Skip to Main Content

Isabel Adams Hampton Robb

Isabel Adams Hampton Robb


Robb, the first superintendent of nurses at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, was born in Welland, Ontario. At age seventeen, she started work as a public school teacher in Merritton, Ontario. She entered Bellevue Training School for Nurses in New York in 1881 and received her diploma in 1883.

Upon graduation, for a few weeks she served as substitute for the superintendent of nurses in the Woman’s Hospital, New York. She then spent two years in Rome as a nurse at St. Paul’s House, which was run jointly by the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Church of England and provided English and American nurses to wealthy travelers in Rome.

After returning from Rome, she served as a private nurse for the Conover family in South Amboy, New Jersey. In 1886, she went to Chicago, were she was the superintendent of Illinois Training School for Nurses at Cook County Hospital.

In 1889, she came to the newly opened Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she was the first superintendent of nurses and principal of the training school. Hampton was present in 1890 for the formation of the Women’s Fund Committee, which called for the admission of women into the School of Medicine. While superintendent, she wrote the nursing text book, Nursing: Its Principles and Practices, published in 1893. That year at the World’s Fair in Chicago, she organized the nurses section of the International Congress of Charities, Correction and Philanthropy, for which she arranged to have Florence Nightingale send an address. Out of these activities, the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses was organized, which would later become the National League for Nurses. Robb later served as its president.

She left Johns Hopkins in 1894 to marry Hunter Robb, an obstetrician/gynecologist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. They were wed in London on July 11, 1894. Florence Nightingale sent Robb a wedding bouquet. The couple moved to Cleveland and had two sons.

Robb continued her leadership in the nursing profession locally, nationally, and internationally through her writing, nursing organizations, and activities. She was active in the International Council of Nurses and the Committee to Secure by Act of Congress the Employment of Graduate Women Nurses in the Hospital Service of the U.S. Army, which worked toward the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps.

In 1896, Robb became the first president of the Nurses’ Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada, which would later become the American Nurses Association. She helped to found the American Journal of Nurses. Robb was instrumental in establishing the course in Hospital Economics at Teachers College, Columbia University in 1899, and she worked to secure a place for professional nurses within the Red Cross Nursing Service. Locally, she served as an advisor to the Lakeside Training School for Nurses in Cleveland and helped found the Cleveland Visiting Nurse Association. Robb continued to write and give speeches on various nursing topics. She wrote the books Nursing Ethics in 1900 and Educational Standards for Nurses in 1907. Her untimely death was the result of a streetcar accident in Cleveland.

Additional Portrait(s) of Isabel Adams Hampton Robb

"*" indicates required fields

Tell Us More

Can you tell us more about this person? Have you spotted an error? Is there information missing? If you have new information to share, please complete the form below.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.