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Alice Louise Florence Fitzgerald was born in March 13, 1874 and raised in Florence, Italy to a Baltimore family. She was educated in France, Switzerland and Germany. She entered the Johns Hopkins Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1902 against her family’s wishes. During her training, she was called back to Italy. She completed her time of nursing service in 1907 but graduated as a member of the class of 1906. After graduation she remained at Hopkins as a head nurse for a year. In 1908, as a member of the Florence branch of the Italian Red Cross, she assisted in earthquake relief in Messina, Italy. In 1909-1910 she returned to Hopkins as a head nurse. From Dec. 1910 to Aug. 1912 she worked at Bellevue Hospital in New York as a head nurse in order to reorganize its operating room nursing service. From 1912-1913 she was Superintendent of Nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Pennsylvania. In 1913 she became the first superintendent of nurses at the Robert Long Hospital at the University of Indiana in Indianapolis. In 1915 she took a summer course at Teachers College, Columbia University. She then was in charge of Health Services at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

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During World War I, she was selected as the Edith Cavell Memorial Nurse from Massachusetts and served as an American Nurse with the British Expeditionary Forces at Hospital No. 13 in France from 1916-1917. Upon America’s entrance into the war, she resigned to join the American Red Cross and served in France and Italy, at the Paris Headquarters, at zone headquarters in Bordeaux, as chief nurse in the Service de Sante in Paris, and at a Hospital in Rimini for Venetian refugees. She remained in Europe after the war as Chief Nurse of the American Red Cross Commission in Europe. She organized local nursing schools and public health nursing services in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Montenegro, and Albania. In Oct. 1919, she became the first Director of the Nursing Bureau of the League of Red Cross Societies in Geneva. She started the International School for Public Health Nurses for the Florence Nightingale International Foundation in London. She returned to the United States briefly in 1921.

In 1922, she went to the Philippines for 2 years at the request of the International Health Board of the Rockefeller Foundation as an advisor on Public Health Nursing to Governor General Leonard Wood, where she organized a public health nursing service. In 1923 she, along with the Filipino nurses she was training, assisted in earthquake relief work in Japan. Starting in 1924 she surveyed the nursing needs in Siam, Hongkong, and Singapore. In 1926 she started a nursing school at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. This was followed by a survey of nursing in China in 1928. She returned to the United States in 1929 and completed a survey of nursing schools in the state of Maryland for the Maryland State Board of Nurse Examiners. She was director of nurses at Polyclinic Hospital in New York from 1930-1936. She then resigned to write her memoirs and raise marmosets. In 1940 she was awarded a medal for her work with the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China. Her last nursing position was as housemother in the nurses home at Shepard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore. She retired from active nursing in 1948. She lived the remainder of her life at Peabody Nursing Home in New York City, where she died on Nov. 10, 1962.

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Scope and Content

The Alice Fitzgerald Collection consists primarily of diaries, scrapbooks, correspondence, clippings, photographs, certificates and medals, relating to Fitzgerald’s nursing service in Europe during World War I and in Asia during the 1920s.

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Hopkins and the Great War exhibit featuring Alice Fitzgerald

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