Public Health Nursing Pioneer:
Jane Elizabeth Hitchcock


Address correspondence to Joellen W. Hawkins, Boston College, William F. Connell School of Nursing, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. E-mail:


Abstract  Jane Elizabeth Hitchcock was one of many distinguished nursing leaders of the 19th and early 20th centuries who attended a women's college before enrolling in a nurse training school. Like many of her contemporaries with equally impeccable family credentials, Hitchcock was something of an enigma to her family for choosing nursing over teaching, the most common acceptable career for women of her social class. Hitchcock's endowment of character, according to contemporary Lavinia Dock, exemplified the best of her Puritan roots. Her contributions to the evolution of public health nursing and the integration of public health nursing content into curriculums of training schools rivaled the achievements in higher education of her famous father, grandfather, and brother but garnered no comparable recognition. Her life presents an interesting case for analysis of an independent woman, a characteristic shared by many pioneers in the early years of public health nursing: 1893 to 1920.