Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Sutcliffe, Lenah H. (Higbee)

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Chief Nurse, USN, (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.