Helen G. McClelland

From Ohio History Central

Ohioan Helen Grace McClelland was one of only three women to receive the Distinguished Service Cross, the United States of America's second highest combat award. She also received the British Royal Red Cross for her actions during World War I.

McClelland was born on July 25, 1887, in Austinburg, Ohio. By the time she turned thirteen years of age, McClelland's family had moved to Fredericktown, Ohio. McClelland eventually enrolled in the Pennsylvania Hospital's School of Nursing, graduating in 1912. During World War I, she joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. While assigned to a British casualty station on the border between Belgium and France, McClelland and her colleagues came under German shellfire. McClelland's tent mate, Beatrice McDonald, was severely wounded, and many sources credit McClelland with saving McDonald's life. For her heroic actions, McClelland received the Distinguished Service Cross and the British Royal Red Cross.

On May 25, 1919, McClelland left the Army Nurse Corps. In 1926, she returned to the Pennsylvania Hospital. From 1933 until 1956, when she retired, McClelland worked as the head of the Pennsylvania Hospital's Nursing Department. McClelland secured national accreditation for the hospital's nursing education program. She also designed both a two-year and a four-year program to train nurses.

McClelland died in December 1984. McClelland exemplifies the important contributions that women made to the United States during World War I and the increasing opportunities that women experienced during the twentieth century.

See Also


  1. Booth, Stephane Elise. Buckeye Women: The History of Ohio's Daughters. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2001.
  2. Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the World War, 1917-1918. Columbus, OH: F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1926.