Portraits of Nurses 1880 - 1910


M. Adelaide Nutting 1858-1948

Born in Canada and received her basic education there. She emigrated to America where she enrolled in the first class of the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing. Johns Hopkins University, located in Baltimore, Maryland, was the first higher educational institution in the United States to put Nightingales’s advice into practice She graduated 1891

At the end of the two-year program, Nutting accepted a position as Head Nurse. Proving herself to be an able nurse and efficient administrator, Nutting quickly moved up the ranks within the university’s Hospital Training School. In 1892, she was appointed to assistant superintendent of nurses. Nutting was then promoted to superintendent of nurses. Finally, she became principle of the training school. In each of these positions, Nutting developed the nursing program, creating positive and more formalized standards for nursing education at the school. She extended the training program from two to three years, persuaded the school to offer scholarships to promising students, and restructured the curriculum to include field experience as part of the process.

Nutting made significant contributions to the profession of nursing nationwide. Seeking to disseminate information about nursing practices and the nursing profession more generally, she helped found the American Journal of Nursing in 1900. Nutting also headed a number of organizations dedicated to advocating for and working with nurses at all levels and in all areas of the profession . She helped draft the first nurse practice law in Maryland. In that same year, she also became the first registered nurse in the state.


Linda Richards 1841 - 1930

Not only was she the first American nurse to graduate from a formal nursing program, she trained the first Japanese nurses and established many innovations we now take for granted, including the use of written patient charts.
1872, she enrolled in the new nurse training program established by Susan Dimock, M.D., at the New England Hospital for Women and Children and in 1873 became the program’s first graduate. Her first position after graduation, was night supervisor at Bellevue Hospital . At that time all reports were oral; Physician’s orders as well as the nurse were all verbal. Linda started to provide physicians with written reports regarding their patients status. Linda created a system for charting and maintaining individual medical records for each patient. This was the first written reporting system for nurses which later was adopted by the Nightingale System .

In 1878, Linda began work at the Boston College Hospital where she established a nurse training school. In 1886, Linda established the first nurse-training program in Japan. She began at first working through an interpreter. She stayed in Japan for 5 years before returning to America.

Linda Richards continued to establish nurse training programs and schools in Philadelphia, Massachusetts and Michigan. She retired in 1911 at age 70 when she wrote her autobiography, Reminiscences of Linda Richard. She died in 1930.

Eliza mahoney.jpg

Mary Eliza Mahoney (May 7, 1845 – January 4, 1926)

First African American to study and work as a professionally trained nurse in the United States, graduating in 1879. Mahoney was one of the first African Americans to graduate from a nursing school, and she prospered in a predominantly white society. She also challenged discrimination against African Americans in nursing.In 1908, Mahoney co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Adah B. Thoms. This organization attempted to uplift the standards and everyday lives of African-American registered nurses. The NACGN had a significant influence on eliminating racial discrimination in the registered nursing profession. In 1951, the NACGN merged with the American Nurses Association.


Sophia Palmer 1853-1920

Sophia Palmer shown here in 1900, was a leader in the development of nursing organizations and licensure for nurses. She was one of the founders of the New York State Nurses Association and the first editor of the American Journal of Nursing.; she served as editor until her death in 1920, using her home as an office, and also assumed full responsibility for the business management of the publication. Palmer promoted reforms in nursing education and wrote about vital social issues of the day. She also used the pages of the journal to advocate legislation requiring state supervision of nursing schools and the registration of trained nurses. When the New York law regulating the nursing profession was passed in 1903, Palmer was appointed a member of the Board of Nurse Examiners, and was elected its first chair. Photo Source: New York Heritage Digital Collections. Public domain.
"Palmer, Sophia French (1853–1920)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 Sep. 2018 http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Isabel Hampton Robb

Hampton Robb (1860–1910), pictured here in 1891, was the first president of the Society for Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses, which was a forerunner of the National League for Nursing. She was also the first president of the Associated Alumnae Association, which eventually became the American Nurses Association.

Source: The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives. Public domain.



Lavinia Dock (February 26, 1858 – April 17, 1956

Dock (February 26, 1858 – April 17, 1956)

Nurse, feminist, author, pioneer in nursing education and social activist. Dock was an assistant superintendent at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing under Isabel Hampton Robb. With Robb and Mary Adelaide Nutting, she helped to found the organization that would become the National League for Nursing. Dock was a contributing editor to the American Journal of Nursing and she authored several books, including (with M. Adelaide Nutting as co-author) a four-volume history of nursing and what was for many years a standard nurse's manual of drugs. She campaigned for women's rights for many years.

Anna Maxwell, the American Florence Nightingale 1851 - 1929

Colleagues called her the “American Florence Nightingale,” and in a sense she was - Anna Caroline Maxwell was dedicated to the advancement of nursing,

In 1876, Miss Maxwell entered the Training School of the Boston City Hospital, headed by Linda Richards, the first American nurse. Maxwell assumed the leadership of the Boston Training School for Nurses, affiliated with the Massachusetts General Hospital, in 1881 and in 1889 moved to St. Luke’s Hospital. In both cases her ability to teach the highest standards and develop confident and capable nurses led to the success of the schools.

After St. Luke’s, Maxwell established a program of nursing at the Presbyterian Hospital of New York City. She remained at the school for thirty years, presiding over its partnership with Teachers College, eventually Columbia University, and developed a five year program that awarded a nursing diploma and a Bachelor of Science degree. Her textbook, written with Amy Pope, Practical Nursing: a Textbook for Nurses and a Handbook for All Who Care for the Sick (1907) was a model work for years.

The Spanish-American war [1898 ] resulted in the first large all-graduate nursing service to staff military hospitals.[1]Anna Maxwell, Superintendent of Nurses at the Presbyterian Hospital of New York, [2]operating out of her hospital office,motivated some 200 graduate nurses to enlist. And took charge of the nurses sent to care for the soldiers at Camp Thomas in Chickamauga Park, Georgia. There they found that “ Fifty thousand men lived in deplorable conditions, teeming with the triple scourge of typhoid, malaria, and measles. Maxwell’s 160 nurses cared for a thousand sick men with only 67 deaths. This was at a time when more soldiers died of disease

[1], Kalish and kalish 2004, American Nursing: A History.. Chapter 7 Nurses and the War With Spain Lippincott/Williams and Wilkins..p.144

[2] Goldenberg, Gary. 1992. Nurses of a Different Stripe: A History of the Columbia University School of Nursing 1892 – 1992. Columbia University School of Nursing, . p 45