Delano, Jane Arminda (1862–1919)

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Delano, Jane Arminda (1862–1919)

American nurse who unified the workings of the Army Nurse Corps and the Red Cross. Born on March 12, 1862, in Townsend, New York; died on April 15, 1919, in Savenay, France; youngest of two daughters of George and Mary Ann (Wright) Delano; attended Cook Academy, Montour Falls, New York; Bellevue Hospital Training School for Nurses, New York, 1884–86; brief courses of study at the University of Buffalo Medical School and the New York School of Civics and Philanthropy.

Graduating as a nurse in 1886, Jane Delano began her career during a yellow fever epidemic in 1887. That year, as a superintending nurse at an emergency center near Jacksonville, Florida, she insisted on the use of mosquito netting, though the cause of the outbreak had not yet been determined. She moved on to attend a typhoid fever epidemic in a mining company hospital in the Arizona Territory and, from 1890 to 1895, acted as assistant superintendent of nurses and as an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing. After further studies and various positions of employment (including at the New York City House of Refuge on Randall's Island and at the nursing school of Bellevue and its associated hospitals), she left professional life for two years to care for her mother in her last illness.

In 1909, Delano's reputation was such that she was named chair of the newly formed National Committee on Red Cross Nursing Services, which had been established to create a bridge between the Red Cross (then headed by Mabel Boardman ) and the nursing profession. That same year, she was elected president of the American Nurses' Association and superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps. Before leaving her army post in 1912 to devote herself full time to the Red Cross, she was successful in replacing the Army Nursing Reserves with a Red Cross nursing corps and in raising salaries for army nurses, thus attracting a higher caliber of graduates to its ranks.

In 1912, Delano locked heads with Boardman over the issue of keeping the American Red Cross Nursing Service a strictly professional service rather than voluntary. Although Delano prevailed, she allowed Boardman to develop the auxiliary Volunteer Nurses' Aides. With Isabel McIsaac , Delano also produced a book, American Red Cross Textbook on Elementary Hygiene and Home Care of the Sick, to help train the volunteers (1913).

Under Delano's leadership, the nursing service was able to provide 8,000 nurses to the Army Nurse Corps when the United States entered World War I in April 1917. During the course of the war, she administered the flow of 20,000 nurses for duty overseas, as well as large numbers of nurses aides and other workers. The added emergency of the influenza epidemic of 1918 was also met by the Red Cross nurses.

Delano's tireless work took a toll on her strength as well as her good nature. In 1919, on an inspection tour of postwar Red Cross work in France, she was stricken with mastoiditis and died in a hospital in Savenay, France. The U.S. Army and the Red Cross awarded her posthumous distinguished service medals, and her body was brought from France and reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Delano, Jane Arminda (1862–1919)

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