The camp was named for Alexander William Doniphan, a hero of the Mexican-American War from the Missouri Volunteers of Northwestern Missouri.
It was from this camp that thousands of soldiers, from Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, were given basic training prior to being sent to Camp Mills, Mineola, Long Island, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; or Camp Merritt, Dumont, New Jersey, for disembarkation to France. The camp contained 1,267 buildings, the majority of which were tents, over a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) area.
The camp became part of the United States Army Field Artillery School, and included the 128th Field Artillery Regiment and 129th Field Artillery Regiment of Missouri, 130th Field Artillery Regiment of Kansas, and the 158th Field Artillery Regiment of Oklahoma.
Harry S. Truman was stationed at Camp Doniphan from September 1917 until March 1918, and he was assigned to run the regimental canteen. It was here that he made Edward Jacobson his partner.