 24th October 1912, respectively, Drs. Emory Bryant and William N. Cogan were appointed as temporary Navy dentists or “Acting Assistant Dental Surgeons.” By 1912, both were already well-established dentists in Washington, DC. Bryant (1866-1935), boasted presidents and congressmen among his patients. Cogan (1856-1943) was the dean of Georgetown Dental School. Ostensibly, Bryant and Cogan were appointed to help select candidates for the first officers in the Dental Corps. Cogan and Bryant were ordered to “active duty” on the 30th and 31st of October 1912. Naval Registers list both as serving in the “Medical Reserve Corps” in 1912 and afterward 1913 as officers in the “Dental Reserve Corps.”
When senior civilian dentist Emory Bryant, DDS, was appointed “Acting Assistant Dental Surgeon” in the Navy on October 23, 1912, his mission was nothing more than to oversee the formation of the military service’s newest staff corps. The Act of Congress establishing the Dental Corps (on 22 August 1912) held that all Navy dentists appointed must be “trained in several branches of dentistry, of good moral character, of unquestionable professional ability” and “shall pass a satisfactory physical and professional examination.” Per instruction of Navy Surgeon General Charles Stokes, Dr. Bryant was charged with the development of the examination structure and protocol and creation of the Dental Corps Examination Board.
Following a serious earthquake in Turkey, Navy medical officers and corpsmen from USS Scorpion visited many of the afflicted villages relieving some of the injuries and starvation.
Following the Battle of Azua (first major battle in the Dominican War of Independence), Navy medical officers and hospital corpsmen established a field hospital where many of the wounded were dressed and necessary operations performed.
On August 22, 1912 the Naval Act established a Medical Reserve Corps. Under this act, candidates are examined for entry into the Reserve Corps; after completing the course of instruction at the naval medical school they are further examined and if found qualified are commissioned into the Medical Corps. Also, in 1912, the Navy sent one of its physician to instruct medical officers of the Naval Militia on naval customs and methods so that they may be in “closer touch” with the Naval Establishment.
Navy Surgeon Frank Pleadwell cautioned shipmates about the spread of germs on “speaking tubes and telephone receivers” aboard ships. You did not want to use a telephone receiver just used by someone suffering tuberculosis, diphtheria, mumps, syphilis, an ordinary cold or some moth-borne illness. In 1912, Pleadwell proposed that the Navy mouthpieces of public telephones and speaking tubes should be constructed to allow for regular cleansing and be lined with some sort of enamel finish.