Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee
|Born||May 18, 1874|
Chatham, Dominion of Canada
|Died||January 10, 1941 (aged 66)|
Winter Park, Florida, U.S.
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1908–1922|
|Commands held||Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps (1911–22)|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Spouse(s)||LtCol John Henley Higbee, USMC|
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. She is best known for being the first female recipient of the Navy Cross.
Early life and education
Higbee was born Lenah H. Sutcliffe in Chatham, New Brunswick, Canada, on 18 May 1874. She completed nurses' training at the New York Post-Graduate Hospital in 1899 and entered private practice soon thereafter. Lenah Higbee took postgraduate training at Fordham Hospital, New York in 1908.
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, Higbee became the second Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. For her achievements in leading the Corps through the First World War, Chief Nurse Higbee was awarded the Navy Cross. She was the first woman to receive that decoration.
Date of Action: 1918
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Superintendent Lenah Sutcliff Higbee, 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
She resigned from the position of Superintendent and retired from the Navy on 23 November 1922.
The US Navy has named two ships in her honor;
- USS Higbee (DD-806), a Gearing-class destroyer commissioned in 1945, as the first U.S. Navy warship to bear the name of one of its female members.
- USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123), a planned Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer scheduled to enter the fleet in 2024.
- "Mabus Names DDG After First Woman Awarded Navy Cross". United States Naval Institute. 14 June 2016.
- Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons. McFarland. p. 339. ISBN 9781476625997.
- Greenwood, John T.; Berry, F. Clifton (2005). Medics at War: Military Medicine from Colonial Times to the 21st Century. Naval Institute Press. p. 61. ISBN 1-59114-344-6.
- "Mabus Names DDG After First Woman Awarded Navy Cross". 14 June 2016.
- Skaine, Rosemarie (2011). Women in Combat: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 121. ISBN 9781598844597. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Highbee Navy Cross citation". militarytimes.com. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
- "Higbee, Lenah Sutcliffe-Text".
- Patterson, Michael Robert. "Lehah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, Superintendent, Navy Nurse Corps, United States Navy".
- Thorpe, JR. "10 Heroic Women Who Helped Win WWI, Because The Great War Wasn't Only Fought By Men".
- Public Affairs, Secretary of the Navy. "Secretary Mabus Names Destroyer after Pioneering US Navy Nurse". United States Navy.
- Further reading
- 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
| Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps
Josephine Beatrice Bowman