Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science

Dissertation Committee

Irene Sabelberg Palmer, Phd, RN, Chair; Patricia A. Roth, EdD, RN; Janet K. Harrison, EdD, RN


American history, biography, Elinor Delight Gregg, Native Americans, nursing, women


The intent of this investigation was to conduct an extensive study of the life and character of Elinor Gregg (1886-1970) in order to identify the contributions she made to professional nursing and to humanity. Nurse, educator, administrator, beloved relative, and friend, Elinor Gregg was an outstanding person whom nurses today might well emulate. Historical method provided the context for the study. Data were collected from the National Archives; National Library of Medicine Historical Section; Nursing Archives at Mugar Library, Boston University; Nursing Archives at Simmons College; National Headquarters of the American Red Cross; Archives of Colorado College; and Archives of the University of New Mexico. Additional biographical information was collected through interviews with surviving relatives and friends who were closely associated with Elinor Gregg during her lifetime. Findings were presented in the form of biography. The conceptual framework which guided this study was an integrative model of life span development by Baltes and colleagues. Throughout the investigation Elinor Gregg's opportunities, activities, and responsibilities were analyzed and integrated with the Baltes model to illustrate the lifelong nature of Elinor Gregg's development. After graduating from the Waltham Training School for Nurses, Elinor Gregg worked in a variety of pioneering roles including industrial nurse, private duty nurse, and nurse superintendent before serving with the Red Cross in France during World War I. Following the war, she continued in the service of the Red Cross as the first Public Health nurse with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota. Based on her performance, she was promoted and relocated in Washington, D.C. where she reorganized the hospital nursing service and established the public health nursing division in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She presented her vision and affected change in the Bureau without becoming discouraged. Findings revealed that Elinor Gregg had a great sense for practical values, was scientifically progressive, demonstrated an inquisitive mind and a good sense of humor, and worked with untiring energy. The study of her life teaches us about nursing leadership and a lifetime of development.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons