Isabel Hampton Robb

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Isabel Adams Hampton Robb (1860–1910) was an American nurse theorist, author, nursing school administrator and early leader. Robb was the head of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, wrote several influential textbooks, and helped to found the organizations that became known as the National League for Nursing, the International Council of Nurses and the American Nurses Association.


Robb graduated from the Bellevue Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1883. After graduation, she worked briefly as a nurse in New York, then went to Rome, working for a hospital that served American and European travelers. She returned to the United States as Superintendent of Nursing at the Cook County Hospital Nursing School in Chicago.[1]

Impact on nursing education[edit]

During her time in Chicago, she implemented reforms which are largely still followed today.[2] One of her most notable contributions to the system of nursing education was the implementation of a grading policy for nursing students. Students would need to prove their competency in order to receive qualifications. Before Robb's reforms, nursing had been largely taken up by lower-class women who were unable to hold other jobs.

In 1889, she was appointed head of the new Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where she continued to suggest reforms, participated in teaching, and published. She wrote Nursing: Its Principles and Practice. A review of the second edition of the textbook appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association and said that the textbook "stands without a competitor."[3]

In 1893, Robb, with the assistance of Lavinia Dock, founded the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses of the United States and Canada, a precursor to the current National League for Nursing.

After five years at Johns Hopkins she married Dr. Hunter Robb and followed him to his new position as professor of gynecology at Case Western Reserve University. Isabel and her husband would have two children, in 1895 and 1902 respectively.[1] She was a key figure in the development for curriculum for the Lakeside Hospital Training School for Nurses, the nucleus for Case Western's future School of Nursing. Lakeside's program became one of the first schools to implement the teachings of Florence Nightingale. Robb also authored Nursing Ethics in 1900 and Educational Standards for Nurses in 1907.[4] In a 1901 review of Nursing Ethics, the Baltimore American said, "This text-book differs from any other on the market at the present time, in that it deals simply with the principles and practice of nursing, and omits the usual smattering of teaching on a great variety of subjects. The author particularly insists that for thorough training in nursing it is necessary that each nurse should be supplied with various additional books, each dealing with a single subject, such as anatomy, physiology, materia medica, massage, bandaging and invalid cookery, which are quite distinct from, although supplementary to, the principles of nursing.[5]

Nursing leadership[edit]

In addition to serving as president of the organization that would become the National League for Nursing, Robb was among the group that established the American Journal of Nursing. She was also a founding member of the International Council of Nurses[6] as well as the first president of the Nurses' Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada. The latter organization would later become the American Nurses Association. She also helped to create a graduate hospital economics course at Columbia University Teachers College.[1]


Robb died on April 15, 1910 following an accident involving a streetcar.[1]

Awards and honors[edit]

1976: Inductee, American Nurses Association Hall of Fame[2]


  • Hampton, Isabel Adams (1894). Nursing: Its Principles and Practice for Hospital and Private Use. W.B. Saunders. 
  • Robb, Isabel Hampton (1900). Nursing Ethics. Cleveland: E.C. Koeckert. 
  • Robb, Isabel Hampton (1907). Educational Standards for Nurses. Cleveland: E.C. Koeckert. 


  1. ^ a b c d "The Isabel Hampton Robb Collection: Biography". The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives. The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Retrieved June 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Isabel Adams Hampton Robb (1860-1910): 1976 Hall of Fame Inductee, retrieved June 29, 2012 
  3. ^ "Book Notices". Journal of the American Medical Association. February 18, 1899. doi:10.1001/jama.1899.02450340050018. Retrieved June 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ The Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing: Shaping Nursing Knowledge and Practice, retrieved June 29, 2012 
  5. ^ "Nursing Ethics". Baltimore American. May 13, 1901. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ Bullough, Vern (July 19, 2002), NurseWeek: Isabel Adams Hampton Robb, retrieved June 29, 2012