Julia Catherine Stimson

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Julia Catherine Stimson
Julia Catherine Stimson 1920.jpg
Julia Catherine Stimson in 1920
Born (1881-05-26)May 26, 1881
Died September 30, 1948(1948-09-30) (aged 67)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Commands held Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Distinguished Service Medal

Julia Catherine Stimson RRC (May 26, 1881 – September 30, 1948) was an American nurse, credited as one of several persons who brought nursing to the status of a profession.[1]

Early life[edit]

Julia Catherine Stimson was born in Worcester, Massachusetts 26 May 1881. Her parents were the Reverend Henry A. Stimson and Alice Bartlett Stimson. She had three siblings: Dr. Barbara B. Stimson, Dr Philip M. Stimson, and Henry B. Stimson. She was also first cousin to Secretary of War and Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson. She received her bachelor's degree from Vassar College in 1901, then received a degree from the New York Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1908. She held a number of administrative posts in New York City and Missouri, where she received her master's degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1917. She volunteered for military service in April 1917.[2]

Military career[edit]

Stimson being awarded the DSM by General Pershing

As superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps during World War I, Stimson became the first woman to attain the rank of Major (United States) in the United States Army. Mary T. Sarnecky, author of A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps (Penn Press, 1993) wrote, "Stimson actively lived a feminist ideology in several singularly oppressive and paternalistic contexts--the upper-class Victorian home, the turn-of-the-century hospital setting and the military establishment of the early 20th century." [3]

Thousands of women nurses enlisted in the Corps, and returned from the War as both professionals and veterans. Stimson herself was awarded the United States Distinguished Service Medal,[4] presented by General John J. Pershing. She was also awarded the Royal Red Cross.[5] Though she retired from the Army in 1937, Stimson returned after the outbreak of World War II as chief of the Nursing Council on National Defense, and recruited a new generation of women to serve as nurses. She was promoted to full colonel in 1948, shortly before her death.[6] Stimson, who served as President of the American Nursing Association from 1938 to 1944, was inducted into that association's Hall of Fame in 1976.[7]

Her papers are housed at the Weill Cornell Medical Center Archives.[8]




  1. ^ "Julia Catherine Stimson and the Mobilization of Womanhood"
  2. ^ Julia Stimson obituary, Poughkeepsie New Yorker, 20 September 1948
  3. ^ M.T. Sarnecky, Julia Catherine Stimson: nurse and feminist, 1: Image J Nurs Sch. 1993 Summer;25(2):113-9.
  4. ^ General Orders No. 70, 1919, War Department, as cited by "Valor awards for Julia C. Stimson". militarytimes.com. 
  5. ^ "Nursing News and Announcements". The American Journal of Nursing. XIX (12): 964. September 1919. 
  6. ^ Marion Hunt, "Julia Catherine Stimson and the Mobilization of Womanpower" Gateway Heritage, Winter 1999-2000 vol. 20, no. 3.
  7. ^ - American Nurses Association
  8. ^ Guide to the Julia Stimson, RN Papers

External links[edit]