Ruth Agatha Houghton

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Ruth Agatha Houghton
Born June 29, 1909
Methuen, Massachusetts
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1935–1962?
Rank Captain
Commands held Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, 1958-1962
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Awards American Defense Service Medal with a star
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Medal
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal

Captain Ruth Agatha Houghton (born June 29, 1909) was the Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, serving in that position 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] She also attended George Washington University, Boston University, and The Catholic University of America, and holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in nursing.

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, NY, then transferred to Naval Hospital, Newport, RI 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, CA. During WWII she filled the billet of Chief Nurse at the Naval Training School, Cedar Rapids, IA and then, in July 1943 was assigned as Chief Nurse, Echo Base Hospital #10, Sydney, Australia and promoted to LCDR. 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, OR, and Portsmouth, NH. 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.


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 Catholic University in America, Washington, D. C..[2]

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. 

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