1858 - 1956

Photo of Lavinia L. Dock's grave courtesy of Mary Ann Burnam

Photo of headstone for Lavinia Dock which she shares with two of her sisters.

It is an injustice to summarize the life of Lavinia Dock: her brilliance sparked many causes and not just in nursing. Born February 26 1858 in Harrisburg, PA, she was one of six children. Well educated, she is said to have been inspired to enter nursing after reading a magazine article. Below are some highlights of her life:

1886   Graduated Bellevue Training School for Nurses
1888 During a yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville FL ran ward with Jane Delano
1889   Worked at Johnstown (PA) flood
1890 Assistant superintendent under Isabel Hampton at Johns Hopkins.
1893 Spoke at Columbian Exposition in Chicago
1893 Present at founding of the Society of Superintendents of Training Schools
1893 Became superintendent at Illinois Training School ["I was really a failure"]
1896 Joins with Lillian Wald at the Henry Street Settlement where she lives and works for next 20 years. She claimed she never thought until this time.

Very instrumental:
  • Society of Superintendent of Training Schools, served as secretary
  • 1896 Dock was chairperson and secretary of the Committee on a National Association that founded the Nurses' Associated Alumnae.
  • International Council of Nurses; founded with Ethel Gordon Fenwick; served as Secretary from 1900-1922
  • Volunteer faculty at Teachers College in Hospital Economics program
  • Contributing Editor for AJN "Foreign Department" 1900-1923
  • Wrote History of Nursing with Adelaide Nutting.
  • Joined Alice Paul's Advisory Council of the National Woman's Party

Social Activism:

1907 Joined Equality League of Self Supporting Women; ran suffrage newsstand in front of their office.
   Involved with Social Reform Club. Also worked with NY Women's Trade Union League.
1909 Walked picket lines for Shirtwaist strike
1913 Spoke at ANA convention urging nurses to support union movement
1910 Hygiene & Morality published; called for abolition of double standard of morality; abolish, not regulate prostitution, suffrage for women, self control for men.
1912   Walked with 4 other women from NYC to Albany on a Suffrage hike
1913    Organized marchers from the Lower East side for the Suffrage parade, carried banners in 10 languages
1917 Led suffrage pickets from the National Women's Party Headquarters to the White House. Was jailed June 25 and August 17, 1917, and again August 6, 1918 for participating in militant demonstrations.
  With Leonora O'Reilly founded a local of the United Garment Workers of America at a Henry Street workshop. Encouraged workers to unite in trade unions.
  Crusader against VD; early member of American Society of Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis
1921 Praised birth control leader Margaret Sanger: "for teaching to poor working women what all well-to-do women may learn from reliable authority"
   Active in National Woman's Party
   Condemned World War I
1916 Moved back with family in Pennsylvania
1922 Resigned as ICN secretary
1923 Resigned from American Journal of Nursing
1947 Attended ICN at Atlantic City age 89
1956 Fell, broke hip, died April 17

Photo  courtesy of Mary Ann Burnam

Miss Dock's grave in the family plot in the Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, PA 
Photo by Dr Mary Ann Burnam


Burnam, M.A.B. (1998). Lavinia Lloyd Dock: An activist in nursing and social reform. Ph.D. dissertation, The Ohio State University.

Dock, L.L. (1977).   Lavinia L. Dock: Self portrait.   Nursing Outlook, 25, 22-26.

Dock L.L.   (1926). A history of nursing, Vol III. Buffalo: The Heritage Press.

Christy, T. (1969).   Portrait of a leader: Lavinia Lloyd Dock.   Nursing Outlook, 17:72-5.

Estabrooks, C.A.   (1995).   Lavinia Lloyd Dock: the Henry Street years.   Nursing History Review 1995; 3: 143-72.

James, J.W., & Stein, A. P. (1988). Lavinia Lloyd Dock. In: American nursing: A biographical dictionary.    V.L. Bullough, O.M., Church, & A.P. Stein, (Eds.). New York: Garland.

Monteiro, L. (1978).  Lavinia L. Dock: On nurses and the Cold War.   Nursing Forum 17:46-54.

Ott, M. (1994). An analysis of the friendship of Lavinia Dock and Lillian Wald, 1898-1930. Master's thesis, D'Youville College.

Poslusny, S.M.  (1989).  Feminist friendship: Isabel Hampton Robb, Lavinia Lloyd Dock and Mary Adelaide Nutting.   Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship 21(2): 64-8.

Ramos, M.   (1997).   Caring for patients, profession, and world: the social activism of Lavinia Lloyd Dock.   International Journal for Human Caring (1997 Spring) 1(1): 12-7.

Roberts, M. (1956). Lavinia Lloyd Dock - Nurse, feminist, internationalist. American Journal of Nursing 56(2): 176-179.