|Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee|
May 18, 1874|
Chatham, Dominion of Canada
|Died||January 10, 1941
Winter Park, Florida, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1908–1922|
|Commands held||Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps (1911-1922)|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (May 18, 1874 – January 10, 1941), was a pioneering Canadian-born United States Navy chief nurse, who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I, best known for being the first female recipient of the Navy Cross.
Early life and education
Higbee was born Lenah H. Sutcliffe in Chatham, Canada, on 18 May 1874. She completed nurses' training at the New York Postgraduate Hospital in 1899 and entered private practice soon thereafter. Lenah Higbee took postgraduate training at Fordham Hospital, New York in 1908 and in October 1908, she joined the newly established U.S. Navy Nurse Corps as one of its first twenty members. These nurses, who came to be called "The Sacred Twenty", were the first women to formally serve as members of the Navy. She was promoted to Chief Nurse in 1909. Lenah Higbee became chief nurse at Norfolk Naval Hospital in April 1909.
In January 1911, Mrs. Higbee (she was the widow of Lieutenant Colonel John Henley Higbee, USMC) became the second Superintendent of the Nurse Corps. For her achievements in leading the Corps through the First World War, Chief Nurse Higbee was awarded the Navy Cross, the first (and only) living woman to receive that medal. She resigned from the position of Superintendent and retired from the Navy on 23 November 1922.
Date of Action: 1918
The Navy Cross is awarded to Lenah Sutcliff Higbee, Superintendent, Navy Nurse Corps, United States Navy, for distinguished service in the line of her profession and unusual and conspicuous devotion to duty as superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps.
Later life and death
The USS Higbee (DD-806), commissioned in 1945, was named in Higbee's honor, and the first U.S. Navy combat warship to bear the name of a female member of the U.S. Navy.
- Sterner, Doris M. (1997). In and Out of Harm's Way: A history of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. Seattle, WA: Peanut Butter Publishing. ISBN 0-89716-706-6.
- Godson, Susan H. (2001). Serving Proudly: A history of Women in the U.S. Navy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-317-6.
- Photos of Lenah Higbee
- Nurses and the U.S. Navy --Overview and Special Image Selection Naval Historical Center
- Arlington National Cemetery biography
Esther Voorhees Hasson
|Superintendent, Navy Nurse Corps
Josephine Beatrice Bowman