Oral history interview with Edward M. Foster 2006. (Archival material, 2006) [WorldCat.org]
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Oral history interview with Edward M. Foster 2006.

Author: Edward M Foster; John K Driscoll; Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
Edition/Format:   Archival material : Cassette recording : English
Summary:
Edward "Mike" Foster, a Madison, Wisconsin resident, describes his experiences in the Sanitary Corps in the Army during World War II.
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Genre/Form: History
Personal narratives
Personal narratives, American
Named Person: Edward M Foster; Ira L Baldwin; Edwin Broun Fred; William Frazier; Ira L Baldwin; Edwin Broun Fred
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Archival Material, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Edward M Foster; John K Driscoll; Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
OCLC Number: 506340703
Event notes: Interviewed by John K. Driscoll on August 15, 2006 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Description: sound recording : 1 audiocassette (approximately 40 min.) : analog, 1 7/8 ips Master sound recording : 1 audiocassette (approximately 40 min.) : analog, 1 7/8 ips Transcript : 16 pages

Abstract:

Edward "Mike" Foster, a Madison, Wisconsin resident, describes his experiences in the Sanitary Corps in the Army during World War II.

First, Foster describes at length his family history and upbringing in Texas. He was born in Alba (Texas) and grew up on a farm in Raines County. He mentions attending a two-room schoolhouse until high school when he moved in with a sister in another town before eventually graduating from a school in Emery (Texas) as valedictorian. Foster touches upon the effects of the Depression on his family: the farm put his parents in debt, and as a boy he recalls dreaming of a better life. Foster relates he studied biology at North Texas State Teachers College. He tells how, as a teaching assistant in bacteriology, he met his future wife, a home economics major. In 1938, after getting his Masters, Foster went to the University of Wisconsin to get his Ph. D. in bacteriology. He mentions he briefly taught at the University of Texas in Austin before the U.S. joined World War II. In 1941, in part to avoid the draft, Foster explains he enlisted in the Army Sanitary Corps. As a second lieutenant in the Sanitary Corps, his duties included inspecting barracks and mess halls to prevent epidemics. Foster comments he occasionally examined soldiers when the Medical Corps was understaffed. Foster spent a year at Fort Dix (New Jersey) before he was transferred to Camp Dietrich (Maryland). At Camp Dietrich, Foster reveals he worked in an anthrax lab, growing cultures of botulinum and anthrax for the Army. Foster claims that these toxins were originally created to send to the British Army. He describes the equipment and ramshackle nature of the lab, which was built inside an airplane hangar. Also, Foster lists other members of his team including: Captain John Schwab, the leader of the team who got his Ph. D. at Ohio State, Lieutenant Bill Durcell, another University of Wisconsin bacteriology graduate, and Alwin Cuppenheimer, a civilian researcher from Harvard. Foster characterizes the anthrax research as "a Wisconsin plan" and mentions that his former professor, Fred Baldwin, "was in charge of the whole program" and "had something to do with getting me where I was in the Army." Near the end of the war, Foster states he was transferred to a plant in Terre Haute (Indiana) where he continued to work on producing anthrax and other aerobes. He expresses relief that the war ended before his anthrax research was complete, and he criticizes biological warfare in general. After the war, Foster reports the government sold the plant in Terre Haute to a pharmaceutical company that later made antibiotics with the same equipment he'd used to grow anthrax. Foster reveals he continued to work at Terre Haute for a short time before he became a professor of Agricultural Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin, a job he kept for forty-two years. Foster discusses some of his professional projects funded by the Pillsbury Corporation. He also mentions working with influential bacteriologists at UW, including: Bill Frazier, Fred Baldwin, and E.B. Fred, who later became President of the University. Foster expresses ambivalence about his time in the Army, stating he felt sorry that the war happened, and that he'd rather be doing something else, but ultimately doing his part was necessary to stop Hitler

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