Helen Grace McClelland


Helen Grace McClelland (July 25, 1887 – December 20, 1984),[1]  a United States Army nurse, was awarded the United States Distinguished Service Cross and the British Royal Red Cross Medal (First Class) for heroic actions during World War I while serving at a British Base Hospital in France.[2][3] McClelland was one of only three women to receive the Distinguished Service Cross award during World War I.[2] After returning to the United States, McClelland spent twenty-three years as Director of Pennsylvania Hospital's School of Nursing.[1] In her role, McClelland advocated for the professionalization and modernization of nursing.[1][4] McClelland was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 1978.[5]

Helen Grace McClelland
Helen Grace McClelland WWI.jpg
United States Army Nursing Corp World War I, 1919
Born(1887-07-25)July 25, 1887
DiedDecember 20, 1984(1984-12-20) (aged 97)
EducationPennsylvania Hospital's School of Nursing
Military career
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1915—1919

Early life and educationEdit

Helen Grace McClelland was born on July 25, 1887, in Austinburg, Ohio.[3] McClelland was the middle child in the family with two older sisters, Mary and Florence, and two younger brothers, Raymond and Stewart.[2] She moved with her father, Raymond McClelland, a pastor, and her mother Harriett (Cooper) McClelland, and her four siblings to Fredericktown, Ohio in 1897.[1][2]

McClelland enrolled in Pennsylvania Hospital's School of Nursing in 1908 and graduated in 1912.[3][1] After graduation, she relocated to Weiser, Idaho to take a position as head nurse. In 1913, she moved to Norfolk, Virginia to take a job at Norfolk Protestant Hospital.[1]

World War IEdit

McClelland joined the American Ambulance Service in France in 1915.[1]

During World War I, McClelland joined the United States Army Nurse Corps and was assigned to British Casualty Clearing Station Number 61 near the border between Belgium and France as a surgical nurse.[3][2] McClelland was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross,[6] a citation from General Sir Douglas Haig, and the Royal Red Cross First Class from Britain for her heroic actions during World War One.[2][3] During an air raid bombing in August 1917, McClelland cared for injured nurse Beatrice Mary MacDonald, who lost the sight in her right eye.[7]

McClelland left the Army Nurse Corps. May 25, 1919, as one of the most decorated women during World War I.[3][2]

Pennsylvania HospitalEdit

McClelland returned to Pennsylvania Hospital in 1926 as assistant to the head of the school of nursing.[2] In 1933, McClelland took the position of head of the Pennsylvania Hospital's Nursing Department.[2] She obtained national accreditation for the hospital's nursing education program.[4] She designed training programs for nurses two-year training program for bedside nurse, and a four-year program to train nurses for management positions.[8] Stacy Peeples, lead historian and curator at Pennsylvania Hospital, said, “Helen Grace McClelland perhaps more than any other single person, shaped the nursing school and nursing services at Pennsylvania Hospital.”[8] McClelland retired in 1956.[1]

Other contributions to nursingEdit

At the onset of World War II, McClelland assisted with the planning and operational organization of the nursing services of the 52nd Evacuation Hospital.[4] She recruited 43 nurses, many from Pennsylvania Hospital, to serve at this Evacuation Hospital in New Caledonia.[8]

Later life, death and legacyEdit

In 1978, McClelland was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame.[5]

McClelland died on December 20, 1984, in Fredericktown, Ohio, and was buried in Wayne Baptist Ceremony.[1]

Awards named for McClelland to honor her include: Helen McClelland Award for Research and Innovation,[9] and Helen McClelland Award for Clinical Scholarship.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Royster, Jacqueline Jones (2003). Profiles of Ohio Women, 1803-2003. Ohio University Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780821415085.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Frank, Lisa Tendrich (2013). An Encyclopedia of American Women at War: From the Home Front to the Battlefields. ABC-CLIO. p. 379. ISBN 9781598844436.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Helen G. McClelland - Ohio History Central". www.ohiohistorycentral.org. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  4. ^ a b c "Pennsylvania Hospital History: Historical Collections - Schools of Nursing Exhibit". www.uphs.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  5. ^ a b Ohio Women's Hall of Fame Bio: Helen Grace McClelland, http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/women/halloffame/bio.asp?ID=201
  6. ^ "Distinguished Service Cross - World War I (L-M)". ameddregiment.amedd.army.mil. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  7. ^ Lettie Gavin, American Women in World War I: They Also Served (Boulder: UP of Colorado, 1997, p. 257).
  8. ^ a b c "Celebrating PAH's Legacy of Women in Medicine – PR News". www.pennmedicine.org. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  9. ^ "Setting the Standards for Excellence : Next Chapter". blog.pennpartners.org. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  10. ^ "Call for Nominations: 15th Annual UPHS Nursing Clinical Excellence Awards – PR News". www.pennmedicine.org. Retrieved 2017-10-18.