The 10 most influential female nurses of all time

3. Clara Barton


Clara Barton grew up wanting to take care of people. When her father fell ill, Clara helped to care for him until his death. This inspired her to take an interest in nursing. During the Civil War, Barton organized medical supplies to be brought to the battlefields. Soon enough, she was allowed to go to the battles herself in order to care for wounded soldiers. In 1864, Barton became the “Lady in Charge” of Union hospitals, and the following year President Lincoln charged Barton with finding missing Union soldiers. In 1873, Barton began the American Red Cross, dedicated to helping disaster victims. She served as the organization’s first president.

4. Mary Eliza Mahoney


Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American woman to become a nurse in the United States. Mahoney worked at the New England Hospital for Women and Children for 15 years before she was admitted into the adjacent nursing school. Mahoney dedicated her life to nursing, heading up the Howard Orphan Asylum for African American children in New York. In 1908, Mahoney co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, which eventually became part of the ANA. Each year, the ANA honors Mahoney with an award that represents her dedication to nursing and ending racial segregation. She has been inducted into both the ANA and National Women’s Hall of Fame.

5. Anna Caroline Maxwell


Anna Caroline Maxwell was known as the “American Florence Nightingale.” During the Spanish-American War, Maxwell headed up the army nurses, thereby establishing the Army Nurse Corps. During WWI, Maxwell was given the Medal of Honor for Public Health. Maxwell was an essential element to the progression of practical nursing. After graduating the Boston City Training College for Nurses, Maxwell began the nurse training program at Montreal General Hospital. She also served as the superintendent of nurses at a number of east coast hospitals including Massachusetts General Hospital and St. Luke’s Hosptial. Maxwell was the first director of the New York Presbyterian Hospital, which would become the Columbia School of Nursing.

6. Dorothea Lynde Dix

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4 Responses to The 10 most influential female nurses of all time

  1. sharon parsons

    what an inspiring website! I have been a nurse for 34 years Now I work as an educator for iCU nurses in Bloomington, Indiana. Nice to see the varied reponses and information posted here.

  2. Matt Polani

    Why top FEMALE nurses???
    Females are MAJORITY in nursing!!
    What about the unsung minority: male nurses???
    We had equal duties, hours, pay; but often are called on to help with or take on overweight, unstable, innapropriate acting patients, or just plain extra physical work: moving furniture/ supplies.

    • Nailil

      Well, you should forward this to Nurse Mendoza, he always advocates for the male species in the nursing field.

  3. Nailil

    Whaooo, these ladies left a legend that we should all honour.