Famous 19th Century Nurses

Right IconThis ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Nurses, including Florence Nightingale, Margaret Sanger, Vera Brittain, Clara Barton and Edith Cavell.
Vote for Your Favourite 19th Century Nurses
 1 
Florence Nightingale
(Social Reformer & Founder of Modern Nursing and Known as 'The Lady with the Lamp')
Florence Nightingale
4
Birthdate: May 12, 1820
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: August 13, 1910
The Lady with the Lamp Florence Nightingale is remembered for her relentless efforts in nursing soldiers during the Crimean War. She founded London’s St Thomas' Hospital to train nurses. She also pioneered the use of the polar area diagram and was the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society.
 2 
Clara Barton
(American Nurse Who Founded the American Red Cross)
Clara Barton
6
Birthdate: December 25, 1821
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: North Oxford, Oxford, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 12, 1912

Clara Barton was an American nurse best remembered for founding the American Red Cross. She is renowned for her civil rights advocacy and humanitarian work. She also played an important role in the Civil War, serving as a hospital nurse, a patent clerk, and a teacher. In 1973, Barton was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 3 
Margaret Sanger
(Birth Control Activist Who Opened the First Birth Control Clinic in the United States)
Margaret Sanger
10
Birthdate: September 14, 1879
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Corning, New York, United States
Died: September 6, 1966

Margaret Sanger was an American writer and sex educator. She is credited with popularizing the term birth control. A birth control activist, Sanger established the first birth control clinic in America. She also set up organizations that later became the well-known non-profit organization Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She also played a key role in legalizing contraception in the US.

Recommended Lists:
 4 
Mary Seacole
(Heroine of the Crimean War)
Mary Seacole
4
Birthdate: November 23, 1805
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
Died: May 14, 1881

Mary Seacole was a British-Jamaican nurse, businesswoman, and healer. She played a major role during the Crimean War, providing aid for wounded servicemen and nursing them back to health. In 1991, Seacole was posthumously honored with the Jamaican Order of Merit. In 2004, she was named the greatest black Briton for her contribution during the war.

 5 
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia
(Eldest Child of Emperor Nicholas II, and of Empress Alexandra of Russia)
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia
6
Birthdate: November 15, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 17, 1918
 6 
Violet Jessop
4
Birthdate: October 2, 1887
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bahía Blanca, Argentina
Died: May 5, 1971
 7 
Marie of Romania
(Wife of Ferdinand I of Romania and Former Queen Consort of Romania (1914 - 1927))
Marie of Romania
5
Birthdate: October 29, 1875
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eastwell Park, Kent, England
Died: July 10, 1938

Marie of Romania was a descendant of Queen Victoria and born as the Princess of Edinburgh, before she married King Ferdinand I and became the last queen of Romania. A visual artist and a patron of the Art Nouveau movement, she was also a skilled equestrian and driver.

 8 
Elizabeth Kenny
(Nurse & Health Administrator)
Elizabeth Kenny
5
Birthdate: September 20, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Warialda, New South Wales
Died: November 30, 1952

Elizabeth Kenny was an Australian bush nurse. A self-trained nurse, Kenny pioneered a new and then-controversial method to treat the victims of poliomyelitis. Her method, which she advocated enthusiastically, became the foundation of physiotherapy. Her life and career inspired the 1946 American biographical film Sister Kenny, in which she was played by Rosalind Russell.

 9 
Ethel Roosevelt Derby
(American Nurse and Youngest Daughter of Theodore Roosevelt)
Ethel Roosevelt Derby
3
Birthdate: August 13, 1891
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oyster Bay (hamlet), New York
Died: December 10, 1977

Ethel Roosevelt Derby was an American nurse best remembered as the youngest daughter of Theodore Roosevelt. Ethel played an important role in preserving the legacy of her family home and the legacy of her father for future generations. Ethel Roosevelt Derby also played a prominent role during the First World War, serving as a nurse in France.

 10 
Mary Eliza Mahoney
(First African-American to Work as a Trained Nurse in the USA)
Mary Eliza Mahoney
2
Birthdate: April 16, 1845
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: January 4, 1926

Mary Eliza Mahoney was an African-American nurse. In 1879, she became the first African American to successfully complete her course from an American school of nursing. She helped eliminate racial discrimination in the nursing profession. Mahoney was made an inductee of the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame and the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1976 and 1993 respectively.

 11 
Lillian Wald
(American Nurse and the Founder of American Nursing Community)
Lillian Wald
4
Birthdate: March 10, 1867
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died: September 1, 1940

Lillian Wald was an American nurse, author, and humanitarian. She is credited with establishing the Henry Street Settlement, a not-for-profit social service agency in New York City. After founding the agency, Lillian Wald became an activist and fought for the rights of minorities and women. She also supported racial integration and campaigned for suffrage.  

 12 
Aurora Quezon
(Former First Lady of the Philippines)
Aurora Quezon
4
Birthdate: February 19, 1888
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Baler
Died: April 28, 1949

Aurora Quezon was a Filipino political figure best remembered for her role as the First Lady of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. Quezon is also remembered for her humanitarian activities; from 1947 to 1949, she served as the chairperson of the Philippine Red Cross. In the 2018 biographical drama film Quezon's Game, Aurora Quezon was played by Rachel Alejandro.

 13 
Constance Kent
(English Woman Who Murdered Her Three-Year-Old Half-Brother)
Constance Kent
5
Birthdate: February 5, 1844
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: idmouth, Devon, England, United Kingdom
Died: April 10, 1944

Constance Kent was an English woman who murdered her half-brother, Francis Saville Kent. She was only 16 years old when she killed her three-year-old half-brother. The murder inspired several works of art, including films and novels.

 14 
Mary Kingsley
(British Ethnographer, Scientific Writer and Explorer Known for Her Travels and Writings on West Africa)
Mary Kingsley
4
Birthdate: October 13, 1862
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Islington, London, England
Died: June 3, 1900

English ethnographer and traveler Mary Kingsley was the daughter of renowned physician and traveler George Kingsley and the niece of Charles Kingsley. Unlike girls of her era, she was well-educated and later ventured on an exploratory trip to West Africa, becoming the first European to enter remote areas such as Gabon.

 15 
Mary Breckinridge
(American Nurse Midwife and Founder of the 'Frontier Nursing Service')
Mary Breckinridge
3
Birthdate: February 17, 1881
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died: May 16, 1965

Mary Breckinridge was an American nurse midwife best remembered for founding the Frontier Nursing Service, which educates nurse-midwives and provides healthcare services to the rural population. In 1995, Mary Breckinridge was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 16 
Marie Marvingt
(French Athlete Who Was the First Female Fighter Pilot and Held Countless Sports Records)
Marie Marvingt
1
Birthdate: February 20, 1875
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Aurillac, in Cantal, France
Died: December 14, 1963

Refused entry in the Tour de France because she was a woman, French athlete Marie Marvingt finished the course by herself. An aviator and mountaineer, too, she later made many sporting records. She was the first female fighter pilot. She had also been a journalist, a medical officer, and a ski school instructor.

 17 
Mary Ann Bickerdyke
(Hospital Administrator for Union Soldiers During the American Civil War)
Mary Ann Bickerdyke
1
Birthdate: July 19, 1817
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Knox County, Ohio, United States
Died: November 8, 1901

Mary Ann Bickerdyke was an American medical worker who played an important role during the American Civil War, serving as a hospital administrator for Union soldiers. She is also credited with setting up 300 field hospitals during the war. A lifelong advocate for veterans, Mary Bickerdyke also served as a lawyer and assisted veterans to obtain pensions after the war.

Princess Marie-Louise of Madagascar
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1897
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint-Denis, Réunion Overseas Department of France
Died: January 18, 1948
 19 
Clara Maass
(American Nurse Who Served in the United States Army During the Spanish-American War)
Clara Maass
1
Birthdate: June 28, 1876
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Jersey, United States
Died: August 24, 1901

Clara Maass was an American nurse who volunteered as a contract nurse and served in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War. She served again in the Eighth U.S. Army Corps from 1899 to 1900. After her second assignment with the army, Clara Maass volunteered for experiments to study yellow fever. She died of the disease at age 25.

Elizabeth Hesselblad
1
Birthdate: June 4, 1870
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fåglavik, Sweden
Died: April 24, 1957
 21 
Nellie Cashman
(Restaurateur)
Nellie Cashman
1
Birthdate: May 25, 1845
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Midleton, County Cork, Ireland
Died: January 4, 1925

Following the Irish Potato Famine, Irish-born Nellie Cashman and her family moved to the US. She launched a boarding house with her mother in Nevada and soon opened several restaurants. She led a rescue team to trapped gold miners in Cassiar and later became a gold prospector herself.

 22 
Charles Atangana
(Political leader)
Charles Atangana
1
Birthdate: 1880 AD
Birthplace: Mvolyé, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Died: September 1, 1943
 23 
Elsa Brandstrom
1
Birthdate: March 26, 1888
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 4, 1948
 24 
Sophie Mannerheim
(Nurse known as pioneer of modern nursing in Finland)
Sophie Mannerheim
0
Birthdate: December 21, 1863
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Helsinki, Finland
Died: January 9, 1928
 25 
Mary Adelaide Nutting
(Canadian Educator, Nurse, and a Pioneer in the Field of Nursing)
Mary Adelaide Nutting
1
Birthdate: November 1, 1858
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Quebec, Canada
Died: October 3, 1948

Mary Adelaide Nutting was a Canadian educator, nurse, and a pioneer in the field of nursing. She is best remembered for her association with the Johns Hopkins University, where she helped found a modern nursing program. Mary Adelaide Nutting was also part of an experimental program at the Teachers College in Columbia University.

 26 
Jane Delano
(American Nurse Who Founded the 'American Red Cross Nursing Service')
Jane Delano
0
Birthdate: March 12, 1862
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Montour Falls, New York, United States
Died: April 15, 1919

Jane Delano was an American nurse best remembered for founding the American Red Cross Nursing Service. She is also remembered for her service as the president of an organization named the American Nurses Association. Jane Delano is a member of the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame. 

 27 
Julia Dempsey
(American Nurse, Hospital Administrator, and Religious Sister)
Julia Dempsey
0
Birthdate: May 14, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Salamanca, New York, United States
Died: March 29, 1939

Julia Dempsey was an American nurse, hospital administrator, and religious sister. She worked as an assistant to Dr. William J. Mayo, who called her the best among all his assistants. Julia Dempsey is also credited with establishing Saint Mary’s Hospital Training School for Nurses. 

Manuela de la Santa Cruz y Espejo
1
Birthdate: December 20, 1753
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Quito, Viceroyalty of New Granada
Died: 1829 AD
 29 
Mărgărita Miller-Verghy
(Nurse, Linguist, Writer, Literary historian, Literary critic, Essayist, Children's writer)
Mărgărita Miller-Verghy
0
Birthdate: January 1, 1865
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Iași
Died: December 31, 1953
 30 
Mary J. Safford
(One of the First Female Gynecologists in the US and the First Woman to Perform an Ovariotomy)
Mary J. Safford
0
Birthdate: December 31, 1834
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hyde Park, Vermont, United States
Died: December 8, 1891

Mary J. Safford was an American nurse, educator, physician, and humanitarian. She served alongside Mary Ann Bickerdyke during the American Civil War, treating the injured and sick near Fort Donelson. She also served in Cairo, Illinois, earning her the nickname Cairo Angel. Mary Safford later became a gynecologist and was the first woman in the US to perform an ovariotomy. 

 31 
Jane Currie Blaikie Hoge
(American Nurse, Fund Raiser, and Welfare Worker During the 'American Civil War')
Jane Currie Blaikie Hoge
4
Birthdate: July 31, 1811
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: August 26, 1890

Jane Currie Blaikie Hoge was an American nurse, fund raiser, and welfare worker during the American Civil War. Before the war, she established a homeless shelter in Chicago. During the war, Hoge helped recruit nurses for the Union army. After the war, Jane Currie Blaikie Hoge raised funds to help rebuild her nation.

 32 
Lucy Minnigerode
(American Nurse Who Founded the 'US Public Health Service Nursing Corps')
Lucy Minnigerode
0
Birthdate: February 8, 1871
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: near Leesburg, Virginia, United States
Died: March 24, 1935

Lucy Minnigerode was an American nurse best remembered for her service during the First World War. She is credited with founding the US Public Health Service Nursing Corps. In 1925, the International Committee of the Red Cross honored her with the Florence Nightingale Medal, making Lucy Minnigerode the eighth American recipient of the prestigious medal.