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Newsletter 2017:1

From Lynn McDonald, project director · January 19, 2017

150 Years ago: Nightingale's proposal for quality nursing, even in the workhouse infirmaries

January 19 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Nightingale's great proposal for reform to the Poor Law system of Britain, when workhouse infirmaries were the only recourse for the great majority of the population (the regular hospitals were fee paying, with some charity wards). The workhouse infirmaries then were dreaded places, with bed sharing, lousy ventilation and vermin. While there was some attendance by qualified doctors, the only "nursing" provided was by "pauper nurses," or women with no training, paid a small amount, normally spent on alcohol. Drinking on the job was problem enough in the regular hospitals, but reform had begun. Not so in the workhouses, until the first experiment in Liverpool, organized by Nightingale, and financed by a Liverpool philanthropist.

Nightingale's proposal in 1867 was a brief to a Parliamentary committee on London workhouses. Its subject was limited to cubic space, certainly an issue, but to Nightingale far from the most important. She took the opportunity to bootleg her cause: the need for quality nursing care.

Her proposal for fundamental reform was not accepted, but the way was opened for reforms at workhouses with progressive boards. Gradual reforms brought up the standards at the workhouses, with Nightingale promoting both improved nursing and better hospital buildings themselves. Reforms continued to be brought in over the next decades, so that, when the National Health Service was launched in 1948, the old workhouse infirmaries could be integrated with the regular, civil, hospitals.

Question: has any Nightingale-related organization noticed this great anniversary? The Royal College of Nursing? Nursing journals??

"New" Nightingale material

I am always pleased to see a "new" letter, meaning one which simply has not been available, but which turns up in a publication. Here is one Nightingale wrote to Ellen Ranyard, who started the Ranyard Mission, or the "Biblewomen" who went to the houses of the poor to provide care. They were said to have a copy of Notes on Nursing under one arm, the Bible under the other.

These women were given only cursory training, however, and their hygiene practices were defective. As the author explained, the mission's instructions to the nurses "sound strangely unhygienic today," that they should not fear to "soil" their dark gown, and that it was possible "to be far too clean and respectable for the work" (Alice M. Bunford, Ninety Years a Mission 1857-1947. London: Ranyard Mission 1948, p. 10).

In 1875, Nightingale sent Mrs Ranyard a donation of ?20 with her gratitude and encouragement, and a hint at better practice:

A small gift for the Biblewomen Nurses with Florence Nightingale's deepest sympathy for the noble attempt to provide nursing and cleanliness for the very poor; with gratitude to God and fervent prayer for its extension and progress. And if she might hint a wish, it would be that this little sum should be expended in waterproof cloaks or washing gowns for summer and washing linen sleeves to take on and off, and washing aprons or washing money for two or three of the nurses in the very poorest district, where there is no local lady to look after these things for the nurses (pp. 10-11).


Newsletter 2016:6

From Lynn McDonald, project director · November 29, 2016

In Memoriam—Gérard Vallée (1933-2016)

I am sorry to inform people connected with the production of the Collected Works volumes that a dear colleague, Professor Gérard Vallée, has died. Gérard was professor emeritus of Religious Studies at McMaster University, Hamilton. He began by advising on the project, then took on editing Volume 4, Mysticism and Eastern Religions, which includes a critical edition of Nightingale's Notes on Devotional Authors of the Middle Ages and her Letters from Egypt.

Gérard then took on the two volumes on India, a new field for him: volume 9, Health in India and volume 10, Social Change in India. He was a wonderful colleague and will be sadly missed by friends, family, former students and colleagues.

reservist standing at FN's bench location, Derbyshire

Nightingale's Thinking Spot, Lea Hurst,Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Nightingale would be pleased to know that there is a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, active in the area around Lea Hurst, the Nightingale family home. It is now working on restoring the derelict Aqueduct Cottage, owned by the family, in Lea Wood, on the banks of the Cromford Canal.

The picture is of the Reserves Officer, at the bench where Nightingale liked to sit quietly and reflect.

St Florence Nightingale at Cornell UniversityStained Glass Window at Cornell University Chapel

This wonderful stained glass window has the intriguing caption under it, "St Florence Nightingale. To the Memory of Mary Bartlett Hill 1818-1887, this window is erected by her classmates and fellow students."

Next London Trip: March-April 2017

I will be spending March and April of 2017 in London, near the British Library (my club!) and would be happy to meet with people on Nightingale interests and attend related events (please notify me of any you know of).



Newsletter 2016:5

From Lynn McDonald, project director · October 10, 2016

New Nightingale letters

Many thanks to Dr Edward Halloran, RN, for sending me a copy of a letter unknown to me, held at the Armitt Museum Gallery Library in Ambleside. It is an enthusiastic letter of thanks to an India expert for his complimentary letter on Lord Lawrence (Lawrence was a major ally of Nightingale’s on sanitary reform in India). Thanks to Dr Halloran also for alerting me to material I did not know about on Nightingale’s influence on health care during the American Civil War.

July 30/79
10 South St.
Park Lane

Sir, I am a stranger to you, but not to “John Lawrence” have no excuse for addressing you but to say Thank you. Thank you for your noble letter about Lord Lawrence in yesterday’s Times.
You knew him, you know what we feel.
But you cannot know how little he is known in England.
Your contribution to this history in the Mutiny is precious beyond words, it is priceless.
Could you not publish more soon before the mass of people have now forgotten him in the rush of the present day, a sketch, no one else can do it embodying what your letter in the “Times” gives a fragment of.
They are going to raise a monument to him. I trust this will be carried out but yours will be the true Monument.
Such a sketch without pretending to be a life as MacCauley would have written in a “Biographical Essay”.
But what an immeasurable advantage you have above MacCauley by being the sharer in those grand deeds of which you write.
Even that short letter of yours gives deeds which will be handed down to England’s great great grand children — to all time.
Let me say do not wait to til a Life can be written of him  his name will then have become history like — but who was there like him. But we want it now. Give us his spirit in a sketch by you of the deeds which it inspired & which you shared while his name may still be made one of England’s and India’s “good words” household words.
We do so want a hero to reverence- in these days of House of Commons squabbles and so petty, so unheroic.
Show him to us “This last great man” said India now adored.
Show us that last great man that he may not be the last while we can still see “the chariots of Israel and the horses thereof” that carried him away from us up into heaven.
Forgive me, I will not say more — the subject must speak for me.

Florence Nightingale
Arthur Brandreth


Nightingale’s Influence in the United States

Nightingale was well known in the United States, from the Crimea on. Another example of it (again, thanks to Ed Halloran) is the citation of Nightingale by eminent Oliver Wendell Holmes, in a famous paper of his, “Currents and Counter Currents in Medicine,” 1861, or soon after publication of her Notes on Nursing. He was one of the few doctors to condemn “heroic medicine,” or the use of powerful drugs (and metals, etc.), in favour of facilitating nature’s cure.

‘Hippocrates stated the case on the side of “Nature” more than 2000 years ago and if I name her next to the august Father of the healing art, the noblest daughter well deserves that place of honour — Miss Florence Nightingale begins her late volume with a paraphrase of his statement. But from a very early time to this there has been a strong party against “Nature.”’

Holmes’s “Currents and Counter Currents” is famous for his statement that “if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be the better for mankind — and all the worse for the fishes.” Nightingale was always cautious about medicine.

At the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Thanks to my cousin, Dr David Large, for accessing this missing late letter in Edinburgh, to Dr Joseph Bell, who for years gave instructions to the nurses. A great admirer of Nightingale, he was the model for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The letter shows Nightingale, in 1897, defending control of the nursing by the matron — not the doctors.

Bell dedicated his 1887 book, Notes on Surgery for Nurses, to Nightingale.


Private
& Confidential Jany 13/97
[printed address] 10, South Street
Park Lane, W.

My dear Sir

I have never thanked
you for your very kind note.
- & at the end you said
that you hoped “good“ & not
rather than “harm” would
come out of the present
business for Miss Spencer
at the R. Infirmary.
Your kindness will easily
believe my anxiety about
the change in the “Rule”-
also that I beg to apologize
for venturing any opinion
in the matter, but may I
express the hope that the
old Rule may be left
as it was — and no more
restriction be placed upon
the discretion of the Matron
with regard to Nurses on
the Staff than the previous
approval of the House
committee — and if possible
only of the Chairman of the
House Committee

[At St Thomas’ we
have found that rules
practically identical with
the old rules have worked
satisfactorily for a very
long period
(1) Matron having the full
power (in practice she
consults the Secretary of the
N Fund in any case of
doubt).
(2) the Treasurer who is
the Chief Executive Officer
having the power of dismissal
of Sisters & Nurses and
in practice always acting
upon the recommendation
of the Matron & never
referring to a Committee
& that
But the Matron almost
invariably communicates
with the Physician or Surgeon
of the Ward, tho’ not directed
to do so by any Rule.]
& that good discipline so
much depends upon the
authority of the Matron
being maintained, as you
know, that you will
agree
& that we attach great
importance to the action
of the Governing Body of the
Royal Infirmary in this
respect which has taken
such a valuable leading
part in the organisation of
good Nursing.
2
I am so sorry that
your “term of office” is
over — as a manger.
Pray excuse this long
letter & this pencil-
I scarcely pretend to
offer an opinion but
rather to follow what I
believe to be yours:-
And I am sure we both
of us agree in “not harm
“but good” resulting
Miss Spencer as Matron

yours ever sincerely
F. Nightingale
Joseph Bell Esq MD
&c



Newsletter 2016:4

From Lynn McDonald, project director · June 8, 2016

Note: Some people who receive this email also get the Nightingale Society (occasional) emails, so will see the same information there. It is being sent to both lists as many people on the CWFN email list, which normally covers news items and academic material, will not know of the anti-Nightingale campaign being so successfully pursued in the U.K., which sometimes extends to the replacement of Nightingale as 'Pioneer Nurse' and sometimes lists her as one of two 'equal Pioneer Nurses.'

History Hoax Committee update

The History Hoax Committee advises us that the first nominations have come in: Boris Johnson (for his promotion of Seacole when mayor of London) and Jeremy Hunt (secretary of state for health). The nominator of the second gave an excellent explanation of his demerits:

For promoting the replacement of Florence Nightingale with Mary Seacole as the 'real founder' of nursing, through the department's programme, 'Heroes of Healthcare.' In erroneously omitting Florence Nightingale from her role as founder of nursing, public health visionary and pioneer in statistical analysis to improving public health and saving lives, the programme instead honoured Mary Seaocle for nursing, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson for women in medicine, Edward Jenner for medicine, and Nye Bevan for the healthcare system. All deserved credit for their contribution, but not to the exclusion of Florence Nightingale, whose quality and quantity of health impacts were far greater.

(It is not essential to provide a detailed explanation, unless nominating someone not well known.)

Unveiling of Seacole Statue at Nightingale's Hospital

A media release confirms the date of June 30 2016, at noon, for the unveiling. The event is private, invitations only. No royal personage is named as presiding - perhaps no one wanted to be associated with such a campaign of misinformation?

The media release reveals a new fake honour for Mary Seacole, that she was 'mentioned in dispatches.' Two military historians confirm that this is a wrongful use of the term. 'Mentioned in dispatches' refers to an official report made by the person's commander, for gallantry. The recipient gets an oakleaf on the relevant campaign medal.

Yet the Seacole campaign announcement states: 'She was mentioned in dispatches where her contributions were praised.' In fact, she was mentioned by the Times war correspondent, W.H. Russell, in a story. He, too, was on the battlefield, getting stories - neither of them was under fire, as the battle was over when they went out. He knew her as a customer at her restaurant/bar, which he left with an unpaid bill.

Selling sandwiches and wine to spectators watching a battle safely from a hill does not constitute gallantry worthy of being 'mentioned in dispatches.'

Another piece of misinformation in the Seacole unveiling announcement is that 'the British Army asked her to supervise nursing services at their headquarters' [in Jamaica during the 1853 yellow fever epidemic]. There were no nursing services at their headquarters, and Seacole's own memoir states only that she was 'sent for by the medical authorities to provide nurses for the sick at Up-Park Camp [Kingston],' but that she did not!


Newsletter 2016:3

From Lynn McDonald, project director · June 4, 2016

Note: Some people who receive this email also get the Nightingale Society (occasional) emails, so will see the same information there. It is being sent to both lists as many people on the CWFN email list, which normally covers news items and academic material, will not know of the anti-Nightingale campaign being so successfully pursued in the U.K., which sometimes extends to the replacement of Nightingale as "Pioneer Nurse" and sometimes lists her as one of two "equal Pioneer Nurses."

Seacole statue unveiling expected on 30 June

Those who do not follow the UK press, or nursing matters in the UK, will likely not know how far this has gone. This is an alert! A Mary Seacole statue is being erected, and the official unveiling will take place, at St Thomas" Hospital, London -- for more than a century the home of the Nightingale School of Nursing, the world"s first.

A reliable source informs us that the date of the unveiling will be June 30 2016, with a royal personage (not as yet unnamed) doing the honours. Shame on whoever that is!

The Nightingale Society will be alerting the media as to the fallaciousness of the claims. We invite anyone who can to add their own voice. Please note, if you see an article in a newspaper that accepts letters-to-the editor, please forward it to contact@nightingalesociety.com (Do your own reply! Let us try one!)

If you find this to be objectionable, as we in the Nightingale Society do, please add your voice. Simply respond to this email adding your name to the Nightingale Society list. You will get (occasional) updates on what is happening.

History Hoax Awards Committee

A History Hoax Awards Committee was formed in 2015 when it appeared likely that the Seacole statue campaign would be successful. A separate entity from the Nightingale Society (with overlapping membership) it has one particular goal, to expose the gross historical inaccuracies of the Seacole statue campaign. It will spring into action for the unveiling of the statue.

Anyone may nominate persons or institutions for the History Hoax Award, by email at contact@historyhoax.com or through the committee's website at www.historyhoax.com.

Persons: Name the person and why they deserve the award, i.e., what gross misinformation the person has disseminated.

Institutions: Name the department or agency and say what gross misinformation it has disseminated. Institutions include government departments, nursing organizations, nursing unions, broadcasters, etc.


Newsletter 2016:2

From Lynn McDonald, project director · May 15, 2016

U.K. Trip

I am back from an excellent two months in the U.K., giving talks (the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Assoc., Oxford-Brookes and Leeds), meeting with people with Nightingale interests, and acquiring new material (from a private collection of Nightingale relatives and at the Bodleian Library).

Nursing Week

Nursing week was recognized widely in Canada. The Toronto Star, the largest circulation newspaper in Canada, announced its “Nightingale Award” winner, “Nurse of the Year” Jennifer Keeler. The Toronto Globe and Mail had a short, very positive, item in its “Moments in Time” for May 12. My letter to the editor added a few bits of information, published on May 14.

The Globe and Mail, 12 May 2016

Florence Nightingale is Born

by Carly Weeks

May 12, 1820: Florence Nightingale was determined to become a nurse, though it was seen at the time as an occupation of the poor and immoral. She trained in Germany before returning to England in the early 1850s as the Crimean War erupted. Amid public outcry over the treatment of injured British soldiers, Nightingale was dispatched to Istanbul. The military hospital was filthy, and infection eclipsed injury as a cause of death. She ordered a thorough cleaning and was credited with reducing the death rate by two-thirds—though some historians argue it increased due to contaminated water and unsanitary conditions. After the war, Nightingale spent her life advocating for better sanitation and a host of other reforms that would help modernize health care. By the time of her death in 1910, nursing was regarded as a noble profession.

Letters to the Editor

Re: Florence Nightingale is Born (May 12)

Nightingale deserves an assist for bringing down the high death rates of the Crimean War (1854-56), but she herself credited the work of the Sanitary and Supply Commissions sent out to improve conditions. Even the best of nursing care is not enough against overcrowding, lack of ventilation and fecal content in the water supply. The laundries and kitchens she started perhaps did more good than the nursing as such.

The leaders of those two commissions, importantly, became her allies after the war to ensure that such bad conditions did not recur.

She undoubtedly saved more lives by the reforms she and they got implemented after the war, by doing rigorous research on the mistakes and promoting thorough reforms. She was elected the first woman Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society for that work.

The first nursing school in the world was named after her, and paid for by donations to honour her for her work. Yes, she did modernize health care, greatly improved hospital safety and always related nursing to broader health care concerns.

Lynn McDonald, director
Collected Works of Florence Nightingale

New material

The last newsletter reported 2 new letters. Herewith another recently accessed, to Robert (later Sir) Morant, tutor to the crown prince of Siam, at a time of unrest. Interestingly, she asks about land tenure in Siam, a great issue in India, especially in times of famine.

Private London Oct 20/93

Dear Mr Morant You are
so often in our thoughts
that I must needs write
a word. This is one of
the rough passages of
life—for you & for Siam.
Our whole sympathies are
with you. And we wish
we could have if it were
but one day with you.
But there is a better
Comforter than we—the
Spirit of Wisdom, Power
& Love—nothing is too
hard for Him. He gives us
the Spirit of Love & of
Power & of a sound mind

There is rest in the heart
of duty—a deeper rest
than any other. And surely
that rest should be yours.

I cannot write much.
But that you should have
peace is the desire of
all our hearts. And you
will be blessed yet.

Believe me

your sincerely
F. Nightingale

Dear Mr Morant

I am above all anxious not to waste your
time. But if you could in a few words
tell me what the Land Tenure of Siam is -
I meant to ask you when I saw you last.
But we were so hurried. [This is only for my own
information.]

Is the Crown the Landlord, & nothing
between him & the peasant proprietors?
as in Bombay & part of Madras?

Or are there the great Zemindars as
in Bengal with the lands let & sublet to
an incredible number of intermediaries, before
it reaches the miserable ryot at the bottom?
Or what? I suppose there is nothing of Village Communities?
and is the money lending rife in Siam as in India?

F.N.



Newsletter 2016:1

from Lynn McDonald, project director · April 24, 2016

Next Nightingale Society Meeting

The Nightingale Society is holding a meeting on May 11 2016 in London (9:00-11:00 a.m. at the Royal Statistical Society). People on this newsletter list who would like to attend, please say so (this is a breakfast meeting, so we need to know how many are attending; directions will be given): contact@nightingalesociety.com

Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Association

Several Nightingale scholars attended and gave papers at the large biennial meeting, held at the Royal College of Physicians in March 2016. Dr Laurie Gottlieb spoke on Nightingale and strengths-based nursing, Dr Hitoe Kanei on the ‘Nightingale KOMI Care Theory and System.’ Several other speakers mentioned Nightingale positively in their papers.

Nightingale Memorial at St Margaret’s Church, East Wellow

I will be attending, for the first time, the annual Commemoration Service on May 8. The vicar, the Rev Chris Pettet, is a new member of the Nightingale Society.

New material

New letters continue to appear, some of great interest. The latest are several at the Bodleian Library, Oxford — meaning that they have been there a long time, but only became accessible when the electronic catalogue was updated. Here is one to Robert (later Sir) Morant, tutor to the crown prince.

March 1893
Dear Mr Morant
We think of you in your
high calling of untold
difficulty — that of raising
a whole nation single-handed
— not as a Prometheus
chained to the rock, but
as one giving the sacred fire —
an awful honour truly —
And we pray you to take
care of your own health
& spirit, as you do of others —
spirits. To feed & to sleep
& to rest properly. What a
waste to cut short your
life which you must
prolong for all our sakes.
You stand alone — a great,
heroic self-sacrifice —
Don’t let it be a martyrdom.
We think of you & your
battle in Siam, as of
Henry V (the Greatest, simplest
noblest character in
Shakespear) & his Agincourt,
From which the old
chroniclers say, we may think
that his early death was
from dysentery, raving
to his sharing his soldiers —
food, their fatigues, too
much. Had he lived, he
might have been as great
in government in peace
as in war. Don’t be like
him in this, (When I feel
low in my mind, I take up
(Casselle’s) Shakespeare’s Henry V).
His whole life is one
simple ‘committing of his way’
to the Supreme Moral Governor
of the world.
Sir Harry Verney is well,
in his 92nd year, still bright
& active. Frederick Verney
is still suffering, I am sorry
to say, from Siamese fever.
But his spares himself a
great deal too little. He is
always working too hard.
She is the same genius,
Spirit of Good as ever.
Ralph went thro’ his Examn
for Harrow yesterday. He
was not well. We have not
yet heard the result.
Pardon me this scribble.
My health is worse — my work
heavy. But what one does
not do tires me more than
what one does.
Would that we could
give you satisfaction,
success, now such as is in
store for you; sympathy
we always give, the deepest
ever yours sincerely, in
high hope, Florence Nightingale

Another letter is to Lady Wedderburn, who provided Nightingale with information on the Rukhmabai case — both helped defend her. (Rukhmabai had been married as a child, and was taken to court by her husband when she refused to consummate the marriage — then an offence that could lead, under British law, to six months in prison! Rukhmabai came to England, qualified as a doctor and was a leading woman doctor in India.)

May 18/86
Dear Lady Wedderburn
I am so very glad
that you are able to obtain the
‘opinion’ For poor Rukhmabai
I hasten to return your nice
letter from her & also the
extract on the second trial
from the Bombay Gazette.
That she may yet be
successful I hope & trust
& that you may quite
recover strength is the earnest
wish of yours ever sincerely
F. Nightingale
Many thanks for the newspaper cuttings.


Newsletter 2015:5

from Lynn McDonald, project director · November 21, 2015

A Florence Nightingale Nurse In South Africa

Suzette Mafuna, a South African journalist now living in Toronto, contributes this note, at my request, on her mother:

Her funeral was packed with young and old nurses who came from all over South Africa to bury her. They each carried lit candles to symbolize the light that Florence Ivy Balakazi Nxumalo had brought into their lives. They wept bitterly as they paid tribute to their own Florence Nightingale, speaking admiringly about her dedication, her caring manner, her patience with staff and patients as well as her deep love for the nursing profession. As her coffin was lowered to the ground, the nurses blew the blaze of lit candles and planted them around the grave.

The deceased nurse was my mother who was named Florence Ivy Balakazi at birth. Nobody knows for sure why but the guess is that she was named by my grandmother’s employer, a wealthy Jewish woman who read books and who my grandmother worked for as a maid. When she finished school, my mother taught at kinder-garden but being just a teenager herself, she lacked the patience and discipline to deal with little children so she opted for nursing.

Following the necessary training, she gradually advanced from a junior nurse into a senior nurse where she blossomed. She worked hard, leaving home at 5am everyday to make it to work at 7am, on time to relieve the night duty nurse. Every day she took a 2hour train ride to work. Concerned that the night nurse should get off work as soon as possible, my mother never missed work nor was ever late for any shift. If she was working nights, she made sure that the patient’s report was ready timeously for the incoming nurse.

After my father died, my mother left us five children – ranging in age from 8 years to 1year old- in the care of relatives to further her nursing studies in a different town which had one of the few institutions that allowed for the training of black midwives.

She spent a year completing her midwifery studies and came back to practice as a senior nurse. The public and neighborhood referred to her as being “a doubly qualified nurse”.

It was only when we had grown up that my mother began to tell us stories about an internationally recognized nursing heroine called Florence Nightingale.

Lea Hurst visit, March 2016

Peter Kay, owner of Lea Hurst and a keen Nightingale supporter, has invited the Nightingale Society to meet at Lea Hurst. This is a wonderful invitation--he and his wife have restored the house as a family dwelling. (The Nightingale Society defends Nightingale when attacked -- you may belong to it as well as the Collected Works list, so you may see this announcement twice.) Please let me know if you would like to join in on a visit to Lea Hurst, Derbyshire -- easily accessible by train.

Proposed date March 16 or 17. 2016. The visit will take place only if enough interest is shown, and someone is willing to co-ordinate arrangements with Peter. Please indicate if you want to come, and if you can help: contact@nightingalesociety.com

People will be responsible for their own transportation costs. Lunch and tea will be provided. There will be both a visit to the splendid house, and a meeting, details to be worked out later. Lea Holloway is a beautiful part of the world.

Nightingale and Statistics

There is always something more to say! Herewith my new publication, “Statistics to Save Lives,” in an online journal. A local copy is availableon the CWFN website: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/short/ijsp-statistics.html.


Newsletter 2015:4

from Lynn McDonald, project director · September 22, 2015

“New” material

Every now and then “new” letters turn up, meaning old ones long buried in an archive or, in this case, a publication with no obvious connection to Nightingale. These two “new” letters are to Samuel Carter Hall, who, with his wife, writer Anna Maria Hall, worked to get the Nightingale Fund set up. S.C. Hall was on the original council.

The 1860 letter is, in effect, Nightingale’s report to him on the opening of the actual school, nearly five years after their work to establish the Fund began.

The 1887 letter, by which time Mrs Hall had died, is again a report back on the results of their efforts. Nightingale sent Hall her recent paper on nurse training, to show him “one of the fruits of your work, for now the training of nurses has extended to nearly every considerable hospital in the country.”

From William Henry Goss, The Life and Death of Llewellynn Jewitt, F,S.A., Etc. With Framgentary Memoirs of Some of His Famous Literary and Artistic Friends, Especially of Samuel Carter Hall, F.S.A., Etc. (London: Henry Gray 1889) pp 263-4

30 Old Burlington St., W. June 11th, 1860

My dear Sir I have no doubt that Mr Clough, the acting secretary for the ‘Nightingale Fund,’ has communicated with you as to the practicable measure which have been taken upon ‘Training Nurses.’ But I cannot bear that you, who have done somuch for us, should not hear from me about it--although I am unable to write to anyone else.

I enclose, for Mrs Hall, some copies of the Rules and Forms of ‘Entrance Certificate’ for the Probationers.

Is there any list of Subscribers to the ‘Fund’ which you could send me? I am aware that on the subject of the ‘Local Committees’ you have been communicated with. But I thought it might be satisfactory if I were to send these ‘rules’ to subscribers, especially country ladies. They might send us women to train.

I dare say you are aware that this is only a partial and tentative experiment, not employing the whole income of that ‘Fund.’ The “Council’ reserves to itself the opportunity of either extending this or, which I think is more probable, making to itself other centres of action.

With kindest regards to Mrs Hall, believe me to be,

my dear Sir,
ever sincerely and gratefully yours
Florence Nightingale


10, South Street, Park Lane, W. January 26th 1887

I have only heard, my dear Sir, from my sister, Lady Verney, of your request to me, and I make haste to comply with it. x x May peace and even joy attend you, for I know that you live constantly with the presence of her who is made perfect, as we trust we all shall be. God bless you and her. I hope that you are pretty well. May every blessing from the Almighty Loving Father attend you. I hope that you will excuse my writing so briefly, and in pencil. I am always under the severe pressure of work and illness. And how much work you have done for the world and for God.

I venture to enclose an article of mine on the ‘Training of Nurses,’ -- not for your reading, for it is too technical--but as one of the fruits of your work, for now the training of nurses has extended to nearly every considerable hospital in the country.

Again, God bless you.

ever faithfully yours
Florence Nightingale

S.C. Hall Esq.

Publications on Nightingale

Two books published this year have chapters on Nightingale (both mine):

“Florence Nightingale: A Research-Based Approach to Health, Healthcare and Hospital Safety,” in Fran Collyer, ed. The Palgrave Handbook of Social Theory in Health, Illness and Medicine. London: Palgrave Macmillan 59-74. (This gives Nightingale’s views on research methodology, health and health care, hospitals, her work reforming workhouse infirmaries and the relationship between her social theory and that of major theorists of the time, notably Marx and Engels and the political economy school.)

"Florence Nightingale (1820-1910).” In Margaret Pabst Battin, ed. The Ethics of Suicide: Historical Sources. Oxford/New York. Oxford University Press 515-19. (This relates Nightingale’s views on suicide, with excerpts from her writing on it.)

Please let me know of new publications with Nightingale material.

U.K. Trip, Spring 2016

I plan to be in the U.K. for at least two months next spring, for two speaking engagements/conferences and work at the good old British Library. Please let me know of any Nightingale related events during that time (March-mid-May)

  1. Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Conference, London, (March 12-13 2016), on Nightingale’s mentoring of leading nurses.
  2. Oxford Brookes University (April 19 2016), an anniversary of nurse training in Oxford (my talk is on the stormy start to professional nursing at the Radcliffe Infirmary--difficulties in getting professional nursing started were typical).

Newsletter 2015:3

from Lynn McDonald, project director · May 12, 2015

May 12 is Nightingale’s birthday and celebrations are held in many places. My own contribution is the posting of the massive data files of her writings, correspondence and publications, the background work to the 16 volumes of the Collected Works. They will be on the website from May 12. As well as the transcriptions, there is a massive names files, with biographical notes of all of her correspondents, and people mentioned in her writing. Key to finding one’s way through all this material is the Chronology, which lists for every day she wrote a letter or received one, with details on the correspondent and the archival source. (There is correspondence for most days, sometimes several incoming and outgoing.) Have a look. Comments welcome.

Thanks to the archive director at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, for sending me a scan of the title page of their copy of Nightingale’s Notes on Hospitals. Nightingale gave the book, published in 1863, to Dr John Croft in 1873 when they were working together on the syllabus of lectures for the Nightingale School of Nursing. The archive will be displaying the book, which provides a fine glimpse of the collaboration. Nightingale called herself one of Croft’s “warmest admirers” and “one of his most faithful comrades in one branch of Hospital work, that of Nursing.”

FN’s iconic Crimean War coloured charts appeared in The Times April 25 (thanks to Professor Nigel Biggar for sending the copy) as “Six of the Best Scientific Sketches.” Nice to see.

Montreal Jewish General Hospital

On May 12, I will be speaking to nurses at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital, thanks to Dr Laurie Gottlieb, scholar-in-residence, for the invitation. She and Dr Bruce Gottlieb are working on “strengths-based nursing,” with origins in Nightingale’s ideas, so this will be an opportunity to strategize with them about how to integrate Nightingale into the nursing curriculum.

For your amusement

"Royal Victoria Hospital
      02" by Jeangagnon. Own work (via Wikimedia Commons)

Montreal’s landmark Royal Victoria Hospital (pictured above) was vacated recently, a hospital on which Nightingale influenced the design. It was pavilion-style, on Montreal’s “mountain,” with a fabulous view. When it opened in the late 19th century, it was such an impressive building that it became a tourist attraction. It is now part of a “super hospital,” which Nightingale would have hated. Herewith my letter-to-the-editor (published 28 April 2015) on the story of the move.

Letter to the editor

Your story on the transfer of patients from the grand old Royal Victoria Hospital (Let the great hospital migration begin, Globe and Mail, April 25, 2015) mentions Florence Nightingale as the “inspiration” for its design. She was, in that it used her “pavilion” principle, which featured opposing windows to promote cross-ventilation and maximize sunlight in the wards. However, she had to fight with the architect, Henry Saxon Snell, on numerous details, including providing private rooms for the nurses. She thought his initial ward units “the worst I ever saw.” He evidently amended the plans, but prudently destroyed her comments. Amusingly, he even offered to pay her for her advice. Nightingale joked about the sum: recalling the organ grinder offered a sixpence to go away, who said “I never goes away under a shilling.”

It seems that medical science, thanks to discoveries in neuroplasticity, is now catching up on her sunlight advice, able now to show how precisely it aids healing.


Newsletter 2015:2

from Lynn McDonald, project director · April 25, 2015

Nightingale Commemorative Service, Derby

The Commemorative Service in Derby will take place this year on May 16 at St Peter’s Church. The address will be given by Sir Stephen Moss, who was director of nursing at the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary in the 1980s. This event has normally been held at Derby Cathedral, with a procession leaving from St Peter’s Church. St Peter’s now houses the fine Nightingale window, previously in the Derby Infirmary, and is a fine place for the commemoration itself. Thanks to John Rivers, CBE, chair of the Derby Hospitals NHS Trust, with Karen Hill, senior nurse, and the St Peter’s clergy for organizing this.

CNMF conference and call for abstracts

CNMF conference header text image

The 3rd Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Conference, from 12-13 March 2016 in London, is titled "Toward 2020: Celebrating nursing and midwifery leadership". Abstracts may be submitted until 31 May 2015: see http://www.commonwealthnurses.org/conference2016/Abstract.html for details.

Plus ça change….Conditions in war hospitals

A Canadian newspaper story on the honouring of two Canadian nurses who died of disease in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign brings to mind the conditions Nightingale faced at her war hospital, 55 years earlier.

The nurses, Mary Frances Munro and Jessie B. Jagard, were the first Canadian nurses to die in war. They were stationed at the Third Canadian Stationary Hospital, on the Greek island of Lemnos.

A 1925 history of the Canadian Forces medical services said that the hospital had no sanitary provisions, a precarious water supply (one borrowed cart) and no pails for latrines. Food was scarce–inedible for patients; “dust and flies completed the distress.”

The exhausted and malnourished nurses picked up illnesses from the soldiers–dysentery and acute enteritis were rampant (Globe and Mail April 20, 2015).

The story further explains that when Vera Brittain, then a British war nurse, saw the graves in 1916 she wrote a poem about them: “The Sisters Buried at Lemnos,” of which two stanzas:

No armies threatened in that lonely station,
They fought not fire or sword, or ruthless foe,
But heat and hunger, sickness and privation,

And winter’s deathly chill and blinding snow.
Till mortal frailty could endure no longer
Disease’s ravages and climate’s power,
In body weak but spirit every stronger
Courageously they stayed to meet their hour.

Mark Bostridge notes the influence the discovery of the graves made on Brittain, who became a leading British pacifist, in writing her Testament of Youth, in his Vera Brittain and the First World War: The Story of Testament of Youth.

Nightingale, post-Crimea, said that nurse deaths were a good indication of hospital conditions. Indeed.


Newsletter 2015:1

from Lynn McDonald, project director · January 8, 2015

Home birth at Lea Hurst

Congratulations to Jenny and Peter Kay on the birth of daughter Isabel Florence, at their home, Lea Hurst, on January 6, possibly the first birth there?? Mother and child are doing well, the exhausted father reports. Isabel Florence joins brother George (15 months) and older brother CJ and sister Kylie.

Nightingale and Australia

Australian newspaper coverage of Nightingale’s work was extensive. Some Australian papers had London correspondents, and many reprinted stories from British newspapers.

Australians were important contributors to the “Nightingale Fund” set up during the Crimean War, which then financed the Nightingale School at St Thomas’ Hospital, opened in 1860. All this got ample coverage, as did the eventual sending of nurses from the school to start professional nursing in Sydney in 1867.

In 1863 Nightingale’s papers on death rates in native colonial schools and hospitals were read at the Social Science Congress in Edinburgh. A Times story reported:

“Prince Alfred spent an hour or two in the afternoon in attending the meetings, and in particular that of Public Health, in which two papers of Miss Nightingale were read on ‘Colonial Schools and Hospitals.’ (13 October 1863 4B)

Prince Alfred, the duke of Edinburgh, was the son of Queen Victoria. The story continues:

The subject of the first was “Sanitary Statistics of Native Colonial Schools,” and the second, “Statistics of Native Hospitals and Causes of Disappearance of Native Races.”... In the opening of the first paper, Miss Nightingale stated that it was her object to show that statistics capable of affording complete practical results when wanted had scarcely made a beginning in the colonies, and to show that, when the Colonial Office, with great labour and no little cost, and collected, and she had reduced these materials, they were incapable of giving all the beneficial information expected.

The story gives details of Nightingale’s frustration with the data collected, but makes it clear that enough material was available to show that the sickness and death rates of aboriginal people in “native colonial schools and hospitals” were twice what they should be. She tried to get the Colonial Office to tackle the problem, and collect data routinely to ascertain success, but was unsuccessful.

Prince Alfred, who listened to the papers, visited Australia in 1867 as a naval officer, where he was the victim of an assassination attempt. He survived, nursed at Government House by the first trained nurses sent to Australia, by Nightingale!

Australian newspapers gave substantial coverage to the sending of nurses to Sydney in 1867. The process is related in Extending Nursing, vol. 13 in the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale. However, one important letter was missed (it does not seem to be in any archive), but was published by The Empire, a Sydney newspaper. The letter was to Captain Mayne, the New South Wales colonial agent in London (evidently he received a copy of the letter sent to Nightingale before she got her own--letters were typically months in arriving).

“Miss Florence Nightingale to the Colonial Agent General”
21 November 1866 p. 8

35 South Street
Park Lane, London W.
23rd September 1866

Sir: I am extremely obliged to you for so promptly informing me of what the government of New South Wales desire of me.

Would you kindly assure the Colonial Secretary that I am extremely interested in what he proposes to do, and that he may depend upon my trying to assist him to the utmost of my power. The plan which they propose is most desirable and praiseworthy, viz., to establish in the Sydney Infirmary a Training School for Hospital Nurses for the colony. The object is most important, and the colonial government will do immense good by so wise a measure. Whatever my humble efforts can do to second the plan shall be done, as I need scarcely assure the secretary of the colony. I shall, of course, do myself the honour of answering his letter as soon as I see what can be done.

(I have not yet received any communication on the subject but yours.)

Now what can be done is the first question. We have (I am afraid I can safely assert) no such training “sisters” ready. If we had, they would already have been engaged and employed. Our supply is so very much below the demand, even in England, that the matrons and nurses whom we train are generally engaged sometime before their period of training is completed.

It would be easy to recommend persons partially unknown and untrained. But this we have never done.

We prefer it, when governments or institutions send us persons chosen by themselves, to train for them. But this, it appears, is not the plan of the Government of New South Wales, nor perhaps is it desirable from so far.

Having shortly explained my difficulties, I would now propose that you should kindly call yourself on Mrs Wardroper, St Thomas’ Hospital, Newington, S.

I have already written to her explaining the desire of the New South Wales secretary, and leading her to expect your call. She is the valued superintendent of our training school, and matron of the hospital of St Thomas.

It is desirable that all the four “sisters” should come from the same training. When you have had your conversation with Mrs Wardroper, and when we have further communicated, I shall be able to see my way better. I earnestly desire this should succeed, but I have other resources if this should fail.

I am afraid I must prepare you that the matter will not march so fast as we desire it, or as the colonial government expects it. For I am nearly positive, as I have said, that no four such persons as we ought to recommend are ready, disengaged, but I will now only add that I will hasten the matter by every means in my power, if by a personal interview with you, when I return to London, as I conclude that you are a resident here, I shall be glad, as this is a matter very near my heart, and I can say, with great truth, that I am as eager for its success as those who have proposed it. I believe, however, that I can do everything by correspondence and by putting yourself in personal communication with Mrs Wardroper, or with others.

Pray believe me your faithful servant

Florence Nightingale
Any communication to the above address is forwarded to me immediately if not there, F.N.


Newsletter 2014:7

from Lynn McDonald, project director · November 12, 2014

U.K. Visit October-November 2014

I am back from a most interesting and useful trip to the U.K. Many thanks to all those who attended meetings, formal and informal, provided information and help. If you are not on the Nightingale Society email list, and want to see more, you can join the list (and read recent issues) at http://nightingalesociety.com/newsletter.

Gresham College Lecture

On October 30 2014, I gave a lecture at Gresham College, the oldest adult education institution in the world, established 1597, at an event co-sponsored with the British Society for the History of Mathematics.

Dr Eileen Magnello gave the (official) Gresham Lecture at this event, on Karl Pearson, a statistician who thought highly of Nightingale’s statistical work.

My lecture was “Florence Nightingale and her Crimean War Statistics: Lessons for Public Administration, Hospital Safety and Nursing” (see YouTube video here). It was an opportunity to show how Nightingale first learned the lessons of the Crimean War (with colleague Dr John Sutherland, head of the Sanitary Commission) and applied them later, with Sidney Herbert, secretary for war, and Dr Sutherland as her major collaborators. This was also an opportunity to go well past the material reported in Florence Nightingale on the Crimean War (volume 14 in the Collected Works).

A chart shows how the French Army death rates went up in the second winter of the war, although there was no fighting! British Army death rates went down—thanks especially to the work of the Sanitary Commission.

Britain made great changes in public administration in the post-Crimean years. Nightingale worked on them, and promoted safer hospital design as well as starting the first secular training school for nurses. Death rates went down in army hospitals and barracks after the war.

The lecture made no mention of Mary Seacole, the Jamaican businesswoman now actively promoted as the replacement of Nightingale as the founder of nursing and Crimean War heroine.

The first question after my lecture, however was why I had not discussed her work, as she had been “in charge of the nursing of the Crimean War”! The questioner wondered how Nightingale’s standards of hygiene compared with hers, an impossible question since Mrs Seacole ran no hospital and conducted no nursing (she ran in effect a club for officers, selling fine wines, champagne, food and catering their dinner parties). It was a good opportunity to make these points, but distressing to see how far the misinformation campaign has succeeded.

The claim this questioner made was a new one, for typically Nightingale is accused of refusing to employ Mrs Seacole, who is said to have then set up her own hospital (which she never did). Now Seacole is asserted to have been the superintendent of nursing for the British Army, Nightingale’s superior.

New Nightingale Letter

New letters continue to appear, this one on relief for orphans after the Franco-Prussian War. It was initially published in the New York Tribune, the progressive newspaper for which Karl Marx wrote columns. Then it appeared in the Huddersfield Chronicle (15 July 1871) and other British newspapers. Nightingale started receiving considerable attention in the U.S. after the Crimean War, and continued to. If anyone knows who was the “friend in Brooklyn” who contacted Nightingale, please say!

The New York Tribune writes, “Florence Nightingale, writing to a friend in Brooklyn in acknowledgment of a certificate of honorary membership in a Missionary Society, speaks in very feeling terms of the generous contributions made in England and the United States to alleviate the sufferings caused by the late war between Germany and France. She says:

I am sure it will please your society to learn (for are we not all brothers and sisters in the United States and in Old England—of one family and of one tongue?) how their English relations, the subjects of our Queen, in all climates and in all longitudes—not by any means only the rich but the whole mass of hard-working, honest, frugal people—have contributed every penny they could so ill spare. Women have given the very shoes off their feet, the very suppers out of their children’s mouths, to the poor sufferers in this awful war—not of their own creed—not of their own thinking or way of living at all—but in the freest spirit of Christian charity, all have given, every man, woman and child above pauperism. So general a collection among the “working classes” never has been, not even for our own Patriotic Fund. Poor congregations of all kinds: “Puritan chapels in my own dear hills of Derbyshire, national schools, factories, poor negro congregations in the West Indies; in London, ragged-school children who, having nothing to give, gave up their only feast in the year, that the money might be applied to the orphans in the war, “who want it more than we.” London dissenting congregations, without a single rich member, who sent their large collections; poor working women’s parties, who made up warm clothing for the sufferers int hat frightful winter campaign and refused to be paid for it, and then the children, making their little birthday presents for the “Lord Christ,” for Him to give to the children made homeless and well-nigh hopeless by the war.”


Newsletter 2014:6

from Lynn McDonald, project director · September 24, 2014

London again

I will be in London October 2 to November 4 on the Nightingale project. One event is giving a public lecture at Gresham College, on October 20: Florence Nightingale and her Crimean War Statistics: Lessons for Hospital Safety, Public Administration and Nursing. Gresham College was founded in 1597, in effect the first institution to provide adult education. The Gresham Lecturer this year is science historian Dr Eileen Magnello, who is speaking on statistician Karl Pearson (himself a fan of Florence Nightingales).

On the trip I will also be meeting with Derby city councilors--about celebrating Nightingales bicentenary, 2020-- and for a meeting of the Nightingale Society. Anyone on this email list who does not get the (occasional) emails of the Nightingale Society, and would like to, please notify contact@nightingalesociety.com.

Anyone who would like to meet re any Nightingale interests, please contact me at the same email address.

Nightingale materials

New letters, only a few, continue to turn up, thanks to people sending them in to me. Another source I have found to be useful is the Times newspaper electronic archives. They sometimes print letters not otherwise known of. They are a source also for what Nightingale did, sometimes not otherwise known of. For example, one story reported her heading an 1878 petition, with suffragist Helen Taylor (stepdaughter of John Stuart Mill) for a Bill for removing Electoral Disabilities of Women. She signed the initial one, and here again is on the list. In 1878 Nightingale joined with 2000 on an address to recognize the University of Londons acceptance of women as students (it was the first British university to graduate women, in the 1880s).

A wonderful story from the Crimean War in 1856 (after the fighting was over) reported that the lectures for soldiers Nightingale got started were well attended, 400 at one, which featured a magic lantern show (their PowerPoint); Nightingale gave the magic lantern.

Franklin Expedition

Canadians were pleased at the finding of one of the two sunken ships of the Franklin Expedition, which disappeared on an attempt to find the Northwest Passage. Yes, there is a Nightingale connection. Lady Franklin, who spearheaded the repeated attempts to rescue her husband and ships (they left England in 1845), wrote Mr Bracebridge when Nightingale, with the Bracebridges, were about to leave for the Crimean War:

"She has now found her right vocation and I feel sure it will be a blessed one. There was a time when I should have liked to be her second, but her example will arouse many dormant energies in womens minds."

Lady Franklin and her sister Lady Simpkinson sent donations for the nurses, via the sisters of St Johns House, Queen Square.

Nightingales cousin Benjamin Leigh Smith himself took part in one of the unsuccessful voyages to try to find the Franklin ships (by then too late for rescue). One of the ships he was on sank, but he and others survived. Nightingale was not only fond of Benjamin, but his dog Bob, who helped hunt game for the stranded survivors. Both Benjamin and Bob were invited to visit to tell of the experience.



Newsletter 2014:5

from Lynn McDonald, project director · August 19, 2014

Let your library know...

Summer Sale! The publisher of the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale has a sale on for the whole set, at the reduced rate of $1200. Let your library know if it does not already have the volumes (available in print and ebook).

New items by Nightingale

Every now and then new letters (that is, new to me) turn up in printed sources--with no original known of. Here are two published in the New York Times, as part of a full-page spread on Nightingale, with considerable (and quite accurate) coverage of her life and work during the Crimean War. The first is similar to a known letter to Sidney Herbert (in the Collected Works vol 12) on the formation of the Nightingale School. It shows that, as for her going to the Crimean War in the first place, there was correspondence with both Mr and Mrs Herbert (the role of wives is often neglected!).

Scutari Barrack Hospital
Jan 6 1856

Dear Mrs Herbert: In answer to your letter (which followed me to the Crimea and back to Scutari) proposing to me undertaking of a training school for nurses, I will first beg to say that it is impossible for me to express what I have felt in regard to the sympathy and confidence shewn to me by the originators and supporters of this scheme. Exposed as a I am to be misinterpreted and misunderstood, in a field of action in which the work is new, complicated and distinct from many who sit in judgment upon it--it is, indeed, an abiding support to have such sympathy and such appreciation brought home to me in the midst of labor and difficulties all but overpowering. I must add, however, that my present work is such as I would never desert for any other, so long as I see room to believe that what I may do here is unfinished. May I then beg you to express to the Committee that I accept their proposal, providing that I may do so on their understanding of this great uncertainty, as to when it will be possible for me to carry it out.

Believe me to be yours very truly
Florence Nightingale

The second letter was to the Abbé Legendre, almoner at a water cure hospital for soldiers, Bourbonne-les-bains, run by a charity, Oeuvre de Notre Dame d’Orient. The intermediary was Lady Fox Strangways, widow of the general killed at Inkermann and buried on Cathcart’s Hill. It shows Nightingale’s high regard for the French nuns who nursed during the war. Clearly she had visited their hospitals, but where and when is not known as there is no surviving correspondence on the subject.

Sir, I feel the warmest sympathy with you in the touching object of your work, and I am happy to join in it to the limited extent which my own engagements allow. I received, too, from the excellent religious ladies who were attached to the French army in the West so many tokens of their friendship, they gave me such assistance with such entire self-denial and lightened my hard work int he hospitals with so much devotedness that I shall always seek any opportunity of showing my gratitude in France, and to her brave children, whom I have been taught by those ladies to love and respect.

I am, Sir, yours truly
Florence Nightingale

One page of a letter also turned up on a manuscript sales website with praise for the Sardinian general in the Crimean War.

Let me know, please, if strange bits and pieces turn up on your screen!

Nightingale letters digitization

The Florence Nightingale Museum announces the availability of 1900 original Nightingale (handwritten) letters, a collaborative project with several archives, with more to come. Congratulations to all! The letters are available at http://hgar-srv3.bu.edu/web/florence-nightingale/.



Newsletter 2014:4

from Lynn McDonald, project director · 29 June, 2014

UK Trip

I have just returned from a month in the UK on the (academic) Nightingale project, and work with colleagues in the Nightingale Society (which defends Nightingale from attacks, which, alas, continue). Apart from archive work, at the British Library (my club!) I enjoyed some excellent exchanges with people working on Nightingale material, especially her statistics.

Derby Cathedral Service and Plaque

Derby Cathedral held its annual Nightingale service in Nurses’ Week. This year’s was special with the blessing of a fine Nightingale plaque recently installed in the cathedral. It says:

To commemorate the life of
Florence Nightingale
Born into a Derbyshire Family
Heroine of the Crimean War
Founder of the nursing profession
Pioneer of public health care
Reformer of army medical services
Guided by her faith in God.

It was a fine day in Derby. Nurses processed to the cathedral in large numbers. The choir of the Royal Derbyshire Hospital sang. Congratulations to the dean, Dr John Davies, and the chair of the Derbyshire Florence Nightingale Association, John Rivers, CBE, for their excellent work organizing this event. I gave the address, which is available on the website.

Lea Hurst

Many over the years will have visited Lea Hurst, the Nightingales’ Derbyshire home. When I saw it, some years ago, it was a nursing home. It is now again privately owned, and thoroughly renovated (up-to-date electricity and plumbing). What a treat to see it, with a family in residence that appreciates it!

I was a guest at the new owners’ first dinner party, in the Nightingales’ dining room, the other guests all also people with strong Nightingale connections. We started with bubbly on the terrace (a lovely evening, with striking views in every direction). Who said that Nightingale research can’t be fun?

Nightingale Material

New material, in some quantities, continues to appear. One I picked up recently is a letter that appeared in the New York Herald in 1884, which shows the influence of the Crimean War, and the concerted work to clean up the hospitals at it, on Nightingale all those decades later. It also shows the continued American interest in her work, and her desire that America, as well as England, “set its house in order.” Vintage Nightingale.

Practical Advice in View of the Rapid Spread of Cholera: ‘Scavenge, Scavenge, Scavenge,’” The Sanitarian, ed., Agrippa Nelson Bell, vol 13 114-15.

Paris, July 18 1884

In reply to an inquiry, Miss Florence Nightingale, the Crimean heroine, kindly sends the following to the New York Herald:

Sir I beg to reply to your note asking for ‘practical advice in view of the rapid spread of cholera.’

That our whole experience in India, where cholera is never wholly absent, tends to prove—nay, actually does prove—that cholera is not communicable from person to person.

That the disease cannot be ascribed to ‘somebody else,’ that is, that the sick do not manufacture a ‘special poison’ which causes the disease.

That cholera is a local disease—an epidemic affecting localities, and there depending on pollution of earth, air and water and buildings.

That the isolation of the sick cannot stop the disease, nor quarantine, nor cordons, nor the like. These, indeed, may tend fatally to aggravate the disease, directly and indirectly , by turning away our attention from the only measures which can stop it.

That the only preventive is to put the earth, air and water and buildings into a healthy state by scavenging, limewashing and every kind of sanitary work, and, if cholera does come, to move the people from the places where the disease has broken out and then to cleanse.

Persons about cholera patients do not ‘catch’ the disease from the sick any more than cases of poisoning ‘infect’ others. If a number of persons have been poisoned, say by arsenic put by mistake into food, it is because they have each swallowed the arsenic. It is not because they have taken ‘it,’ the ‘mysterious influence’ of one another.

In looking sadly at Egypt—Egypt where cholera did not begin anywhere along the route from India to Europe, but at Dametta, where no ship and no passenger ever stops, and where the dreadful insanity condition of the place fully accounts for any outbreak of cholera—in sorrowfully looking at Egypt and at Europe now, one might almost say that it is this doctrine of a special poison emanating from the sick man which it is thought can be carried in a package, that has (mentally ) ‘poisoned’ us. People will soon believe that you can take cholera by taking railway ticket. They speak as if the only reason against enforcing quarantine were, not that it is an impossibility and an absurdity to stop disease in this way, but that it is impossible to enforce quarantine. ‘If only we could,’ they say, ‘all would be well.’

Vigorously enforce sanitary measures, but with judgment, e.g., scavenge, scavenge, scavenge; wash, cleanse and limewash; remove all putrid human refuse from privies and cesspits and cesspools and dustbins; look to stables and cowsheds and pigsties; look to common lodginghouses and crowded places, dirty houses and yards. ‘Set your house in order’ in all ways sanitary and hygienic, according to the conditions of the place, and ‘all will be well.’

I beg to send you the best thing that has been written upon the subject—where also what can be said about quarantine is fully stated in the best manner—the lecture by Dr Cunningham, sanitary commissioner with the Government of India, on the ‘Sanitary Lessons of Indian Epidemics,’ at the beginning of the Medical Times, which I enclose.

The real danger to be feared is in blaming somebody else and not our own selves for such an epidemic visitation. As a matter of fact, if the disease attacks our neighbors we ourselves are already liable to it. To trust for protection to stopping intercourse would be just as rational as to try to sweep back an incoming flood instead of getting out of its way.

With the most earnest wish that America, as well as England, may ‘set her house in order,’ and so defy cholera and turn its appearance elsewhere into a blessing, pray, believe me

ever her and your faithful servant

Florence Nightingale



Newsletter 2014:3

from Lynn McDonald, project director · 12 May, 2014

UK Trip

I will be London for four weeks beginning May 13 2014, with two days of that time in Derby and Lea, Holloway (Lea Hurst, the original Nightingale home) and look forward to meeting with colleagues there.

New Publication

See the new article on Nightingale in a special issue on Women: Struggle against Prevailing Standards, in Groniek, a publication, in Dutch and English, of the University of Groningen. The English version can be seen in the short papers section of the CWFN website.

Nightingale and Seacole. A new book, Mary Seacole: The Making of the Myth includes a chapter on the Crimean War, using sources other than Nightingale or Seacole (mainly army doctors, officers and journalists) and one on Nightingale (with material not already published in the Collected Works). More information on this is available on the website of the Nightingale Society.

Communications expert Marshall McLuhan (the global village, the medium is the message) is one of the many famous persons who had interesting views on Nightingale. In a chapter on the telegraph, in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, he said:

Florence Nightingale...wealthy and refined member of the powerful new English group engendered by industrial power, began to pick up human-distress signals as a young lady. They were quite undecipherable at first. They upset her entire way of life, and couldnt be adjusted to her image of parents or friends or suitors. It was sheer genius that enabled her to translate the new diffused anxiety and dread of life into the idea of deep human involvement and hospital reform. She began to think, as well as to live, her time, and she discovered the new formula for the electronic age: Medicare.

Americans, take note!


Newsletter 2014:2

from Lynn McDonald, project director · 8 April, 2014

New material by Nightingale

Thanks to a friend, Diane Marshall, and a nursing colleague of hers, Adrianne Sequeir, for alerting me to the existence of Nightingale letters I had not seen before, held at Boston College, but the source that alerted Adrianne was a newspaper story. Do please alert me if you come across Nightingale letters in an unexpected place.

Nightingale kept letters to her by nurses, but many by her to them have disappeared. These letters are by Nightingale to Alice Fisher, then matron at Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge, who later introduced trained nursing to the Philadelphia Blockley Hospital.

Question: There used to be a “Florence Nightingale Oration” in the U.K., given by a prominent person and published in the British Journal of Nursing. Does anyone know if these still take place in some fashion? Or when they stopped?

Nightingale and Irish Nursing

There is a new article on Nightingale and Irish nursing, recently published (online) in the Journal of Clinical Nursing. A text version can be seen on the Collected Works website at http://uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/nursing/irish-nursing.htm.

It is a rebuttal of numerous articles and chapters by Therese Meehan which claim that Nightingale derived key ideas on nursing from the Irish Sisters of Mercy, during the Crimean War, and that they had pioneered high quality hospital nursing long before her (in fact, as the article shows, the nuns visited the sick to urge them to repentance and a good confession, for their spiritual well-being).

U.K. Trip

I will be in London, mainly, in May—early June on the project. On May 17 I will give the address at Derby Cathedral at its annual Nightingale service, at which this year they are also unveiling a plaque honouring Nightingale. I will be happy to meet with anybody while in the U.K. on Nightingale matters: let me know! lynnmcd@uoguelph.ca.


Newsletter 2014:1

from Lynn McDonald, project director · 12 February, 2014

Dr Lynn McDonald: short talks on Nightingale on YouTube

YouTubes!

I have been persuaded to make YouTubes. Herewith a link to a short one (3 min 26 sec) titled Ministering Angel of the Crimean War. More videos will follow, and your comments are welcome.

Students working on Nightingale

I was pleased to hear from a doctoral student working on Nightingale and mathematics. Please tell any graduate students working on Nightingale that I am often able to provide help on sources for them, from my enormous data base.

New journal articles on Nightingale

You may be interested in two articles comparing Nightingale’s work with that of Mary Seacole: one in November in the peer-reviewed Journal of Advanced Nursing, the first article (I know of) in a nursing journal to give accurate coverage. It includes a Timeline, with succinct entries on major contributions by Nightingale to nursing from over her lifetime. A PDF of the article can be accessed here.

Second, “Wonderful Adventures--How did Mary Seacole come to be viewed as a Pioneer of Modern Nursing?” in the Times Literary Supplement (6 December 2013) . See the article and replies here.

Nipissing University, School of Nursing

Many thanks to Dr Aroha Page and Dr Lorraine Carter for the invitation to speak to classes in the nursing faculty, and in the hospital and for the wider North Bay (Ontario) community.


Past Updates