Historical Figures in Nursing

By cmsmith
  • Dorothea Dix

    Dorothea Dix
    She was an American activist on behalf of the indigent insane who, through a vigorous program of lobbying state legislatures and the United States Congress, created the first generation of American mental asylums. They opened the hospital named in her honor in 1856. In a period of 1854-1856 she made an effective change in the way Europeans dealt with the mentally ill as she had in the United States.
  • Mary Ann Bickerdyke

    Mary Ann Bickerdyke
    She was a hospital administrator for the Union soldiers during the American Civil War. During the war, she became chief of nursing under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant and served at the Battle of Vicksburg.
  • Linda Richards

    Linda Richards
    She was the first professionally trained American nurse. She established nursing training programs in the United States and Japan, and created the first system for keeping individual medical records for hospitalized patients. When she returned to Boston in 1874, she was named superintendent of the Boston Training School.
  • Clara Barton

    Clara Barton
    She was a pioneer American teacher, nurse, and humanitarian. She has been described as having a "strong and independent spirit" and is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross. Barton became President of the American branch of the society, which was founded on May 21, 1881 in Dansville, N.Y.
  • Lavinia Dock

    Lavinia Dock
    After serving as a visiting nurse among the poor, she compiled the first, and long most important, manual of drugs for nurses, Materia Medica for Nurses in 1890.
  • Lillian Wald

    Lillian Wald
    Lillian D. Wald was a practical idealist who worked to create a more just society. Her goal was to ensure that women and children, immigrants and the poor, and members of all ethnic and religious groups would realize America’s promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” She was the founder of the Henry Street Settlement.
  • Isabel Hampton Robb

    Isabel Hampton Robb
    She was one of the founders of modern American nursing and one of the most important leaders in the history of nursing. In 1896, she became the first President of the nurses' Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada, which would later become the American Nurses Association.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney

    Mary Eliza Mahoney
    She was the first black to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States, graduating in 1879. In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thorns.
  • Margaret Sanger

    Margaret Sanger
    She was an American birth control activist. In 1914, Sanger launched The Woman Rebel, an eight page monthly newsletter promoting contraception, with the slogan "No Gods and No Masters" (and coining the term "birth control") and that each woman be "the absolute mistress of her own body.
  • Annie Goodrich

    Annie Goodrich
    In 1918, she took a leave of absence from the Henry Street Settlement, at the request of the surgeon general of the army, to become chief inspecting nurse of the United States Army's hospitals. Goodrich would be the originator of the plan for the Army School of Nursing. It was started in 1918 as a war measure, with Annie Goodrich as dean.
  • Mary Adelaide Nutting

    Mary Adelaide Nutting
    Honored for her outstanding contributions to nursing and nursing education, Mary Adelaide Nutting was a noted educator, historian, and scholar. She was named honorary president of the Florence Nightingale International Foundation in 1934.
  • Ida V. Moffett

    Ida V. Moffett
    In 1946, Gov. Chauncey Sparks appointed Moffett to the Alabama State of Board of Nurses' Examiners and Registration, and she was elected chair at her first meeting. She next helped gain state accreditation for Alabama's first four-year collegiate nursing program, which was located at Tuskegee University.
  • Hildegard Peplau

    Hildegard Peplau
    During WWII, she was a member of the Army Nurse Corps and worked in a neuropsychiatric hospital in London, England. She worked progressively in the mental health field and ultimately created a conceptual framework for the interpersonal relationship between nurses and their patients. She was a nursing theorist whose seminal work, Interpersonal Relations in Nursing, was published in 1952.
  • Martha Rogers

    Martha Rogers
    Rogers was appointed Head of the Division of Nursing at New York University in 1954. In about 1963 Martha edited a journal called Nursing Science. It was during that time that Rogers was beginning to formulate ideas about the publication of her third book An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing.
  • Virginia Henderson

    Virginia Henderson
    Virginia Henderson defined nursing as "assisting individuals to gain independence in relation to the performance of activities contributing to health or its recovery" in 1966. The International Council of Nurses presented her with the first Christianne Reimann Prize in June 1985.
  • Madeleine Leininger

    Madeleine Leininger
    Madeleine Leininger’s main contribution to nursing, among many, is her Culture Care Diversity and Universality Theory. She was a pioneer nurse anthropologist. Appointed dean of the University of Washington, School of Nursing in 1969, she remained in that position until 1974.
  • Dorothea Orem

    Dorothea Orem
    She was a nursing theorist and founder of the Orem model of nursing. In the simplest terms, this theory states that nurses have to supply care when the patients cannot provide care to themselves. She published the first formal articulation of her idea in Nursing: Concepts of Practice in 1971.
  • Mary Breckinridge

    Mary Breckinridge
    Mary Breckinridge introduced a model rural health care system into the United States in 1925. She was inducted into the ANA Hall of Fame in 1982.
  • Lillian Holland Harvey

    Lillian Holland Harvey
    Dr. Lillian Harvey was Dean of the Tuskegee (Institute) University School of Nursing for almost three decades. Under her leadership and untiring efforts, the School of Nursing at Tuskegee became the first to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in the state of Alabama. On March 14, 1992, the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees approved the Tuskegee University National Association’s recommendation to rename the Nurses Home in her honor.
  • Jean Watson

    Jean Watson
    Watson is well known for her Theory of Human/Transpersonal Caring. At the University of Colorado, Dr. Watson holds the title of Distinguished Professor of Nursing; the highest honor accorded its faculty for scholarly work. In 1999 she assumed the Murchinson-Scoville Chair in Caring Science, the nation’s first endowed chair in Caring Science, based at the University of Colorado Denver & Health Sciences Center.