Jane A. Delano, 1862-1919

  • Jane-A.-Delano-WWP

Woman Category: HealthWoman Tags: Nurse and WDC Metro Area Women

  • HerStory

    A pioneering nurse and the founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service.

    Born in 1862 at Montour Falls, NY, Jane Arminda Delano’s life was devoted strictly to the profession of nursing. She studied at Cook Academy of her hometown and later graduated Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City.
    Her career included working and volunteering in various States, taking on leadership roles as the director of the Training School for Nurses, president of the American Nurses Association, and Superintendent of US Army Nurse Corps. She created the American Red Cross Nursing Service by uniting the organizations she led, training nurses for duty, and supporting teams in wars. She worked intensively, at one point fulfilling four different positions, only taking two years off to treat her dying mother.
    Her life was largely informed by wars – losing her father without knowing him in the Civil War, joining the New York Red Cross during Spanish-American War, and her most notable achievement for US history: recruiting more than 20,000 nurses to serve in World War I.
    As a pioneer in raising public health awareness, Delano initiated a popular course and a textbook, “Elementary Hygiene and Home Care of the Sick.” She advanced and dignified the professional status of nurses in her capacity as president of the Board of Directors of the American Journal of Nursing and president of the American Nurses Association.
    Delano died at the age of 57 from illness while on a mission to visit nurses in post-war France. Five hundred nurses attended her funeral in Savenay, France. The following year her body was relocated to Arlington National Cemetery in the US. The public records of her story include almost no mentioning of personal life, such as love, children, or hobbies.

    “I can’t say that anything romantic or sentimental determined me to be a nurse… I think the nurse’s profession is a fine one, and I like it”

    “I can’t say that anything romantic or sentimental determined me to be a nurse… I think the nurse’s profession is a fine one, and I like it”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She was accepted to Nurse Corps reserve based on a minor forgery: together with two colleagues, she applied despite being older than the maximum 45 year age limit.
    • In her position as superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps, she traveled to Hawaii, the Philippines, China, and Japan to supervise the working conditions of nurses.
    • While working in Bellevue Hospital School, she insisted that students will be called ”nurses” instead of the custom calling them “girls.”
    • She was honored with a stamp of her image issued by the Republic of Mali in the year 2000.
    • When serving as a superintendent of nurses in Florida, she introduced the use of mosquito nets to prevent the spread of yellow fever, before it was proven that mosquitoes carry the disease.
    • She studied to become a physician but quit before graduating to go back to nursing.
    • She is a distant relative of US 32nd President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
  • More About Her Legacy
    Creations By and About Her:

    * Books she wrote
    * A book about her life story


    * Distinguished Service Medal (1918)

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  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Jane Delano | Path Through History | WSKG History

    In 1917, America entered the hellish nightmare of World War I. During the conflict, nearly 20,000 American nurses served in hospitals across Europe tending to the sick and wounded. The rapid training and deployment of these nurses would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of one women – Jane A. Delano.

    ‘Uniquely New York’ is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

    Path Through History: http://paththroughhistory.iloveny.com/
    WSKG’s Path Through History: http://www.wskg.org/PTH
    Schuyler County Historical Society: http://www.schuylerhistory.org/

    Photos Courtesy of:
    Schuyler County Historical Society
    Library of Congress

  • Delano, 3 May 1919. Photo credit - Library of Congress.

  • Citations and Additional References:
    American Red Cross website.
    KU Medical Center website.