Linda Richards: Honoring America’s First Nurse

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Linda Richards
(July 27, 1841 – April 16, 1930)

Linda Richards was the first professionally trained American nurse and a pioneer in the field of nursing. Although her early life is dotted with tragedy, these events shaped the woman that triumphed in changing the nurse profession forever. Her determination to create a certified nurse training system has allowed millions of American men and women to follow their hearts into healthcare.

To honor her everlasting impact, here are 9 notable moments in Linda Richards’ remarkable life:

    1. At age of 13, Linda was inspired to become a nurse after care taking for her dying mother. Tuberculosis claimed both of her parents. Her father died nine years earlier in 1845 from the disease.
    2. Her husband, George Poole, was severely wounded in the Civil War. Linda cared for him until his death in 1869. This unfortunate event contributed to her desire to become a nurse.
    3. She was the first to enroll in the inaugural class of five students at the first established American nurse training school, the New England Hospital for Women and Children. 
    4. Her diploma is now in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
    5. Linda once trained under Florence Nightingale in England.
    6. She helped establish Japan’s first nurses-training program and supervised the school at the Doshisha Hospital in Kyoto for five years.
    7. Linda created the first system for keeping individual medical records for hospitalized patients.
    8. Nurse training schools and special institutions for those with mental illnesses across the United States were first founded by Linda.
    9. In 1994, the National Women’s Hall of Fame inducted Linda. She is also mentioned in connection with Massachusetts General Hospital on the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.

 

In 1923, a severe stroke hospitalized Linda until her death on April 16, 1930. To continue reading about her life as America’s first nurse consider purchasing her autobiography, Reminiscences of Linda Richards.

 

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