© Mary T. Sarnecky
Dita Hopkins Kinney was
born in New York City on 13 September 1855 to C.T. and
Myra Burnett Hopkins, Kinney studied as a young woman at
Mills College in California. She married in 1874, gave
birth to one son and was widowed only four years later.
She then attended the Massachusetts General Hospital
training school, graduating in 1892. After graduation,
Kinney devoted her time to teaching child care in New
England and also gave classes to prepare assistants to
trained nurses. Kinney also did private duty nursing and
worked in several institutions--the Almshouse on Long
Island in Boston Harbor, the City and County Hospital of
St. Paul, Minnesota and the French Hospital in San
On 10 September 1898, Kinney signed a contract with
the Army and began her career at the general hospital at
the Presidio of San Francisco, California. It was a false
start. Just six days later the Army annulled Kinney's
contract, releasing her to superintend a Red Cross
convalescent home for soldiers in Oakland, California.2
Soon this home closed and Kinney returned to French
Hospital for eight months. "Finding conditions
impossible" there, she signed another contract on 18
October 1899 and worked as a nurse in the operating room
at the Presidio of San Francisco.3 The Army
then assigned Kinney as the chief nurse of a proposed
1,800 bed hospital which would be located at Nagasaki,
Japan. The hospital mission would be to care for the
allied casualties from the Boxer uprising in China. When
events caused plans for that hospital to be abandoned,
Kinney reported as chief nurse at the general hospital
for consumptives at Fort Bayard, New Mexico. After a
brief sojourn in the southwest, she traveled east to work
with Anita Newcomb McGee in the surgeon general's office
and accepted the superintendent's position. After just
three years of service in the Army, Kinney assumed the
responsibilities of the superintendent of the Corps on 16
Following her resignation as superintendent in July
1909, Kinney pursued postgraduate studies at
Massachusetts General Hospital and subsequently became
superintendent of a hospital in Gloucester,
Massachusetts. She was forced to abandon her work in 1914
due to "breaking health" which "forbade
exertion." During World War I, Kinney taught Red
Cross Home Nursing classes in Maine. She died in Bangor,
Maine, on 16 April 1921 and was buried next to her
husband in Trinity Cemetery in New York City.5
- "Mrs. Dita H. Kinney,"
American Journal of Nursing 1 (March 1901),
403-404; Eileen M. Danis & Rosemary T.
McCarthy, "Dita Hopkins Kinney,
1854-1921," in Vern L. Bullough, Olga
Maranjian Church, & Alice P. Stein, American
Nursing, A Biographical Dictionary (New York:
Garland Publishing Company, 1988): 201-204.
- Ibid.; Julia C. Stimson &
Associates, "History and Manual of the Army
Nurse Corps," The Army Medical Bulletin
Number 41 (Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania:
Medical Field Service School, 1937): 86.
- "Mrs. Dita H. Kinney,"
403; Stimson & Associates, 86.
- Dita H. Kinney, "Department
of Army Nursing," The Trained Nurse and
Hospital Review 26 (April 1901), 212.
- "Nursing News &
Announcements, Obituaries," American Journal
of Nursing 21 (July 1921): 764; "Further
Information About Dita H. Kinney," American
Journal of Nursing 21 (November 1921): 122.