Famous American Nurses

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Find out more about the greatest American Nurses, including Margaret Sanger, Clara Barton, Debbie Rowe, Kate Gosselin and Yetunde Price.
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 1 
Naomi Judd
(American Actress and Singer Best Remembered as One-Half of the Country Music Duo 'The Judds')
Naomi Judd
6
Birthdate: January 11, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ashland

Naomi Judd was an American actress and singer. She is best remembered as one-half of the country music duo, The Judds, which won nine Country Music Association awards and five Grammy Awards between 1980 and 1991. Naomi Judd stopped performing in 1991 due to health reasons. In 2022, she was made an inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

 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.

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 4 
Rachel Robinson
(Widow of Professional Baseball Player Jackie Robinson)
Rachel Robinson
3
Birthdate: July 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles

Rachel Robinson is an American retired professor and registered nurse. She is best known as the widow of the popular baseball player, Jackie Robinson. She is credited with founding the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides leadership and educational opportunities for minority students. Rachel Robinson has been portrayed in a couple of films.

 5 
Yetunde Price
(Personal Assistant and Oldest Half-sister of Serena and Venus Williams)
Yetunde Price
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1972
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, United States
Died: September 14, 2003

Yetunde Price was the personal assistant and oldest half-sister of famous American tennis players, Serena and Venus Williams. She also worked as a nurse before being killed in a shooting on September 14, 2003, near a drug house in Compton, California. It was later confirmed that Yetunde Price was an innocent, ill-fated victim.

 

 6 
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.

 7 
Kristen Gilbert
(American Serial Killer and Former Nurse)
Kristen Gilbert
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fall River, Massachusetts, United States

Kristen Gilbert is an American serial killer who worked as a nurse. She was convicted of two attempted murders and four murders of patients admitted to the Northampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Massachusetts. Nicknamed The Angel of Death, Kristen Gilbert was found guilty of inducing cardiac arrest in patients at the hospital.

 8 
Agnes von Kurowsky
(American Nurse and Ernest Hemingway's Lover)
Agnes von Kurowsky
3
Birthdate: January 5, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: September 25, 1984

Agnes von Kurowsky was an American nurse who served during the First World War in an American National Red Cross hospital in Milan. She is credited with inspiring Ernest Hemingway's character Catherine Barkley in his 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms. Agnes von Kurowsky and Ernest Hemingway's love story was portrayed in the 1996 movie In Love and War.

 9 
Elizabeth Freeman
(The First Enslaved African American Person to Win a Freedom Suit in Massachusetts)
Elizabeth Freeman
3
Birthdate: 1742 AD
Birthplace: Claverack
Died: December 28, 1829

Elizabeth Freeman was an African American midwife and herbalist. She is best remembered as the first enslaved African American person to win a freedom suit in Massachusetts. After gaining her freedom, Elizabeth Freeman became widely known for her skills as a midwife, nurse, and healer.

 10 
Bonnie Nettles
(Co-Founder of the 'Heaven's Gate' New Religious Movement)
Bonnie Nettles
0
Birthdate: August 29, 1927
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Died: June 19, 1985

Bonnie Nettles was an American registered nurse best remembered for co-founding the Heaven's Gate new religious movement alongside  Marshall Applewhite. Nettles died of cancer in 1985, 12 years before the religious group's mass suicide in 1997. Bonnie Nettles was one of the two main leaders of the group.

 11 
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.

 12 
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.  

 13 
Hildegard Peplau
(American Nurse and the First Published Nursing Theorist Since Florence Nightingale)
Hildegard Peplau
2
Birthdate: September 1, 1909
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Reading
Died: March 17, 1999

Hildegard Peplau was an American nurse best remembered for creating the middle-range nursing theory, which helped revolutionize the scholarly work in the field of nursing. She was the first nurse to publish her nursing theory since Florence Nightingale. Hildegard Peplau's work paved the way for humane treatment of people with personality and behavior disorders.

 14 
Sahra Noor
(Somali-American Health Care Executive and Nurse)
Sahra Noor
0
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Somalia

Sahra Noor is a Somali-American health care executive and nurse. She is best known for her service as the CEO at the People's Center Health Services which is located in Minneapolis. Sahra Noor is also known as the sister of the popular politician, Ilhan Omar.

 15 
Bessie Lillian Carter
(Mother of the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter)
Bessie Lillian Carter
3
Birthdate: August 15, 1898
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Richland, Georgia, United States
Died: October 30, 1983

Bessie Lillian Carter was an American nurse best remembered as the mother of Jimmy Carter, who served as the 39th president of the USA. She is also remembered for her immense contributions to nursing in Georgia. Lillian Gordy Carter also served in India as a Peace Corps volunteer.

 16 
Dorothea Orem
(Nursing Theorist and Creator of the 'Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory')
Dorothea Orem
2
Birthdate: July 15, 1914
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: June 22, 2007

Dorothea Orem was an American nursing theorist. She is best remembered for creating the self-care deficit nursing theory, which is also called the Orem's Model of Nursing. Developed between 1959 and 2001, the theory is often used in primary care and rehabilitation settings, where the patient is taught to be independent.

 17 
Madeleine Leininger
(Nursing Theorist and Developer of the Concept of Transcultural Nursing)
Madeleine Leininger
2
Birthdate: July 13, 1925
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sutton, Nebraska, United States
Died: August 10, 2012

Madeleine Leininger was an American nursing professor and nursing theorist. She is credited with developing the concept of transcultural nursing. Madeleine Leininger's contributions to nursing theory were honored by the American Academy of Nursing with a Living Legend award in 1998.

 18 
Mamie Johnson
(American Baseball Player and the First Female Pitcher to Take Part in the 'Negro leagues')
Mamie Johnson
0
Birthdate: September 27, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ridgeway, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 18, 2017

Mamie Johnson was an American baseball player and the first female pitcher to take part in the Negro leagues. She was also one of the three women to play in the Negro leagues. Mamie Johnson's life and career have inspired a couple of books, namely A Strong Right Arm and Mamie on the Mound.

 19 
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.

 20 
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.

 21 
Ruby Bradley
(US Army Nurse Corps Officer and PoW in Japan During the Second World War)
Ruby Bradley
0
Birthdate: December 19, 1907
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Spencer, West Virginia, United States
Died: May 28, 2002

Ruby Bradley was a US Army Nurse Corps officer and one of the most celebrated women in the history of US military. She was a prisoner of war in Japan during the Second World War, for which she was honored with the Prisoner of War Medal. Ruby Bradley was also awarded many other medals, including the American Campaign Medal.

 22 
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.

 23 
Maura Clarke
(American Missionary Who Served in El Salvador and Nicaragua from 1950s to 1980)
Maura Clarke
1
Birthdate: January 13, 1931
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Queens, New York, United States
Died: December 2, 1980

Maura Clarke was an American religious sister best remembered for her service as a missionary in El Salvador and Nicaragua. She worked with the refugees and poor in Central America from the late-1950s until her murder in 1980. Maura Clarke and three other missionaries were raped and murdered by members of the Armed Forces of El Salvador in December 1980.

 24 
Ellen Church
(The First Female Flight Attendant)
Ellen Church
0
Birthdate: September 22, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cresco, Iowa, United States
Died: August 22, 1965

Ellen Church was an American nurse and flight attendant. She wanted to establish herself as a commercial pilot. Since airlines were not hiring women pilots at that time, Church convinced Boeing Air Transport that having nurses as flight-stewardesses would help bring in more passengers. Subsequently, in 1930, Ellen Church became the first female flight attendant.

 25 
Florence Wald
(American Nurse Who Founded America's First Hospice Program)
Florence Wald
1
Birthdate: April 19, 1917
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: November 8, 2008

Florence Wald was an American nurse best remembered for her service as the Dean of Yale School of Nursing. She is also remembered for founding Connecticut Hospice, America's first hospice program. In 1998, Florence Wald was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 26 
Aleda E. Lutz
(American Flight Nurse Who Became the First American Woman to Die in Combat During the Second World War)
Aleda E. Lutz
0
Birthdate: November 9, 1915
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Freeland, Michigan, United States
Died: November 1, 1944

Aleda E. Lutz was an American flight nurse who served in the United States Army during the Second World War. Lutz was the first woman from America to die in combat during the Second World War. One of the most decorated women in the U.S. military history, Aleda E. Lutz was honored with numerous prestigious awards and honors, including the Purple Heart.

 27 
Annie Fox
(American Army Officer and the First Woman to be Honored With the 'Purple Heart')
Annie Fox
0
Birthdate: August 4, 1893
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Scotia,Canada
Died: January 20, 1987

Annie Fox was an American army officer best remembered for her service as the chief nurse in the United States Army Nurse Corps. She became the first woman to be honored with the Purple Heart as she was stationed at Hickam Field during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

 28 
Reba Z. Whittle
(American Nurse Who Served in the 'US Army Nurse Corps' During the Second World War)
Reba Z. Whittle
0
Birthdate: August 19, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rocksprings, Texas, United States
Died: January 26, 1981

Reba Z. Whittle was an American nurse who served in the US Army Nurse Corps during the Second World War. In 1944, she was part of the European Theater when her aircraft was shot down. She was injured during the crash and was honored with the Purple Heart in 1945. Reba Z. Whittle was also honored with the Air Medal.

 29 
Bertha Holt
(American Activist Who Established the 'Holt International Children's Services')
Bertha Holt
1
Birthdate: February 5, 1904
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa, United States
Died: 2000 AD

Bertha Holt was an American activist best remembered for establishing the Holt International Children's Services, a humanitarian organization and adoption agency. In 2002, Bertha Holt was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 30 
Margaret Murdock
(The First Woman to Win a Medal in Shooting at the Summer Olympics)
Margaret Murdock
1
Birthdate: August 25, 1942
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Topeka, Kansas, United States

Margaret Murdock is an American nurse and retired United States Army officer. She is best known for her participation in international shooting competitions. She competed at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, where she won a silver medal for her country. Margaret Murdock has been made an inductee of five halls of fame, including the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

 31 
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.

 32 
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. 

 33 
Elsie Ott
(The First Woman to Receive the United States Air Medal)
Elsie Ott
0
Birthdate: 1913 AD
Birthplace: Smithtown, New York, United States
Died: 2006 AD

Elsie Ott was an American nurse and a member of the Army Nurse Corps. Ott received the prestigious United States Air Medal for finding a way to shift the wounded soldiers to safety from the front line; she was the first woman to receive the medal.

 34 
Josephine Heffernan
(Irish-American Nurse Best Remembered for Her Service During World War I)
Josephine Heffernan
1
Birthdate: March 11, 1876
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: 1962 AD

Josephine Heffernan was an Irish-American nurse best remembered for her service during World War I. In 1913, she joined the US Army Nurse Corps. Four years later, Josephine Heffernan was appointed chief nurse at a facility at Fort McDowell in California. After the war, Heffernan continued to work as a nurse in places like the US, the Philippines, and China.

 35 
Louise McManus
(American Nurse Who Established Schools of Nursing in College in the United States)
Louise McManus
1
Birthdate: 1896 AD
Birthplace: United States
Died: May 29, 1993

Louise McManus was an American nurse best remembered for establishing schools of nursing in college in the United States. She is credited with creating the Institute for Nursing Research, which is part of Teachers College, Columbia University. In 1994, Louise McManus was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 36 
Mabel Keaton Staupers
(Pioneer in the American Nursing Profession Who Fought for Racial Equality in the Field of Nursing)
Mabel Keaton Staupers
0
Birthdate: February 27, 1890
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Barbados Island, Barbados
Died: November 29, 1989

Mabel Keaton Staupers was a Caribbean-American nurse best remembered as a pioneer in the field of nursing in the USA. Staupers fought for racial equality in the field of nursing and supported the inclusion of black nurses into the US Navy and Army during the Second World War.

 37 
Cordelia E. Cook
(The First Woman in the US Army to Receive Both the 'Purple Heart' and the 'Bronze Star Medal')
Cordelia E. Cook
0
Birthdate: March 17, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fort Thomas, Kentucky, United States
Died: June 19, 1996

Cordelia E. Cook was an American combat nurse who served in the US Army Nurse Corps during the Second World War. Cook was the first woman in the history of the US Army to receive both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal. After the war, Cordelia E. Cook worked as a nurse at Doctors Hospital North in Ohio.

 38 
Sherri Rasmussen
(American Nurse Who Was Killed by a Police Officer)
Sherri Rasmussen
1
Birthdate: February 7, 1957
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: United States
Died: February 24, 1986

Sherri Rasmussen was an American woman who was associated with Glendale Adventist Medical Center, where she was serving as the director of nursing. Rasmussen was murdered in 1986 and the police failed to identify a suspect at that time. In 2009, A DNA sample collected from the crime scene revealed the killer to be Stephanie Lazarus, a police officer herself.

 39 
Florence A. Blanchfield
(Served as the Superintendent of the US Army Nursing Corps Between 1943 and 1947)
Florence A. Blanchfield
0
Birthdate: April 1, 1884
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shepherdstown, West Virginia, United States
Died: May 12, 1971

Florence A. Blanchfield was a US Army Colonel who served as the superintendent of the US Army Nursing Corps between 1943 and 1947. In 1945, Blanchfield received the Distinguished Service Medal. In 1951, Florence A. Blanchfield was honored by the International Red Cross with the Florence Nightingale Medal. Kentucky's Florence A. Blanchfield Army Community Hospital is named in her honor. 

 40 
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. 

 41 
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. 

 42 
Sue S. Dauser
(Superintendent of the 'US Navy Nurse Corps' During the Second World War)
Sue S. Dauser
0
Birthdate: September 20, 1888
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Anaheim, California, United States
Died: March 11, 1972

Sue S. Dauser was an American nurse best remembered for her service as the superintendent of the US Navy Nurse Corps. She is credited with guiding the Nurse Corps through the Second World War. For her contributions as superintendent, Sue S. Dauser was honored with the prestigious Navy Distinguished Service Medal.

 43 
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.

 44 
Erin Angle
(Wife of Actor Jonathan Edward Bernthal)
Erin Angle
0
Birthdate: February 14, 1976
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
 45 
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.