Anna Hamilton

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Anna Hamilton, from a 1919 publication.

Anna Hamilton (22 May 1864 — 19 October 1935) was a French medical doctor, superintendent of the Protestant Hospital in Bordeaux for 34 years, and a proponent of professionalization in nursing.

Early life[edit]

Anna-Emilie Hamilton was born in Fiesole, the daughter of Frenchwoman Zulma Pilatte and Frederic Hamilton, an Englishman of some wealth, who lived in France, she was educated at Chambéry and Geneva, and was the first woman enrolled in the medical school at Marseille. She earned her medical degree at Montpellier in 1901, with a thesis proposing reforms for nurses' training in France;[1][2] the thesis was later published as a book.[3]


Cimetière de Talence - The grave of Anna Hamilton

Hamilton attended the first International Congress of Nurses meeting in London in 1899, she became superintendent of the Protestant Hospital at Bordeaux (La Maison de santé protestante de Bordeaux) from 1901, and founder of the associated Florence Nightingale School for nurses.[4] She believed it best for a nurse to train nurses, so she hired Englishwoman Catherine Ellston to head the nursing school.[5][6]

Before the twentieth century, many of the functions of nursing in French hospitals had been performed by religious sisters;[7] Hamilton commented on the difference, saying "What most surprises the doctors (all more or less prejudiced against lady nurses) is the fact that they do for the patients so many things the nuns would object to do, and they do not discuss and meddle with the doctor's orders."[8]

In 1904 she and Julie Siegfried were the only two women accepted into the Protestant Association for the Practical Study of Social Issues (l'Association protestante pour l'étude pratique des questions sociales), an organization founded by Christian socialists Tommy Fallot and Charles Gide. In 1906 she founded La Garde-Malade hospitalière, the first professional journal for nurses in French, she also founded the French National Council of Hospital Directors (le Conseil national français des directrices d’hôpitaux). During World War I the Protestant Hospital became a military hospital, she spent several months on a lecture tour in the United States in 1919, sponsored by the American Red Cross, raising funds for hospital expansion and improvements.[1][9] In 1930, Hamilton was made a knight of the Legion of Honour.

Personal life[edit]

Hamilton resigned her position as head of the Protestant Hospital in 1934, she died from cancer in 1935, aged 71 years.[10] There are letters written by Hamilton in the Mary Adelaide Nutting Papers, Teachers College, Columbia University; the nursing school Hamilton founded remains in operation.[11]


  1. ^ a b Minnie Goodnow, "A Distinguished Sister" Trained Nurse and Hospital Review (March 1919): 157-158.
  2. ^ Anna-Emilie Hamilton, "Considérations sur les infirmières des hôpitaux" (MD thesis, Faculté de medécine de Montpellier, 1900).
  3. ^ Katrin Schultheiss, Bodies and Souls: Politics and the Professionalization of Nursing in France, 1880-1922 (Harvard University Press 2001): 85-102. ISBN 9780674004917
  4. ^ "Nurses' Memorial at Bordeaux" Modern Hospital (November 1921): 420-421.
  5. ^ Lynn McDonald, ed., Florence Nightingale: Extending Nursing: Collected Works of Florence Nightingale (Wilfrid Laurier University Press 2011): 495-496. ISBN 9781554587469
  6. ^ Grace Ellison, "The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing in France" Federal Council Bulletin (March 1919): 46-47.
  7. ^ Katrin Schultheiss, "'La Véritable Médecine des femmes': Anna Hamilton and the Politics of Nursing Reform in Bordeaux, 1900-1914" French Historical Studies 19(1)(Spring 1995): 183-214.
  8. ^ Hamilton quoted in Stella Bingham, Ministering Angels: A History of Nursing from The Crimea to The Blitz (Dean Street Press 2015). ISBN 9781910570135
  9. ^ Anna Hamilton, "Maison de santé protestante of Bordeaux and the Nursing School (Florence Nightingale System)" The American Journal of Nursing (August 1917): 1098-1101.
  10. ^ "A Pioneer in Nursing Passes" Johns Hopkins Nurses Alumnae Magazine (January 1936): 19-20.
  11. ^ "The American Nurses Memorial of Bordeaux" American Nurse Today (April 2018): 46-47.

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