Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee: Navy Nurse Corps Pioneer

TitleLenah Sutcliffe Higbee: Navy Nurse Corps Pioneer
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsDrew, Benjamin
JournalNaval History
Date Published04/2017

Though their contributions to the Navy cannot be measured in ships sunk or enemies engaged, Higbee and her nurses were as essential to victory in war as any military element. Higbee was a pioneering and devoted nurse who joined the Navy in 1908, when women generally were unwelcome, underpaid, and denied official rank. Over the next 14 years, she rose to become the superintendent of a fledgling nurse corps and directed its evolution from infancy to permanence. She also recruited, trained, and managed thousands of nurses during two of the twentieth century's worst humanitarian crises: World War I and the influenza pandemic of 1918. Higbee institutionalized the role of women nurses in military medicine; established the NNC as a professional and accepted part of the naval service; and advanced the status of women in the military, forever altering the course of U.S. military history.

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