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Ida Jane Anderson

Ida Jane Anderson, RN
1869 – 1958
New York State’s First Registered Nurse

Oh, the graduates of 1902
We’re the kind
That were always true blue
Their work never shirking,
With no interne’s flirting,
Those nurses of 1902.

This class poem was composed in 1903 by Ida Jane Anderson while she was a student Rochester Homeopathic Hospital (later The Genesee Hospital) class of 1902. Ida Jane was a remarkable woman, with a nursing career spanning several decades. Most notably, she was the first registered nurse in New York State, receiving this distinction after the passage of the Nurse Registration Act in 1903.

Born January 12, 1869 in Napanee, Ontario, Canada Ida Jane spent her early years with her father, J. Luman Anderson, a shoemaker, and her mother Anna Eliza Mills Anderson, along with three brothers and three sisters. In July 1887, at the age of 18, she left Canada alone and came to the port of Charlotte, New York. Ida Jane settled in the city of Rochester, New York becoming a dressmaker. Her brother, Charles, followed three years later and went on to build a successful business manufacturing soft-soled baby shoes.

In June 1899, at the age of 30, she enrolled in the Rochester Homeopathic Hospital Nurses’ Training School. Living in the nurse’s residence on Alexander Street, she studied and worked long hours. She enjoyed her three years in nurses’ training as evidenced by her association with the alumni organization, the writing of the class poem, the class yell and class song.

After her graduation in 1902, her parents relocated to Rochester, living at 179 Henrietta Street with Ida Jane and their six-month-old granddaughter, Ila Anderson. Ida Jane, who never married, essentially stepped into motherhood and raised her niece, whose mother had died in 1903.

In the 1930’s, Ida Jane became a world traveler. When home in Rochester, she preferred to travel on foot and was an avid walker. She was also expert in crocheting and knitting.

Ida Jane Anderson spent much of her career in private practice. She was the first graduate nurse to become a night supervisor at the Rochester Homeopathic Hospital. Later she became the hospital’s second Social Worker in 1909. She also worked at Strong Memorial Hospital in the 1940s. During the Smallpox Epidemic of 1902 she nursed the victims at Hope Hospital. Throughout he career she remained active with the Alumni Association holding several offices.

Ida Jane died at Monroe Community Hospital in 1958 and is buried at Mt. Hope.

She donated her uniforms along with her hospital pins and other memorabilia to the Alumni Archives.

Contributed by Pat Mims