McGee, Anita Newcomb (1864–1940)

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McGee, Anita Newcomb (1864–1940)

American physician and founder of the army nurse corps . Born Anita Newcomb on November 4, 1864, in Washington, D.C.; died on October 5, 1940; eldest of three daughters of Professor Simon Newcomb (an astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory) and Mary Caroline (Hassler) Newcomb (daughter of Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, founder and first superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey); graduated from private school; traveled and studied for three years in England and Switzerland, took special courses at Newnham College, Cambridge, and the University of Geneva; studied medicine at Columbian (later George Washington University), M.D., 1892; took a postgraduate course in gynecology at Johns Hopkins University; married William J. McGee (an ethnologist), in 1888; children: daughter Klotho (b. 1889); son who died in infancy; son Eric (b. 1902).

Four years after her marriage in 1888, Anita McGee received the degree of M.D. from Columbia University. During the Spanish-American War in 1898–1900, she was acting assistant surgeon, the only woman officer in the U.S. Army, and established and had charge of the nurse corps division of the Surgeon-General's office, the Army Nurse Corps.

In 1904, McGee took a party of American nurses to Japan, and served successfully in the military hospitals there for six months, holding rank as supervisor of nurses in the Japanese army. After her death in 1940, Anita McGee was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.


Anita Newcomb McGee Papers at the Library of Congress.

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McGee, Anita Newcomb (1864–1940)

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