WWI Women: Jane Arminda Delano
By Yasmin Chaudhary
Staff Writer, United States World War One Centennial Commission
Accomplished nurse Jane Arminda Delano played an integral part in the war effort through her mobilization of over twenty thousand American nurses. Her efforts earned her the Distinguished Service Medal, a place in the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame, and a memorial at Schuyler County Hospital in New York—among other honors.
Jane was one of the many descendants of Phillip de la Noye (who include Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge), an eighteen-year-old Frenchman who settled in Plymouth Colony in 1621.
After graduating from Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing, Jane worked with Yellow Fever victims in Florida, where she was known for her leadership skills and nursing innovations. She first became involved with the American Red Cross during the Spanish-American War; a few years later she returned to her alma mater to become director of the Training School for Nurses.
She stayed there until she started climbing ranks: in 1909 she became Superintendent of the US Army Nurse Corps, then President of the American Nurses Association and Chair of the National Committee of the Red Cross Nursing Service.By uniting the work of these three services, Jane created American Red Cross Nursing. When the US entered the Great War, she had eight thousand nurses ready for duty. Throughout the war, over twenty thousand of her nurses had served.
In the severe weather of January 1919, while on a Red Cross mission, she became ill with an ear infection. After treatment, she rallied briefly and continued her work. Later, several mastoid operations were performed, but her condition steadily worsened and she died on April 15, 1919. Her last words were, "I must get back to my work."
She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, where stands a bronze memorial dedicated to her and the 296 nurses that died in the war.