Ruth Agatha Houghton

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Ruth Agatha Houghton
BornJune 29, 1909
Methuen, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedMarch 10, 1986 (aged 76)
Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1935–1962?
Commands heldDirector of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, 1958-1962
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
AwardsAmerican Defense Service Medal with star
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal

Captain Ruth Agatha Houghton (June 29, 1909 – March 10, 1986) was an American nurse who served as the Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps from 1958 to 1962.

Early life[edit]

Houghton was born in 1909, the daughter of Joseph J. and Mary Houghton Kelley.[1]

In 1932, she graduated from St. John's Hospital School of Nursing in Lowell, Massachusetts.[2]

Navy Nurse Corps career[edit]

Houghton was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy Nurse Corps on June 1, 1935. During her years of service, her duty stations included the Canal Zone, Australia, and New Guinea.[2]

From 1935 to 1936, Houghton was assigned to Naval Hospital, New York, New York, then transferred to Naval Hospital, Newport, Rhode Island, where she was assigned from 1936 to 1942. Subsequent assignments included Naval Hospital, Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, Naval Hospital, Puget Sound, Naval Hospital, Corona, California.

During World War II, she filled the billet of Chief Nurse at the Naval Training School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and then, in July 1943 was assigned as Chief Nurse, Echo Base Hospital #10, Sydney, Australia and promoted to lieutenant commander. In August 1944, she took the job of Chief Nurse, Base Hospital #13, New Guinea. In 1945, she was assigned as Nurse Indoctrination Instructor, Philadelphia Naval Hospital, then traveled to Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In 1946, Houghton was assigned to Nursing Division, BUMED as a Detail Officer for the Nurse Corps. Houghton became the Senior nurse corps Officer, Navy Medical Unit, Tripler Army General Hospital in Hawaii in 1950. She subsequently served as Chief Nurse at San Diego Naval Hospital in 1952 and as Chief Nurse, Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1954. She became the first Navy nurse other than the Director to be promoted to the rank of captain in 1957. In 1958, she assumed the role of Director of the Navy Nurse Corps.[2]

Houghton retired on May 1, 1962.

She attended George Washington University, Boston University, and the Catholic University of America. Houghton earned a bachelor of science degree in Nursing Education from Boston College in 1951. She later earned a master of science degree in Nursing from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C..[2]

Houghton died in March 1986 in Portsmouth, Virginia, at the age of 76.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lowell Graduate Heads Nurse Corps", Lowell Sun, Thursday, May 01, 1958, Lowell, Massachusetts, United States Of America
  2. ^ a b c d 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.
  3. ^ Ruth Agatha Houghton - Lifestory

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.
  • Ebbert, Jean and Marie-Beth Hall (1999). Crossed Currents: Navy Women from WWI to Tailhook [Revised]. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's. ISBN 978-1-57488-193-6.
  • 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. Fact filled, extensively researched account of the evolution of the roles of women in the United States Navy, treating the parallel and intertwined paths of the Navy Nurse Corps and the WAVES. About one-third of the pages are devoted to notes and bibliography.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Wilma Leona Jackson
Director, Navy Nurse Corps
Succeeded by
Ruth Alice Erickson