Mary E. Gladwin

Mary Elizabeth Gladwin (December 24, 1861 – November 22, 1939) was an English-born American Red Cross nurse active in three wars. She was one of the first six American nurses to receive the Florence Nightingale Medal when it was awarded by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1920.

Mary E. Gladwin
Mary E. Gladwin, from a 1921 publication.
BornDecember 24, 1861
Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire
DiedNovember 22, 1939(1939-11-22) (aged 77)
Known forAmerican nurse in the Spanish–American War, the Russo-Japanese War, and World War I

Early life

Mary Elizabeth Gladwin was born in Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, the daughter of Francis Gladwin and Sarah Gladwin. She was a little child when the family moved to the United States, settling in Akron, Ohio. She graduated from Buchtel College in 1887 (now The University of Akron). She trained as a nurse in Boston, finally completing her formal studies in 1902, after much experience in the field.[1][2]


Gladwin was a science teacher in Norwalk, Ohio after finishing college. Her first work as a war nurse was while she was still a nursing student, during the Spanish–American War in 1898, treating soldiers with typhoid fever in Chickamauga, Georgia. She was soon included in American Red Cross units assigned to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines as well. She was awarded a Spanish War Service Medal for her service. During the Russo-Japanese War she joined an American Red Cross unit, assisting Japanese nurses at Hiroshima. The Japanese emperor personally presented Gladwin with the Imperial Order of the Crown for her service.[2]

She was superintendent at Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts from 1904 to 1907, and at Woman's Hospital in New York City from 1907 to 1913. At home in Ohio, she worked with the Red Cross during the Great Dayton Flood of 1913.[3][4] She was head of women's employment at the B. F. Goodrich Tire Company in Ohio, and was superintendent at the City Hospital in Cleveland. She was also president of the Ohio State Nurses Association[5] and chaired the National Committee on Red Cross Nursing in 1911.[6]

During World War I, Gladwin went to Serbia with the American Red Cross, to work at a hospital in Belgrade,[7][8] and later at Salonica in Greece. She received the Serbian Cross of Charity medal for her service there, and in 1920 was one of the first six American nurses to receive the Florence Nightingale Medal from the International Committee of the Red Cross. After World War I, Gladwin worked as a hospital administrator and nursing instructor in New York and Minnesota. She wrote two books, Ethics: Talks to Nurses (1930)[9] and a biography of Jane Delano (1931),[10] and articles for the American Journal of Nursing.[11] She was also a frequent speaker for students and women's groups,[12] especially after 1929.[13][14] "If the fathers and mothers could have seen what I have seen on the bloody battlefields," she said, "there never would be another war."[15]

Death and legacy

Gladwin died in 1939 at Akron City Hospital, aged 77 years.[16] In 1978, the new building for the School of Nursing at Akron University was named Mary E. Gladwin Hall.[17] Her papers, including diary, photographs, and an unpublished memoir, are archived at the University of Akron, but her medals were donated to the Summit County Historical Society.[1][2]


  1. Kristen Newby, "'The Red Crosser': Mary Gladwin in World War I". Ohio Memory (November 17, 2017).
  2. Inventory of the Mary E. Gladwin Papers, University of Akron.
  3. Mary E. Gladwin, "Lessons from the Flood Relief Work" American Journal of Nursing (August 1913): 30.
  4. Doug Bardwell, "Akron and the World Owe Thanks to Mary E. Gladwin" News from Across the Region (January 26, 2017).
  5. "Ohio" American Journal of Nursing (1912): 439.
  6. Jane A. Delano, "The Red Cross" American Journal of Nursing (October 1911): 30.
  7. "Akron Nurse in Ill-Fated City" Akron Evening Times (October 11, 1915): 1. via
  8. "Miss Gladwin Will Reach New York Today" Akron Evening Times (January 4, 1916): 1. via
  9. Mary E. Gladwin, Ethics: Talks to Nurses (W. B. Saunders 1930).
  10. Mary Elizabeth Gladwin, The Red Cross and Jane Arminda Delano (W. B. Saunders Company 1931).
  11. Mary E. Gladwin, "Speaking in Public: Suggestions for Young Nurses" American Journal of Nursing (October 31): 1147-1152.
  12. "To Make Two-Day Tour of County" Daily Republican (January 23, 1922): 1. via
  13. "Noted War Nurse Leaves Hospitals to Give Lectures" Akron Beacon Journal (October 8, 1929): 25. via
  14. "Veteran Red Cross Nurse Will Speak" Akron Beacon Journal (April 3, 1930): 23. via
  15. Mark J. Price, "Local history: Akron nurse an angel of mercy during hell of war". Akron Beacon Journal (May 26, 2013).
  16. "Mary E. Gladwin, War Nurse" Daily News (November 23, 1939): 48. via
  17. "History", University of Akron School of Nursing.
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