Chief Nurse Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, U.S. Navy, (1874-1941)
Lenah H. Sutcliffe was born in Chatham, New Brunswick, on 18 May 1874. She completed nurses' training at the New York Postgraduate Hospital in 1899 and entered private practice soon thereafter. In October 1908, she joined the newly-established U.S. Navy Nurse Corps as one of its first twenty members and was promoted to Chief Nurse in 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 woman to receive that medal. She retired from the Navy in November 1922. Chief Nurse Lenah H. Higbee died at Winter Park, Florida, on 10 January 1941.
USS Higbee (DD-806), commissioned in 1945, was named in her honor, the first U.S. Navy combat ship to bear the name of a female member of the Naval service.
This page features our only images of Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee and provides links to others mounted in a photographic album.
For informal snapshot views of Lenah Higbee, taken in about 1915, see: J.Beatrice Bowman album, pages 93-95.
Click photograph for a larger image
Photo #: 80-G-1037198
Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, (NC) USN
Portrait photograph, taken in uniform during the World War I era.
She was the second Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps, from 20 January 1911 to 30 November 1922.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.
Online Image: 139KB; 600 x 765
Reproductions may be available through the National Archives
Photo #: NH 52960
"The Sacred Twenty"
Group photograph of the first twenty Navy Nurses, appointed in 1908. Taken at the Naval Hospital, Washington, D.C., circa October 1908.
They are identified in Photo # NH 52960 (Complete Caption).
For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions