Harry Stoll Mustard Papers, 1941-1966
| Manuscripts Gifts 2009 | Front Page 2009 | Previous Issues | Friends of the Library |
A gift to SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2009
This addition of two hundred thirty-three manuscripts (1941-1948 and 1966), to the papers of Harry Stoll Mustard, Jr. (1913 - 1963), augments a collection of eighty-eight items received by the library in 2002. While the earlier acquisition documents the experiences of Mustard in the Pacific theater during World War II through letters he wrote to his parents, Harry Stoll (1889 - 1966) and Sarah Hopkins Haile Mustard, the newly acquired collection of papers consists primarily of letters written by his parents who were living in New York City.
| Manuscripts Gifts 2009 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
During his sonís service as a medical corpsman in the United States Naval Reserve, the elder Harry Stoll Mustard worked as director of the School of Public Health of Columbia University. By the 1940s he was established as one of the nationís foremost authorities on public health, particularly in rural areas. According to outside sources, Mustard began his career with the United States Public Health Service in 1916 and worked in various posts in West Virginia and Tennessee before joining the faculty at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School in 1932. He remained at Johns Hopkins until 1937, when he became the Herman Biggs Professor of Preventative Medicine at the New York University College of Medicine. Three years later Mustard was employed by Columbia University, where he remained until 1955.
The first letters from the elder Dr. Mustard, written in 1941 and 1942 to his son while the latter attended medical school at Duke University, offer advice about completing school and record his attempts to secure for the younger man an internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Nothing came of these efforts, and upon his graduation from medical school in 1943, Harry Stoll Mustard, Jr., took an internship at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
After completing his work at Union Memorial, he enlisted with the United States Naval Reserve, his commission being dated 22 September 1943, and reported to Camp Lejeune, outside of Jacksonville, North Carolina, on 10 January 1944. "Buck," as the younger Mustard was known to his family and friends, was eventually transferred to California and left San Diego in April 1944 bound for overseas duty in the American campaign against Japan.
Lieutenant Mustard would see combat as a medic attached to the Twenty-first Marines during the Allied invasions of Guam (21 July - 8 August 1944) and Iwo Jima (19 February - 26 March 1945). Both parents followed news accounts of military activities closely and would write regularly expressing relief that he remained unharmed, conveying their gratitude for the work he and other Marines were undertaking, and encouraging him to continue to the best of his abilities.
A letter written on 20 March 1945 by Harry Mustard, following the receipt of one from his son dated 7 March that described combat on Iwo Jima, exemplifies these sentiments - "We could read between the lines and know that you had been taking it on the chin and that you were terribly exhausted... There is... another consolation, though it is mixed with anxiety: It is that we have raised a Man. By God, son, we are proud of your courage and ability to stand up against the continuing danger of sudden disaster, and the harassment of fatigue... Take the best care of yourself that you decently can, old fellow. There are a lot of people back at home pulling for you, and two of the hardest pullers are Mother and Dad."
By the end of the month, successful Allied operations in Europe led many to hope for an end to hostilities, and the elder Dr. Mustard expressed these desires in a letter dated 25 March 1945. He declared that "by summer... it will be practicable to divert some assistance to the Pacific," and hoped the situation would develop "so that not all the spearheading has to be done by the Marines." Following the victory in Europe, the United States did formulate plans for transferring troops to the Pacific. However, according to a letter written to "Buck" by his father on 17 June 1945, there was some question about the capacity in which those with high ranks would serve. On that date he noted that "Army Headquarters doesnít know just what to do with the European generals, as it seems that MacArthur doesnít want anything except retiring and modest men on his staff... Reports are that Patton canít be sent to the Pacific as his Ďcolorfulnessí and MacArthurís would clash. Generals, apparently, have in them some of the Prima donna character-istics of opera singers!"
Most of these transfers became unnecessary after the Japanese surrender following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic weapons on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively. The elder Dr. Mustard wrote on 8 August and speculated that "if that atomic bomb is really available in numbers, Japan cannot hope to last much longer... Various guesses... are two weeks to three months. Maybe, by the time you get this, great events may have come to pass!" Eleven days later, on 19 August, Lieutenant Mustardís father described the celebration in New York City following the Japanese surrender - "There are still a few reminders of the recent victory celebration....One of these, amusing to me, is the paper that these people shower down from the tall buildings - usually, only the office buildings. This time the apartment dwellers seemed to have wanted to do that too and lacking ticker-tape etc., they resorted to toilet paper! Evidently held one end and threw the roll out the window. The result is that trees, aerials, poles etc., are festooned with the stuff - some even on the trees in Central Park!"
Discussion of their respective medical duties figured throughout the wartime correspondence of this pair of doctors. In a letter of 18 February 1944 the elder Dr. Mustard speculated that his son would doubtless see more surgery "of an emergency sort, than you had ever expected to run into," but also thought he would be "concerned with some strange tropical diseases." To aid in the treatment of the latter, he offered to send his son "a Manson-Bahr handbook (on tropical diseases)." Harry Mustard closed this letter by describing portions of his work that could impact his sonís service in the South Pacific. He had begun leading a six- week program aimed at training naval medical officers to "go to occupied Pacific territory as medical advisors to the Admirals etc., who will govern the islands captured." On 1 October 1944 he informed him that the Navy wanted Columbia University "to take 17 more officers in late Oct... headed for the Pacific after we give them eight weeks of Tropical Disease and Public Health... I shouldnít be surprised if your chief sanitary officer on Guam is one who was formerly here." Numerous letters written by Lieutenant Mustard gave his father first-hand accounts of his experiences battling dengue fever, fungal diseases, and mosquito breeding in the South Pacific and the older doctor, in turn, incorporated this information into his teaching.
Along with comments about teaching, the elder Dr. Mustard also provided descriptions of numerous meetings and conferences he attended in a medical capacity. A letter dated 1 April 1945 described a recent meeting of the scientific directors of the Rockefeller Foundation which attempted to address problems of graduate level medical education in the United States after the war - "15,000 to 20,000 physicians, now in the armed forces, will want refresher courses... and... there will be a heavy demand from foreign sources." In a letter written on 18 July 1945, following a lunch with the "Surgeon General of the Australian Army," Mustard anticipated that Australia was one of the "foreign sources" which would send doctors to the United States for graduate studies following the cessation of hostilities. Writing on 31 May 1945 he described a recent lecture given to Columbia University faculty and students by Sir Alexander Fleming, "who originally Ďdiscoveredí penicillin... he found the stuff, determined that it had definite bacteriolytic and bacteriostatic properties... but was never able to carry it to sufficient concentration and purification for therapeutic use in human beings."
While "Buckís" fatherís letters often contained medical advice and inquired about military training and service, his motherís kept him abreast of family news and their activities in New York City. On 20 February 1944 she informed him that they had been invited to "Times Hall... to hear... three authors of first books talk Betty Smith, Eliz. Janeway & Somebody Else. Havenít read any of their books." Betty Smithís first book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, was published in 1943, the same year in which Elizabeth Janeway published The Walsh Girls. The third author present at the talk was journalist John Hersey, who had finished A Bell for Adano earlier in 1944 but would become famous for his 31 August 1946 article "Hiroshima" which appeared in The New Yorker. Sarah Mustard also contributed to humanitarian efforts, including making dresses for the "Polish children at Red X," as described in her letter of 8 March 1945.
Other home front topics included comments by both parents on rationing and politics. On 6 May, after expressing his hope that "roasts of lamb, veal & pork will soon reappear on the table" since "restrictions... had been lifted, except for the finer cuts of beef," the elder Dr. Mustard noted that his wife had been able to get a quart of "Three Feathers," which he was sure his son would "despise as a Ďblend.í" He went on to defend his choice of spirits by declaring that "Brother, likker buyers, today, cannot be choosers. You take what you can get - which is mostly high priced rum and sugar cane gin."
On 3 September his father reported that "Johnson, Governor of S.C., defeated Cotton Ed Smith in the August primary... sort of like swapping the devil for the witch." By 22 October the presidential election dominated political news and the elder Harry Mustard told his son in a letter of that date that his attitude "is about that of the N.Y. Times - Iím going to vote for Mr. Roosevelt, but God, how I hate to do it." His mother, who seemed to be more of an admirer of Roosevelt, summed up the results of the 1944 presidential election in a letter written on 7 November - "I am really relieved that Dewey & his cohorts arenít going to try out their initial abilities in the midst of a total war." Despite political disagreements with Roosevelt, Harry Mustard expressed his shock and admiration of the president following his death on 12 April 1945. Writing on the day after Rooseveltís death, he told his son, "It came like a bolt from the blue, and people just couldnít take it at first. I think he will go down in history as one of the very great presidents. Some of the things he did made me apprehensive and... I questioned their wisdom... he did so many great things that his margin of accomplishments was far and away more substantial than any except perhaps Washington and Jefferson." The tone of Sarah Mustardís letter of the same date was more sorrowful - "We were great admirers of his, & somehow felt a personal affection for him - Beyond all this the country needs him so much."
Also included in the collection is scattered correspondence from Harry Mustard, Jr.ís, relatives in South Carolina. One such letter, postmarked April 1945, from his great-aunt Mary B. Haile in Boykin (Kershaw County, S.C.), comments on race relations in the state - "We are not having so much trouble with the negroes in S.C... they are hard to get to work as they have more money than... ever... before. The negro teachers are sueing for equal pay with the whites & demand of S.C. a college to train their race so they can get the high grade certificates... They had some trouble down at Horatio [Sumter County, S.C.] where a negro boy killed an old white woman... for 50Ę or such... I think the Gov. has since appointed 2 additional rural police for Sumter Co."
Lieutenant Mustard left Guam on 23 October 1945 bound for San Francisco. By 17 November he had reached his family in Camden, and his father wrote on that day, beginning his letter with "Welcome Home, Buck," to inform his son that he and Sarah would be in South Carolina by the 26th of the month. Following this letter there is no extant correspondence until 15 September 1946, when his father addressed him at the Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee.
The majority of the postwar correspondence is written by Harry Mustard, Sr., and gives his advice regarding "Buckís" attempts to finish his education and establish a medical practice. Harry Stoll Mustard, Jr., moved from Nashville to the Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, in 1947, and from there to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in January 1948, before finally settling in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, where he died in 1963.