Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee


artist rendering of USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee

A graphic representation of the future guided-missile destroyer USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123). (U.S. Navy graphic by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Armando Gonzales/Released)160609-N-LV331-001


Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee was born in Chatham, Canada, on 18 May 1874. After immigrating to the United States, she completed her nursing training at New York Postgraduate Hospital in 1899 and later received further training at Fordham Hospital. On 1 October 1908, she became one the first twenty nurses in the newly-formed Navy Nurse Corps (commonly referred to as The Sacred Twenty). She became the second superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in 1911. 

For her service during World War I, Higbee became the first living woman to recieve the Navy Cross.[1]  She retired from the Navy Nurse Corps on 30 November 1922. Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee died in Winter Park, Florida, on 10 January 1941. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband, Lieutenant Colonel John Henley Higbee, USMC. 

The first ship named after Higbee, USS Higbee (DD-806), was the first combat warship named after a female member of the U.S. Navy. USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) was launched on 27 January 2020 and is currently under construction. 

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1. For information on the three nurses who were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, see “'The Most Terrifying Experience': The U.S. Navy and the Pandemic of 1918."

 

Further Reading

Lenah Sutcliffe Hibgee (Navy Library biography)

Lenah Higbee: A Continuing Legacy and Trailblazer for Navy Women (Sextant blog post)

USS Higbee (DD-806) Press Release

Naval Vessel Registry

 

 


This infographic shares the history of Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, a Navy Cross recipient and Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during the First World War. (U.S. Navy graphic by Annalisa Underwood/Released)

This infographic shares the history of Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, a Navy Cross recipient and Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during the First World War. (U.S. Navy graphic by Annalisa Underwood/Released) 



<p>NH 52960 The Sacred Twenty</p>

"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. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. (NH 52960) 



Photo of USS Higbee

USS Higbee (DD-806) At anchor, circa 1945-1948. Higbee is configured as a radar picket ship, and was redesignated DDR-806 in March 1949. This image was received by the Naval Photographic Center in December 1959, but was taken at least a decade earlier. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. (USN 1045968)                       



photo of Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, (NC) USN

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, now in the collections of the National Archives. (80-G-1037198)



10981u.LOC.Higbee

Mrs. L.S. Higbee at her desk, photograph by Harris & Ewing, 1918.


Published: Thu Apr 01 17:49:10 EDT 2021