Seizing a rare opportunity to enhance the AMEDD Museum’s artifact collection, the AMEDD Museum Foundation recently completed the purchase of the William Emerson medical insignia collection. The collection consisting of 274 items ranging from uniform and cap insignia to 19th century medical chevrons to a medical officer’s shoulder epaulettes from the early 1900’s was purchased for $13,430.
William Emerson is a noted authority on US Army insignia. While he has published and presented numerous works on the subject, his books Chevrons: Illustrated History and Catalog of U.S. Army Insignia and the Encyclopedia of United States Army Insignia and Uniforms are considered the final word in the identification and description of insignia.
The collection is significant since it has unique as well as rare insignia and patches that will assist the museum in preserving and presenting AMEDD history. The items range from approximately the 1880s to the 1960s. While there are caduceus insignia in the current collection, there are no unit affiliations fused to the insignia as is in the Emerson collection. Similarly, there are numerous variations for Medical Corps, Veterinary Corps, Dental Corps, and Army Nurse Corps caducei from World War I, the inter-war period, World War II, and the Korean War that are not in the current collection. Items that are rare, such as a Hospital Steward’s chevrons from the 19th Century or a contract dental surgeon insignia (1900-1911) will also be welcome additions to the museum’s collection.
The museum staff plans to preserve, exhibit, and interpret the insignia when appropriate and make them available for historical research and photography.