The Museum was divided into the Pathology Department and Instruction Laboratory in 1910, beginning its transformation from a storehouse to a consultation, research, and education facility. An extensive effort to document the medical consequences of combat was conducted during World War I and prompted a decision to split the institution’s collection into two groupings: Series A, consisting of all specimens received before the U.S. declaration of war against Germany on April 2, 1917, and Series B, all specimens accessioned from that date on (Stone, 2011).
The 1920 U.S. surgeon general’s report made a strong statement in favor of general access to the nascent repository’s materials (U.S. Surgeon General, 1920, p. 247):
The Army Medical Museum is a very valuable connecting link between the Medical Department of the United States Army and the general medical profession of the United States, from the standpoint of scientific medicine and surgery. It has been the policy of the museum during the past year to encourage the use of its collections by civilian physicians and it is believed that only in this way will the museum fulfill its larger function of being not only a place for the exhibition of pathological and other material, but a great instruction center in pathology and epidemiology.
With that endorsement, the museum created the first of the registries in the repository in cooperation with the Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology. Registries provided a means by which medical societies representing various specialties could donate materials, thereby strengthening and diversifying the museum’s collection while preserving valuable specimens for the medical community and creating links between civilian researchers and museum staff (Stone, 2011). Several other registries were established in the following years, including those for lymphatic tumors (1925), bladder tumors (1927), dental and oral pathology (1933), and dermatology (1937). Diagnosis and consultation services also expanded, particularly after a 1929 circular from the U.S. Army surgeon general called attention to this work (Henry, 1964).
The introduction of the registries and the continued accession of thousands of pathologic specimens per month led to the museum’s being renamed the Army Institute of Pathology in 1946 (Stone, 2011). Series A accessions were assigned to the museum, and Series B became known as the Central Repository (Henry, 1964).
World War II brought another influx of specimens to the repository and with them a new mandate to serve all the U.S. armed forces and the Veterans Administration (VA, now the Department of Veterans Affairs) as their central pathology laboratory (Stone, 2011). In recognition of that enlargement of mission, the institute was renamed the Armed Forces Institute