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First Name: Anita

Last Name: McGee

Birthplace: Washington, DC, USA

Gender: Female

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Maiden Name: Newcomb

Date of Birth: 04 November 1864

Date of Death: 05 October 1940


Years Served:
Anita Newcomb McGee

•  Spanish-American War (1898)


Anita Newcomb McGee
Acting Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army

Anita Newcomb was born 4 November 1864 in Washington, DC, the daughter of noted astronomer Simon Newcomb. She married geologist and anthropologist W.J. McGee in 1888. Their oldest child, a daughter named Klotho, was born in 1889 and was primarily raised by a private nurse. Her second child, Donald, died of meningitis at 9 months. Her youngest child, Eric Newcomb, was born in 1902.

Medical Practice

McGee received her medical degree from Columbian College (present-day George Washington University) in 1892, followed by a special post-graduate course in gynecology at Johns Hopkins University. She was in private practice in Washington, DC, from 1892-96 and was one of few woman physicians practicing in the Washington, DC, area at that time. She also had connections with the military through her father, who held the rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy. As Director of the Daughters of the American Revolution Hospital Corps (DAR), she trained volunteer nurses for Army and Navy service after the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898.

McGee's organizing ability led to her appointment as the only woman Acting Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Army on 29 August 1898, and she was placed in charge of the Army's nurses under the Army Surgeon General's Department. After this brief war ended, McGee pursued the establishment of a permanent nursing corps, which became a reality with the Army Nurse Corps, after passage of the Army Reorganization Act legislation, which she helped draft. In 1900, she left her position with the Army, but continued leading the Society of Spanish-American War Nurses, a group she had founded in 1898.

With the threat of war between Russia and Japan looming, McGee led a group of nine volunteer nurses to Japan in 1904, establishing a field hospital for the Imperial Japanese Army. The Japanese Minister of War appointed McGee "Superior of Nurses," giving her rank on par with officers in the Japanese Army. She later served as a Military Medical Attaché and Observer with the Japanese Army in Manchuria during 1905.

After her return to the U.S., McGee lived in her homes in Woods Hole, MA, and Southern Pines, NC, and in California, where she lectured at the University of California and wrote on her experiences in the war.


McGee received the Spanish War Service Medal for her services during the Spanish-American War. For her work in Japan she was awarded the Japanese Imperial Order of the Precious Crown, the Japanese Red Cross Medal and two Russo-Japanese War Medals from the Japanese government.

Death and Burial

Anita Newcomb McGee died on 5 October 1940 of a cerebral hemorrhage. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, next to her father.

Honoree ID: 2830   Created by: MHOH




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