Notable Persons in Nursing

  • Dorothea Dix

    Dorothea Dix
    In 1841, after becoming aware of the horrible conditions in which mentally ill individuals were being treated in the jail system, she started a crusade to institute better treatment and care of the mentally ill and to get them removed from the general population and into institutions.
  • Mary Ann Bickerdyke

    Mary Ann Bickerdyke
    In 1861, not long after the US Civil War began, her minister received a letter which detailed the poor medical care the Union soldiers were receiving and included it in a sermon. Ms. Bickerdyke wanted to improve the situation and organized a drive to gather medical supplies. She left her children with friends to drive the supplies to a base in Cairo, Illinois. She was so upset by the medical care at the base that she stayed and organized a group of women to care for the soldiers.
  • Linda Richards

    Linda Richards
    In 1870, she learned of a nurse-training program offered at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. After only one year of training, she became the first student to enroll in the program, and became the first to graduate. Her diploma is in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. After she graduated, she took the position of night supervisor at Bellevue Hospital and created a system for charting and maintaining individual medical records for patients.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney

    Mary Eliza Mahoney
    In 1878, when she was 33 years old, she became a student at New England Hospital for Women and Children’s nursing program. She graduated 16 months later and then worked as a private duty nurse for 30 years. In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). In 1936, an award was created by the NACGN in her honor to be awarded to women that contributed to racial integration in nursing.
  • Clara Barton

    Clara Barton
    Ms. Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. She founded an organization that supplied goods to soldiers after becoming aware of the need for medical supplies among the troops.
  • Isabel Hampton Robb

    Isabel Hampton Robb
    In 1883, she graduated from Bellevue Hospital Training School. She then traveled to Rome with some classmates to work at St. Paul's House. When she returned to the United States, she became superintendent of nurses at Cook County Hospital's training school.
  • Annie Goodrich

    Annie Goodrich
    Ms. Goodrich became the superintendent of nurses at New York Postgraduate Hospital. In 1918, she was appointed chief inspecting nurse for the U.S. Army hospitals.
  • Lavinia Dock

    Lavinia Dock
    In 1893, along with Mary Adelaide Nutting and Isabel Hampton Robb, created the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses of the United States and Canada. After she retired, she became a member of the National Woman's Party. In 1917, she was jailed for picketing at the White House to bring attention to woman suffrage.
  • Lillian Wald

    Lillian Wald
    In 1893, she founded a visiting nurse service which later became the Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service. She approached insurance companies to see if they would provide free visiting public health nurses through their policies. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company was the first adopt this in 1903.
  • Mary Adelaide Nutting

    Mary Adelaide Nutting
    In 1895, she went before the Johns Hopkins’ trustees with a detailed analysis of current student nurse employment, approval to implement a new three-year curriculum, the need to abolish stipends, and the need for scholarships to help students in need of financial support. In 1900, she was a co-founder of the American Journal of Nursing. In 1907, she became the world's first professor of nursing at the Teachers College at Columbia University.
  • Margaret Sanger

    Margaret Sanger
    In 1912, she quit her nursing career and became an advocate for birth control. She concentrated her efforts on the distribution of birth control. In 1914, she founded the National Brith Control League. In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic in the United States.
  • Virginia Henderson

    Virginia Henderson
    In 1921, she graduated from the Army School of Nursing in Washington, D.C. Her definition of nursing became famous as it showed that nursing and medicine were different. She pointed out that nursing does not solely consist of physician's orders. She felt that nurses were to assist the patient in accomplishing things that the patient would otherwise do on their own if able. She believed helping them gain their independence was very important. She published several writings as well.
  • Mary Breckinridge

    Mary Breckinridge
    Nursing provided comfort and strength to her after the death of her children. She joined the American Committee for Devastated France following WW I where she became familiar with the nurse-midwives and believed she could help mothers and babies in rural America with their training. She returned to England to study midwifery at the age of 43. In 1925, she founded the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS) which provided healthcare to impoverished individuals in the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Ida V. Moffett

    Ida V. Moffett
    On June 3, 1926, Ms. Moffett became Registered Nurse number 1830 in the State of Alabama. She presided over more than 4,000 graduations and licensing of nurses.
  • Hildegard Peplau

    Hildegard Peplau
    During World War II, she was a part of the Army Nurse Corps and employed by the neuropsychiatric hospital in London, England. She was the only nurse to serve the ANA first as the executive director and second as the president. She was known as the "mother of psychiatric nursing."
  • Lillian Holland Harvey

    Lillian Holland Harvey
    In 1945, she was appointed the Director of the nursing program at School of Nursing at Tuskegee . In 1948, she was responsible for the first baccalaureate program in the state of Alabama. In 2001, she was inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame for her achievements making her one of the first to be given this honor.
  • Martha Rogers

    Martha Rogers
    In 1954, she was appointed Head of the Division of Nursing at New York University. She edited the Nursing Science journal in 1963. She retired as Professor and Head of the Division of Nursing in 1975. In 1979, she became Professor Emeritus and until her death had an active role in the development of nursing and the SUHB. Through her creation of the Science of Unitary Human Beings (SUHB) theory, nursing was recognized as one of the scientific disciplines.
  • Dorothea Orem

    Dorothea Orem
    In 1958, she was a consultant to the Office of Education. During this time, she began working on her self-care theory. In 1959, she published “Guides for Developing Curricula for the Education of Practical Nurses.” In 1976, she received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Georgetown University.
  • Madeleine Leininger

    Madeleine Leininger
    In 1969, she was appointed Dean of the University of Washington, School of Nursing. Prior to her appointment, she became aware of the need for nurses to be aware of and understand the patient’s culture and background to be able to provide care. In 1974, she created transcultural nursing and is responsible for the Journal of Transcultural Nursing which supports the Transcultural Nursing Society.
  • Jean Watson

    Jean Watson
    In 1999, Dr. Watson was appointed the Murchinson-Scoville Chair in Caring Science which was the nation's first endowed chair in Caring Science. She is the author of many books which focus on caring.