Lynn McDonald, project director · May 20, 2013
Nursing Week and Nightingale events
London. The Westminster Abbey annual service of commemoration of Florence Nightingale was held May 8, sponsored by the Florence Nightingale Foundation. Congratulations to Dr Liz Robb and her team for (again) putting on a splendid occasion. Biographer Mark Bostridge gave the address, which was superb, notably linking Nightingale to the vision of the National Health Service.
A service was held on the same date at Derry, Northern Ireland, for which details are currently lacking. On May 18 there was one in Derby Cathedral, with the Royal Derby Hospital choir, and a procession of nurses with a band. The bishop of Derby in his address praised Nightingale’s ability to believe that “new things can be done.” The dean of the cathedral in his welcoming remarks noted Nightingale’s role in “pre-figuring the National Health Service.” Right on!
Natasha McEnroe, director of the Florence Nightingale Museum and I both spoke at the Gothic Warehouse, a historic canal warehouse now used for events, in the evening, an event sponsored by the Arkwright Society. Thanks to Natasha for the picture of the (temporary) Nightingale plaque at Derby Cathedral, shown right.
My trip, now near its end, has gone well, with visits to Claydon House, for the archives, and to Manchester to meet with senior nursing leaders, and small meetings with people with different Nightingale involvements, notably biographer Mark Bostridge and Indian specialist Dr Marc Jason Gilbert. Some new letters have become available at the British Library, always a treat, and a new letter at a hospital website surfaced.
Just before Nursing Week 2013, the NHS and the Department of Health announced another award named for Mary Seacole — this time as part of the NHS Leadership Academy’s professional development scheme. Three other health care pioneers are honoured with her: Edward Jenner, for smallpox vaccination, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman dean of a medical faculty, and Aneurin Bevan for creating the National Health Service. Nightingale is nowhere in sight, although it was she who called for quality care for all, regardless of ability to pay, the principle at the heart of the NHS. A Nursing Standard editorial on the programme takes the “pioneer” message one step further by calling the four “healthcare heroes.”
The Nightingale Society has written to Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary (see link here) to protest against the choice of Seacole rather than Nightingale as “pioneer nurse” and “healthcare hero.” This is not an objection to honouring Seacole, but to mis-stating her contribution. If you are willing to help fight this omission of Nightingale, let me know: email@example.com.
Condolences to Mrs Wendy Mathews on the loss of her husband, Dr John Mathews, a retired radiologist at St Thomas’ Hospital. Both were longtime Nightingale supporters and both gave briefs to the Lambeth Planning Committee in April 2012 on the Seacole statue planned for the hospital. Wendy Mathews is a former governor at St Thomas’ (and a retired physiotherapist), with a book on the hospital and much knowledge about it which she imparted on tours for visitors. Our sympathy to you, Wendy, and your family.
Lynn McDonald, project director · April 16, 2013
Sunday Edition is an excellent and popular comment programme on
CBC Radio, so I was very pleased to be invited for an interview
on Nightingale, with the Mary Seacole link and proposed placing
of a statue of her at Nightingale's hospital. Michael Enright is
a superb interviewer, and the research was well done. He
reminded me, before the taping began, that the last time he
interviewed me was on the Non-smokers' Health act, now 25 years
You can link to the segment at www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/shows/2013/04/14/defending-florence-nightingale. (NB: if this link has expired, there you may be able to access an alternative link through the menu on the Nightingale Society homepage.)
I had one day at Claydon House,
Buckinghamshire, to use their massive family archives. The
washroom advice on hand washing was a delight. (click for
Report from London
I have been meeting with people on Nightingale issues, as well as doing the usual work at the British Library on the manuscripts, preparatory to finishing the project and making the transcripts available electronically.
A letter each to the editor of the Guardian and to the Nursing Standard were recently published, reacting to the Francis Report, on unnecessary deaths in a mid-Staffordshire hospital and the minister of health's proposal to make all future nurses spend a year as an assistant nurse before training. Sledgehammer! with no evidence, as Nightingale might have pointed out, that this would do any good.
The letter, as published in the 10 April 2013 edition of the Nursing Standard, appears below.
Jeremy Hunt would benefit from Florence Nightingale's lessons
Florence Nightingale was a great advocate of prospective nurses getting hands-on experience in the wards before they began their academic classes. But I suspect she would be appalled by health secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposal for a one-year compulsory stint as an assistant nurse before training (news April 3). Miss Nightingale worked for safer hospitals, thought big and encouraged others to. But her vision, which was based on a bold faith, also required statistical monitoring.
An astute methodologist, she had a good grasp of the power of unintended consequences. When Miss Nightingale recommended her greatest changes, she always advised to start small.
First, make sure that what you try works as intended. Then compare the results of the new measures with those of the old programmes. And finally, the measures can be extended generally.
As in Miss Nightingale's day, administrators need to be trained as managers and always be able to walk on to a ward unannounced. For the most vulnerable in hospital, public opinion remains an essential safeguard. Miss Nightingale loved whistleblowers and was a great one herself.
She could be a resource for nursing leaders and nurses at all stages and on many issues, including this peculiar proposal from Mr Hunt.
Lynn McDonald, professor emeritus, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Lynn McDonald, project director · March 24, 2013
Volume 1 of the Collected Works, Florence Nightingale: Her Life and Family is now available in paperback, at about half the price of the hardcover volume.
Laurier Press now has the whole series available as a
package, with a special price, and options for libraries to fill
in missing volumes. Details are available on request.
UK Web Archive
The website of the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale has
been submitted to the U.K. Web Archives and will
probably be viewable on that portal within a month or so. The
current version of the site will, of course, continue to be at
the University of Guelph address (http://uoguelph.ca/~cwfn)
for the foreseeable future.
New Sources on Nightingale:
Hugh Small has published a second edition of his 1998 attack on Nightingale, Florence Nightingale: Avenging Angel, with the same title and most of the same material. He continues to blame Nightingale for the high death rates of the Crimean War hospitals, or still mistakes the bearer of the bad news (she published profusely on these death rates and who was responsible for them) for the cause of the bad news. In this new edition he has added an “annex” purporting to refute the analyses of Mark Bostridge’s and myself, which point out the gaps in his arguments. He now acknowledges that the death rates were highest in the Koulali Hospital (not the Barrack Hospital) but creatively asserts that Nightingale was responsible for that too! He was right after all!
Anyone interested in pursuing this point might like to consult Maria Luddy’s research on the Bridgeman group at Koulali, which reports that they were given control of it by Mary Stanley, with Lady Stratford as patroness, and started nursing there when the hospitals opened, one on 28 January, the other on 2 February 1855 (The Crimean Journals of the Sisters of Mercy 1854-5 p 142-43; the point is made also in Sue Goldie, ed., “I have Done my Duty”: Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War 55). Luddy’s edition of the sisters’ journals and notes also reveals much of their animosity for Nightingale, but is most astonishing for showing their total lack of understanding of the high death rates (or any death rates), or bad sanitary conditions, or the arrival of Dr Sutherland and the Sanitary Commission, which cleaned it up. None of these subjects gets a mention in their diaries and journals.
As noted in the previous newsletter, I will be in the U.K. March 27 to May 22, and would be glad to meet with people with Nightingale interests. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynn McDonald, project director · February 19, 2013
Nightingale and the U.K. National Curriculum
Good news! Florence Nightingale will remain on the U.K. National Curriculum, which means that either the leaked document that said that she would taken off it was wrong, or that wiser counsels prevailed and the decision was reversed. How well or badly she is covered remains a concern.
The Collected Works project was not involved in protesting this
(we are strictly academic) but the Nightingale Society, which
has its mandate the defence of Nightingale, did. We sent a
firmly worded letter to the Secretary of State for Education as
to why she should be on it. See this
letter on the Nightingale Society website.
In Canada and the United States Nightingale is largely ignored, but not disparaged. The aim now is to get her taken seriously--her principles are still good. My short message to Canadian nurses about her relevance today came out just this month. See “The Timeless Wisdom of Florence Nightingale,” in Canadian Nurse for February 2013.
The Toronto Star is advertising its 12th annual “Nightingale Award,” for outstanding nurses--nice to see the association.
I gave a lecture on Nightingale, the Crimean War and its aftermath to the Third Age Learning Association of Burlington ON, a generation of people still with a positive take on her. Refreshing!
U.K. Trip 2013
I will be in London (mainly) for April and into May 2013 for further work on Nightingale. The last volume is out--Hospital Reform, published in December 2012--however there is still archive work to do correcting and completing electronic texts. I am giving a lecture on Nightingale and Public Health Care at Canterbury Christ Church University on April 29.
I will be at Derby Cathedral for the Nightingale service there on May 18, and speaking later that day, with Natasha McEnroe, director of the FN Museum, at an event of the Derbyshire Florence Nightingale Association at Arkwright Mill, Cromford, a great historic site of early industrialization (the Arkwrights and the Nightingales of course knew each other)
While in the U.K. I hope also to meet with people informally about getting Nightingale taken more seriously in nursing and public health education. Please let me know of any events relevant to this.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · December 28, 2012
Volume 16: Florence Nightingale on Hospital Reform
Volume 16 came out on December 14 and my own first copy duly arrived at my door--it looks wonderful, thanks to the terrific work done by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. This, final, volume is Florence Nightingale on Hospital Reform and relates her decades-long work to make hospitals safer--for patients, nurses and doctors.
Let your library know!
With C-difficile, MRSA and all the unhappy statistics about hospital-acquired infections, Nightingale’s work is still needed. Medical science has advanced, but the need to cope with new crises, with scant information, is all too reminiscent of the conditions she faced.
Concern remains that the disdain for Nightingale (especially strong in the U.K.) means that nurses simply are not looking even at the nursing volumes. There has yet to be a review of either of the major volumes in the Collected Works on Nightingale’s nursing, The Nightingale School (vol. 12) and Extending Nursing (vol. 13). Anyone interested in changing that should let the press know (which you can do with an email to me, which I will forward).
Death of (Dr) Helen Mussallem, R.N. It was interesting to see the coverage of Mussallem’s impressive life--a nurse in World War II, Canada’s most decorated nurse, the first non-British nurse to be made a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, and an influential director of the Canadian Nurses Association. Mussallem was quoted as saying that the honour that meant most to her was being awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal by the International Red Cross.
People continue to send me interesting Nightingale material. I was delighted to receive a book from a Japanese colleague relating Nightingale’s encouragement of the pioneer of women’s education in Japan, Ume Tsuda. A college is named after her, whose archives include material on Tsuda meeting Nightingale in London in 1899:
There on a large snow white bed, with a red silk quilt lying at the foot, propped up by pillows and all dressed in snow white, a white wrap over her shoulder and a cap on her head, lay a bright-looking woman, with eyes full of life and intelligence, a face not so old or wrinkled, with a remains of its former beauty on it.
Nightingale asked her visitor about Japan and Japanese women, and was told about the state of nursing and future prospects for women in Japan. They shared both problems and hopes. Nightingale gave Tsuda a large bouquet of violets on her leaving, which is preserved at Tsuda College (from Yoshiko Furuki, The White Plum: A Biography of Ume Tsuda, Pioneer in the Higher Education of Japanese Women 96).
People on the Collected Works email list are invited to look at/sign up for the Nightingale Society, and its (occasional) updates. Its purpose is to defend Nightingale from attack (which attacks continue), especially the campaign to, in effect, replace Nightingale as the major founder of nursing. See www.nightingalesociety.com.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · August 3, 2012
St Thomas’ Hospital and Nightingale
A fine picture of St Thomas’ Hospital from Westminster Bridge, by photographer Millie Harris, has been kindly furnished for use in the Collected Works by the Gordon Museum at King’s College, London, thanks to William Edwards. It shows the new building (post World War II) and, to its right, the three surviving pavilions of the historic hospital whose design Nightingale influenced, and which was visited by doctors and architects from around the world as a model of safer hospital design.
For people concerned about the campaign to erect a statue of Mary Seacole on this St Thomas’ site, more information is available on www.maryseacole.info.
People who wish to defend Nightingale’s reputation, and who share the view that she, not anyone else, remains the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’, are urged to sign up to the new Nightingale Society (by return email). See the website: www.nightingalesociety.org.
Thanks to Dr Geoffrey Day, Fellows’ and Eccles librarian at Winchester College, for furnishing a scan of its original letter, from Balaclava in 1856. In the letter Nightingale tries to arrange to pay for the discharge of her young messenger, Private Robert Robinson, which is achieved in later correspondence.
At the request of a Nightingale relative, Robinson (who was 15 on enlistment in 1854 and an early patient at the Barrack Hospital) wrote his recollections from working for, and often accompanying Nightingale on her trips. It is a touching and informative document, now available on the website. You can read it at: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/sources/robinson.html.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · May 29, 2012
UK Trip 2012
I am back from an enormously pleasant and interesting trip. Apart from the usual hours and days at the British Library (and some at the Wellcome Trust) to check transcriptions and build up the data bases, there were several excellent meetings with people who share my concerns about Nightingale’s legacy and ongoing relevance to today’s world--and the ongoing attacks on her and her reputation--and now the concerted efforts at promoting Mary Seacole as the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’ Hospital.
I gave three talks on this trip, on May 17 at the Florence Nightingale Museum, “Nightingale and Seacole: Nurse and Doctress,” which gave me the opportunity of explaining the profound differences in their work and contributions. Alas! I would happily have spent the time speaking about Nightingale’s work itself, as few know how much she did as a mentor to nurses around the world, how her school developed from his rather basic start in 1860, and how much she influenced hospital design, both for purposes of reducing mortality rates from hospital-acquired infections and to improve patient care and nursing efficiency. This was the first time I was invited to speak at the Museum and I appreciated its hospitality and the lively discussions that ensued. Thanks especially to Natasha McEnroe, director of the museum, and to Sue Sheridan, chair of the board of the museum.
I was also able to attend the excellent presentation by Dr Anne-Marie Rafferty at the Museum on nursing policy issues on April 17. I also attended a talk on April 30 by Dr Elizabeth Anionwu on Seacole’s nursing practice. Anionwu, vice-chair of the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal Campaign, has been the major source of misinformation on Seacole. Dr Anionwu did not openly attack Nightingale in this talk, but she did repeat her claims (unfounded to my knowledge, and she presented none) that Seacole was awarded medals for her bravery, and made exaggerated claims of the risks Seacole undertook, and entirely avoided mention of her practical, commercial, work as a cateress in the war. She made references to doubtful sources of information, and when challenged stated that she was a retired nurse, not a historian, so would not answer questions as to sources!
I was in Derbyshire for Nursing Week celebrations linked to Nightingale’s birthday on May 12. The Florence Nightingale Derbyshire Association, with Derby Cathedral, organized a service of commemoration on May 12. Nurses processed from St Peter’s Church, which now has a stained glass window of Nightingale previously in the (old) Derby Infirmary. Singing with the cathedral choir was the choir of the Royal Derby Hospital. Congratulations to John Rivers, CBE, president of the board of the Royal Derby Hospital and the Florence Nightingale Derbyshire Association for excellent arrangements, and congratulations to all the processors and choirs, the dean, Dr John Davies, Canon Elaine Jones and especially the precentor, the Rev Canon David Perkins, for hosting such a meaningful event. I gave the address, which can be seen here on the CWFN website.
May 12 and 13 there was an exhibition and events at the Florence Nightingale Memorial Hall, the community centre at Lea Holloway, the village where the Nightingale home, Lea Hurst, is located. I gave a power point presentation on Nightingale’s legacy on the Saturday afternoon.
Nightingale Commemoration at Westminster Abbey
I attended the annual commemoration, which is an impressive event, and very well attended, from the lord mayor to a good cross-section of nurses and nursing leaders. The reception in the Jerusalem Room afterwards was not only a pleasure (the Abbey keeps up the traditions of its origin as a Benedictine Abbey). The Jerusalem Room’s medieval beams and ambience are well preserved. Henry IV died and Henry V was declared king in it (the busts of both are on display). Congratulations to Dr Elizabeth Robb, director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, for another successful even. Congratulations to it also on its inauguration of two Florence Nightingale research chairs (no, not research on Nightingale but on nursing, the sort of thing she would very much have welcomed).
Japan. The major promoter of Nightingale in nursing in Japan is the Nightingale Komi-Care Society, presided over by Dr Hitoe Kanei, dean of nursing at Tokyo Ariake University. The society has cross-linked the Collected Works to its website--many thanks. Dr Kanei tells me that my talk in Tokyo in November 2011 on Nightingale’s nursing has been translated into Japanese and published in a journal Comprehensive Nursing.
Otherwise. Yet another attack on Nightingale, using F.B. Smith’s Reputation and Power has appeared in the British Medical Journal, a favourable review of a 30 year old book, as if it were hot off the press with astonishing revelations of how bad Nightingale was!
A website to correct the misinformation put out by the Mary Seacole campaign is now available, and will be updated periodically. The website will also post on information on other nurses who deserve to be celebrated, whose inclusion as important contributors to nursing would also improve diversity in recognition. See www.maryseacole.info/
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · April 29, 2012
The Seacole statue
The meeting of the Lambeth Planning Committee on 24 April 2012 duly approved the proposal to have a statue of Mary Seacole, “Pioneer Nurse” prominently on the site of St Thomas’ Hospital, facing the Houses of Parliament. The statue is intended to be visible to Members of Parliament, although Seacole had no involvement with Parliament (Nightingale of course did).
Wendy Mathews (a former governor and physiotherapist at St Thomas’) and Dr John Mathews (a retired rheumatologist at St Thomas’) spoke against the site--not against the statue. No one was permitted to raise the fundamental issues of why St Thomas’, to explain that Seacole was not a nurse and never claimed to have nursed at it or any hospital. The intervenors had only 3 minutes each.
Several of us sent a letter to the Council urging that it send back the proposal to the board of directors of the Trust for genuine consultation, or hold hearings themselves, but this was not discussed (and we had no opportunity to speak).
One cannot complain about the process: the planning officials recommended acceptance, and their mandate did not include any of the fundamental issues. The Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust is to blame for having accepted the proposal without consulting experts, or anyone concerned with the hospital or nursing at it, or nurses around the world who see St Thomas’ as the home of modern professional nursing--thanks to its being the home for more than a century of the Nightingale School, the first secular nurse training school in the world, where so many founders of nursing in their own countries got their start.
The chair of the Seacole Statue Campaign, Lord Soley, spoke for the St Thomas’ site, and denied that any denigration of Nightingale was intended. No nursing organization, or any organization with the name “Nightingale” in it, defended Nightingale. We hope that they will in the future. The president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Richard Thompson, publicly opposed the site (again, not a statue anywhere). Many thanks to him!
The (limited) press coverage was as bad as it could be. The Evening Standard headline said: “Fight for statue of nursing legend Seacole.” The article correctly reported opposition for the sheer size of the proposed statue, but incorrectly reported opposition on grounds that it would “overshadow the hospital’s Florence Nightingale museum.” Hardly, for the museum is in a parking garage! But critics did oppose it for situating Seacole at Nightingale’s hospital, and labeling Seacole “Pioneer Nurse.”
Lord Soley is quoted in the article as saying that Seacole was “so beloved by the Army that they held three days of music and celebrations in her honour.” However, as the Times reported at the time, the celebrations were to raise money so that Seacole could re-establish herself as a storekeeper, after the bankruptcy proceedings against her were finished (Lord Rokeby “To the Editor of the Times” 25 November 1856:6F). Seacole supporters, however, routinely omit mention of Seacole’s primary occupation, as a businesswoman, to present her instead as the “nursing legend.”
Anyone willing to help with writing letters on the Seacole statue at St Thomas’ please contact me, email@example.com.
In the UK: Coming events
On May 9 I will be joining in the celebration of Nightingale’s life at Westminster Abbey, organized by the Florence Nightingale Foundation.
At Derby May 11-12 I will be joining in the events of the Florence Nightingale Derbyshire Association, which include, on May 12 (Nightingale’s birthday) a procession and memorial service at Derby Cathedral (where I will speak on Nightingale). Later in the day there is an event at the Florence Nightingale Memorial Hall at Holloway, near the Nightingale family home, with a focus on Nightingale’s work on nursing.
Nurses at the Royal Derby Hospital are holding an event and displays at the hospital on May 11, which I will visit, and meet informally with nurses (Nightingale got professional nursing started at this hospital).
A group has formed and will welcome people joining it from anywhere (using email) to continue this.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · March 29, 2012
University of Virginia Visit, Randolph Lecture
I was pleased to receive an award
from the Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry and give the
Agnes Dillon Randolph Lecture at the University of Virginia, in
Charlottesville March 13 2012. I also met with a doctoral class
on Nightingale's research methods. Thanks especially to Drs
Barbara Brodie and Arlene Keeling for the arrangements and kind
The award is named after a nursing pioneer, Agnes Dillon Randolph, granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson, who was not only author of the Declaration of Independence and twice president of the United States but “father” of the University of Virginia, which he himself designed. The trip was an occasion also to visit his (again self-designed) Monticello, a splendid building on a hill overlooking the university. On the trip I also visited Richmond, VA, to see the capital (again designed by Jefferson) and Chimborazo Hospital, just outside Richmond, site of the largest Confederate hospital of the Civil War, and picked up some useful information on death rates at it. Chimborazo was a hut hospital, built in effect on Nightingale's pavilion principle. Thanks to Joanne Peach for showing me around.
After Charlottesville I went to Baltimore MD, home of Johns Hopkins University, where the nursing was led by Isabel Hampton Robb, whom Nightingale mentored. Nightingale influenced the design of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, pictured on this page (a subject covered in Hospital Reform, the last volume of the Collected Works). Archivists and librarians kindly made the short trip very productive: there were new Nightingale letters to see, and excellent background information on the hospital and its designer, John Shaw Billings.
Drs Toshie Yamamoto, Shinobu Saito and Yoshiko Wazumi, nursing academics from Chiba University, Japan, were in Toronto March 25-27 to meet with me on their project, “Development of the Framework for Extracting the Positive Findings for Nurses in Modern Day from F. Nightingale's Work about Social Reform.” It was exciting to talk with nurses who know Nightingale material well, and see the relevance of her principles for today. We will be continuing the discussions by Skype.
UK Research Trip
I will be in the UK March 31 to May 19 and will be happy to join in any Nightingale related activities. I will be giving the homily commemorating Nightingale at Derby Cathedral on May 12, Nightingale's birthday. On May 11 I will join in on festivities organized by senior nurses at the Derby Royal Hospital, and look forward to meeting informally with nurses there.
Nightingale and Seacole: Nurse and Doctress is the title of the talk I am giving at the Florence Nightingale Museum on May 17. In it I plan to set out the fundamental differences in the work of these two women.
Recent newsletters have discussed the plans of Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal to have a massive bronze statue of her erected at Nightingale's hospital, St Thomas'. The campaign to support this has circulated an enormous amount of misinformation, both about Nightingale (derogatory) and Seacole (sometimes crediting her with what Nightingale did). Promised consultation by the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust never happened, but indeed the trust is guilty of producing some of the most flagrantly false statements. Many thanks to Mrs Wendy Mathews for continuing to stand up for Nightingale on this.
Please note that neither she nor I oppose Seacole being honoured, for her own merits, at a suitable place for her, which the site of the Nightingale School is not. Seacole never nursed at St Thomas' (nor anywhere in Britain) and never had anything to do with the hospital.
A website is now up with basic material on Seacole. More will be added, but anyone interested will find enough already there to explode the common misconceptions. See http://www.maryseacole.info/
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · February 24, 2012
Trip to Tokyo
My trip to Japan in late November 2011 was wonderful; many thanks to Dr Hitoe Kanai, her publisher husband Yoshihiko Kominami, and many colleagues and friends for invitations of great interest, professional, cultural and social.
I gave 3 lectures (with PowerPoint and interpretation) at a conference of the Nightingale Komi Care Society, one each on Nightingale's work (one overall on her vision and achievements, and one focusing on her nursing) and one addressing the attacks on her (fact, fiction and evidence, with lots of material refuting Hugh Small's Avenging Angel).
At this conference also there was an excellent panel of healthcare professionals, who made interesting observations of how Nightingale's theories are applied in practice. I met with the staff of the publishing company that puts out Nightingale's work and major works on her in Japanese translation.
I gave two guest lectures to classes of nursing students, one each at Ariake University and the Tokyo Healthcare University.
Trips to Mt Fuji, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara were arranged, one on a national holiday so that visitors to the temples and gardens included school children in uniform. The weather was wonderful and the red maples splendid. These trips included nurses, so that there were great opportunities to talk shop on Nightingale.
Publications in the Collected Works
Volume 15, Wars and the War Office appeared on 2 December 2011. Volume 16, Hospital Reform, is at the typesetter's, for publication later this year. It is somewhat different from the other volumes, requiring a great deal of research to fill in the blanks on Nightingale's influence. In fact, Nightingale gave advice on a large number of hospitals, in Britain, Europe, Canada, the U.S. and Australia, but there are great gaps in the correspondence. For some hospitals, published sources at least gave some information.
While this volume closes the Collected Works, and of course pertains only to the 19th century, I had an uncanny feeling of the same issues arising. Nightingale was fighting hospital-acquired infections when they were not called that. The glossy brochures and websites on new hospitals, as for textbooks on hospital architecture, feature "environmental" touches, fresh air and sunlight, gardens, lawns and roof gardens!
Agnes Dillon Randolph Lecture/Award
The Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry is honouring me this year by inviting me to give their annual lecture, named in honour of Virginia nursing pioneer Agnes Dillon Randolph, a descendent of Thomas Jefferson. Previous honorees include Joan Lynaugh and Patricia D'Antonio (and an impressive list); Christine Hallett was last year's honoree. The lecture is at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, March 13, where also I will be meeting with nursing graduate students.
My next trip to the UK on Nightingale work will be in April and May. I would be glad to meet with any interested researchers, and hear of any relevant events: firstname.lastname@example.org
Derby Cathedral Memorial
There will be a celebration of Nightingale's life on May 12 at Derby Cathedral, with the participation of the Derby Royal Infirmary and the nursing schools of two universities, Nottingham and Derby, St Peter's Church (which now houses a fine Nightingale stained glass window) and the Derby Hospital choir.
Derbyshire of course was home for the Nightingale family, and Nightingale herself not only sent trained nurses to the Derby Infirmary, but worked on the design of its new (in the late 19th century) building, recently replaced.
I will be giving the homily, and will hope to show how Nightingale's faith informed her work as a nursing leader and public health reformer. I am looking forward to discussions with nurses on the trip.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · November 14, 2011
The Good News: Next Volume Out December 6!
The 1060 pages of Florence Nightingale on Wars and the War Office are now being churned out. If you want it in your university or college library, let it know. (They do not order volumes otherwise.) Note: the UBC and McGill libraries still do not have the major volumes on nursing, 12 and 13, The Nightingale School and Extending Nursing, published in 2009, yet they have nursing faculties and Nightingale connections--anyone interested?
Peer reviews for volume 16, Hospital Reform, have come back, mercifully supportive. The last—and this is the last peer review for the last volume—was the best ever. The reviewer evidently appreciated my finding material no one else had. This volume required quite different research from the others, to fill in the blanks on Nightingale’s considerable influence on actual hospital design.
Pat Smedley, former chair of Friends of the Florence Nightingale Museum, gave a terrific keynote address to the inaugural International Conference of Perianesthesia Nurses in Toronto October 4, assuming the identity of an 1878 probationer at St Thomas’, and regaling the audience with a thoroughly accurate portrayal of Nightingale nursing of the time. Congratulations.
Orthopedic Nurses: On 25 October I gave a lecture on Nightingale to a conference in Toronto of the Canadian Orthopedic Nurses’ Association. Thanks to Bruce Weber, RN, for the arrangements.
The Bad News: The onslaught against Nightingale continues. Anyone willing to send a letter to Sir Hugh Taylor, chair of the Guy’s St Thomas’ NHS Trust, on why the Seacole memorial should not be placed at St Thomas’ please do so. Mine went by email with a paper copy a month later requesting an acknowledgment, and preferably a reply to my requests for evidence. I have received no reply to either, nor have other people who wrote. Wendy Mathew has led to defending Nightingale on this matter.
As explained in the previous newsletter, none of us objects to a Seacole memorial (a 3-metre bronze statue), but to its placement in the courtyard of St Thomas’ Hospital, with a tribute explaining that Seacole gave her life’s work to the early establishment of nursing, which she did not, and never claimed to.
Sir Hugh Taylor, chair
GST Foundation Trust
4th floor Gassiott House
Westminster Bridge Rd
London SE1 7EH
An Irish radio station did an hour “history” program on Nightingale on October 23, in which I was a participant, with holistic nursing leader Barbara Dossey, the director of the Florence Nightingale Museum, Natasha McEnroe, and Irish nursing historian Dr Theresa Meehan. All the incoming phone calls and texts were hostile to Nightingale. There were no questions about what Nightingale herself did for Irish nursing. Natasha McEnroe, who previously was director of the Samuel Johnson Museum, is amazed by the level of hostility she now sees--it does not happen with other historical people, she says.
Contact: I would be glad to get an email from anyone on Nightingale work, especially anyone willing to help in defending her: email@example.com
Back to the Good News: I am off to Tokyo to speak at a nursing conference (November 21), sponsored by the Japan Nursing Association, and the following week at two nursing faculties: Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, and Tokyo Healthcare University. I am very much looking forward to the trip, and the opportunity to meet with Japanese nursing leaders taking part in the conference. Japanese nurses are numerous and well organized, and Nightingale still is paid attention in nursing education. The conference has both lectures on Nightingale’s work, and the ongoing attack on her, and discussion by an impressive panel of experts. Thanks to Dr Hitoe Kanei, dean of nursing at Tokyo Ariake University, for arrangements.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · October 3, 2011
Volume 15: Wars and the War Office
Volume 15 is now in production. At right you can see a mockup of a proposed cover for this volume.
Public lectures and papers given
June 22, 2011: (at the end of my last research trip to the UK, and with thanks to Alison Macfarlane for making arrangements): “Nightingale on Nursing and Health Care: Vision, Achievements and Relevance,” to City University London, Whitechapel.
Sept. 25, 2011: “What Would Florence Nightingale Say about Canada’s Health," to the Inter-Church Health Ministries, Pickering, Ontario.
BBC Attack on Nightingale
Several informal meetings were held during my spring research trip to the U.K. to organize a response and alternative proposal to the BBC’s two highly hostile and erroneous films on Nightingale, incorrectly labeled “documentaries.” See the letter sent to the chair of the BBC Trust, co-signed by Tom Keighley, Alison Macfarlane, Eileen Magnello and Susan McGann. The response was dismal, the BBC claiming that its programs involved “a broad range of sources,” hardly! “giving a broad range of opinions,” in fact mainly between demeaning and diminishing.
Experts with positive views of Nightingale are routinely excluded. (Presumably we are to be blamed for “hagiography,” but I note that the Collected Works volumes all have to survive anonymous peer review, which the critics’ never did.) It happens that those of us who read her the most are impressed with Nightingale’s contribution--not the trendy view the BBC wants to convey.
A complaint to the BBC Trust got a tough luck response: use the regular complaints procedure. The Nursing Standard, however, did at least give the issue some coverage. There will be developments. For background, see this page.
Statistician Eileen Magnello and I met with Anne Marie Rafferty (then outgoing dean of the Nightingale School at King’s College Hospital), Rosemary Wall (also at King’s) and Natasha McEnroe, the new director of the Florence Nightingale Museum about the attack on Nightingale. I have offered to debate Hugh Small and anyone else. Anne Marie Rafferty is in on it too! When there is anything arranged I will report. (I have also told the BBC I would debate Hugh Small and any of their “experts” at any time.)
I will be in Tokyo in November to speak on Nightingale, invited by Dr Hiteo Kanei, dean of the Nursing School, and Dr Masuko Hayano of Tokyo Healthcare University. Dr Kanei, with her interpreter, visited in Toronto last spring to make arrangements. Japan has an enormous organization of nurses and a long and deep appreciation of Nightingale and her work, which is actually taught in the regular nursing curriculum there. Many books by and on Nightingale have been translated into Japanese. My short book, Florence Nightingale at First Hand, is being translated.
The motivation for inviting me was the arrival of a Japanese translation of Hugh Small’s attack on Nightingale (also featured in those two BBC films). I have been asked to address his amazing accusations, which I will refute, chapter and verse.
Meanwhile, a storm has come up in London with the proposal to erect a 3 metre bronze statue of Mary Seacole in the courtyard of St Thomas’ Hospital, the very site of Nightingale’s nursing school and the main locus of her 40 years’ plus contribution to nursing. The statue--the visual replacement of Nightingale as the symbol of nursing--is the logical end of nurses’ years of neglect of Nightingale and her work, and the actual attacks made on her in books and TV films.
Certainly Seacole deserves recognition for her contribution, but it was not at St Thomas’ or to British nursing (she was trained in traditional herbal remedies and called herself a “doctress”). The misinformation put out as “history” astonishes. If anyone can provide any relevant documentation of any work by Seacole in British nursing, please let me know. See my letter to the board here.
Florence Nightingale Museum
I had (yet another) disturbing visit to the Museum on my last research trip. The good news is that there is a new and capable director, with excellent background, Natasha McEnroe--to whom all the best. The negative or trivializing portrayal of Nightingale herself, however, sadly continues. (You can even buy a video of the BBC’s latest attack on Nightingale.) I have made recommendations to the director and hope to have some positive results to report before long.
Vol. 11: Suggestions for Thought
- Fenwick, Gillian, in University of Toronto Quarterly 80,2 (Spring 2011):361-62.
Florence Nightingale at First Hand
- Glass, Laurie K., in Nursing History Review 20 (2012):222-24
- Elliott, Jayne, in Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 66,3 (July 2011):403-06.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · March 23, 2011
U.K. Trip May-June 2011
I will be in the U.K., mainly London, for May and June to work on the project, and would be glad to know of any Nightingale events that might be of interest. Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would be very glad to meet with anyone who wants to discuss using Nightingale material in nursing, or who wishes to pursue the idea of establishing a Nightingale network.
On the project itself, vol. 15, Wars and the War Office, is in production for publication later this year. My short paperback (under 200 pages) is apparently now available at the Florence Nightingale Museum: Florence Nightingale at First Hand.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
More Nightingale bashing in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: The ODNB has yet another entry which attacks Nightingale's work in the course of praising another person's: Elizabeth Baigent, "Smythe (née Beaufort), Emily Anne, Viscountess Strangford." Viscountess Strangford worked with Florence Lees on the establishment of district nursing and was enormously active in hospital work in the Balkan Wars. (She appears in Wars and the War Office, vol. 15 of the CWFN.) Strangford also promoted voluntary nursing, by unpaid ladies.
Her two publications on nursing consist of a 17-page Hospital Training for Ladies: An Appeal to the Hospital Boards in England, 1874, which advocates part-time training for ladies, who might then nurse part-time, unpaid, and The Soldier's Wife as his Nurse, 1880, which recommends (apparently--I could not find a copy) that army wives be trained to look after their husbands.
Nightingale of course promoted trained, paid nurses, whether men or women, but not wives. Nightingale also worried about unpaid ladies undermining salaries for the vast majority of women who needed to support themselves and sometimes a family. (Well-off ladies should take the salary and donate it.)
This ODNB entry has Nightingale opposing the idea of army wives looking after their husbands, instead of regular nurses, because Mary Stanley "to whom she was antipathetic," had proposed it, although, by 1880, Nightingale had been promoting trained professional nursing for the army, navy and civilian life for over 20 years. The entry further states that Strangford's "reputation eclipsed even that of Florence Nightingale in the eyes of some contemporaries" (no names given). But her "name fell into obscurity," and again Nightingale is named. Florence Lees's contribution to district nursing is also slighted in this entry, where it is described as having been "probably more important" than Strangford's.
Query to nursing historians: is there any evidence for these statements? Is Strangford taken seriously as a nursing leader? Has anyone seen a copy of The Soldier's Wife as his Nurse?
BBC Film: The Beauty of Diagrams
The BBC broadcast a film on Nightingale's famous rose chart in 2010 (a detail from the full 1858 diagram appears at right). It refreshingly differs from its two other films on Nightingale in not bashing her, and indeed praises her statistical work. The film contains a number of factual errors, but unlike those of the other films they would seem to be from bad research, not invention. The film does bash Dr William Farr, who produced the rose chart and other area charts for Nightingale--it describes him as disapproving of such charts! The film even credits Nightingale with saving "millions of lives" with her vivid chart, which spurred people to action to bring in sanitary reforms. (Maybe she did?) Mark Bostridge gave an excellent interview in the film. But the film omitted a major point Nightingale tried to make with her charts, that the great decline in death rates occurred after the arrival of the sanitary commission, on account of its work.
Rosalind Nash Interview
In 1937 Nightingale's cousin Rosalind Nash gave a description of her personal relationship with Nightingale in a radio broadcast. Many thanks to Pam Rivers, Cromford Bridge House, for transcribing the interview and allowing it to go onto the CWFN website. You can read it by following the link here.
Thanks to John Bibby for tracking down the pamphlet that Nightingale saw advertised outside York Minster, on a visit there in 1852, Reasons for Leaving the Church of England. Nightingale bought a copy and had "some very spicy and refreshing conversation with a red-hot convert." (In European Travels (7:692-94)). Bibby has a link on his own website to the pamphlet available for any other would-be converts to Roman Catholicism.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale · Nov. 28, 2010
By now, the events commemorating the centenary of Nightingale’s death have all happened. Let me flag especially the many events held in Derbyshire, near the Nightingale home, Lea Hurst. (see picture at right)
The Derby Nightingale Association put on a whole summer programme of events, with walks, visits and displays. A service was held at Derby Cathedral on the actual day (and hour) of Nightingale’s death, August 13, the address given by the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Rev Alastair Redfern. (more info can be found here).
Thanks to John and Pam Rivers, of the Derbyshire Association, for their (and many people’s work) and the Rivers for some new photographs (see picture album on the CWFN website or browse thumbnails of the new photos at the foot of this newsletter).
A commemoration evensong service was held on September 26 at the Cathedral Church of St George, in Kingston, Ontario, organized by Deva Marie Beck.
On November 10 2010 Sioban Nelson, dean of the Bloomberg School of Nursing, University of Toronto, hosted a launch of her co-edited book, with Anne Marie Rafferty, dean of the Nightingale School of Nursing, King’s College, London, Notes on Nightingale: The Influence of a Nursing Icon (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press 2010). Two Toronto contributors were present: Carol Helmstadter and myself.
My own trip to the UK recently finished included a number of commemoration events. Thanks to the various academics for the invitations and enjoyable arrangements for the six talks I gave:
Sept. 29 2010 “Nightingale’s Nursing,” lecture to the Nursing History Group, King’s College, London (Drs Anne Marie Rafferty, dean, and Rosemary Wall, research fellow)
Oct. 7 2010 “Florence Nightingale: Statistics for Saving Lives,” keynote address to the Royal Statistical Society, London (Alison Macfarlane, FRSS)
Oct. 13 2010 “Florence Nightingale on India,” colloquium, School of Oriental and African Studies, London (Dr Manjeet Ramgotra)
Oct. 14 2010 “Florence Nightingale’s Religious Motivation and Social Reform,” lecture, Christchurch, University of Oxford (Regius Professor Nigel Biggar)
Oct. 21 2010 “Florence Nightingale: The Enduring Legacy,” Chester Literature Festival (Dr Emma Rees)
Oct. 22 2010 “Florence Nightingale: One Hundred Years Later,” Chesterfield, UNESCO World Heritage Site Lecture (Derby Nightingale Association)
City of Derby mini-gallery:
Did you know that the city of Derby has three statues of Nightingale? There is a Nightingale St., a Nightingale pub and a Nightingale Fish Bar.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale; September 8, 2010
Centenary of Nightingale’s Death
August 13, 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s death. Conferences too numerous to mention are going on all over, and there are many new publications. Congratulations to organizers, authors and editors!
For the conference on September 14-15 at Windsor , sponsored by the American Association for the History of Nursing and the European Nursing History Group, I have sent a short contribution to the debate on Nightingale’s influence, which can be seen in the "Nursing and Health Care" section of the CWFN website. Christine Hallett, the conference organizer, will present it on my behalf (with a recording and a PowerPoint).
In the Collected Works, Volume 14, The Crimean War is in final page proofs and visuals are almost done.
Trip to U.K.
My next trip to the U.K. will be September 20 through October, with a number of interesting speaking engagements:
- September 29: a seminar to a nursing history group, at King’s College, London, Waterloo campus, organized by Dr Rosemary Wall, on Nightingale’s nursing, with a discussion organized by Dr Anne-Marie Rafferty, on integrating Nightingale material into contemporary teaching
- October 7: to the Royal Statistical Society, London, Florence Nightingale: Statistics to Save Lives
- October 13: at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, Nightingale on India: Health Care, Women and Independence
- October 21: Chester Literary Festival, Florence Nightingale As Seen a Century Later
- October 22: Chesterfield, Derwent Valley World Heritage Site, Nightingale: The Enduring Legacy
Otherwise I will be doing archive work for the last volumes, and will be happy to meet with authors and students interested in Nightingale research.
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research
Dr Laurie Gottlieb, professor of nursing at McGill University, and editor of the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, has an editorial on my work and the Collected Works project. The issue also lists 42 recent publications on Nightingale. Might I say that the editorial is flattering? and makes some good points for nurses. This is a welcome breakthrough in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal. Now if it (and other nursing journals) would review some of the volumes! And if word about the project could get out to the wider nursing world, that would be a great help, too.
Jennifer Cornick is doing an M.A. thesis in philosophy at Saint Paul University, Ottawa, on the connections between Nightingale and John Stuart Mill, using material from the Collected Works, which is as it should be!
Congratulations to the Reynolds Library, University of Alabama at Birmingham, for putting their excellent collection of letters on their website.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale; July 14, 2010
Herewith a (brief) summer update on the project. Volume 15, Wars and the War Office has gone into production, for publication in 2011. I am now working on Volume 16, Hospital Reform, the last in the series. Amazingly, the end is in site!
Congratulations to Jean-Jacques Suurmond, on the publication of a new book on Nightingale’s spirituality, in Dutch, to be presented on September 10 at the Florence Nightingale Institut in the Netherlands --
Jean-Jacques Suurmond, De Spiritualiteit van Florence Nightingale, Meinema.
Congratulations to Sioban Nelson and Anne Marie Rafferty on the publication of their edited, peer-reviewed book (a slim 172 pages) -- Notes on Nightingale: The Influence and Legacy of a Nursing Icon. Ithaca NY: ILR Press (an imprint of Cornell University Press). Available in paperback and hard cover. Carol Helmstadter’s article on Nightingale’s Crimean War work is a particularly fine piece of research, a significant addition to the literature.
Helping the Americans on Health Care
Lynn McDonald, "What Would Nightingale Say About Healthcare in the U.S. Today?" in Nursing Spectrum, June 29, 2010. http://news.nurse.com/article/20100629/NATIONAL02/100628012/-1/frontpage
There are some new pictures in the “Picture Album.” The picture at right is of Embley Park, the Nightingale home in Wellow, Hampshire, the gift of Hampshire Collegiate Institute.
Pictures welcome, especially on hospitals Nightingale was connected with. Thanks to Janet Whitehead for a picture of Lincoln County Hospital, now about to tumble to the ground, but a model hospital in its day.
Information on new letters always welcome. There are more out there, hidden away in attics and hospital archives.
Noted in the last newsletter
Louise Penner’s new book, Victorian Medicine and Social Reform: Florence Nightingale among the Novelists, does just what I have hoped authors would do with the Collected Works material. Penner used the published volumes, and pre-publication material I gave her electronically, for a new analysis of Nightingale’s work and influence. She looked at what influenced Nightingale and whom she influenced. She developed some interesting interpretations of Nightingale’s writing, especially on India and Poor Law reform, comparing it with that of the “Condition of England” novelists.
The result is a very original book, of interest both to people whose focus is history or social science, and to specialists in 19th century English literature.
Lynn McDonald, editor, Collected Works of Florence Nightingale; May 26, 2010
I am back from nearly three months’ work in London, mainly at the British Library, Wellcome Trust and London Metropolitan Archives. It was great to meet with other Nightingale researchers and authors.
Hugh Small hosted a dinner in March, with India expert Dr Jharna Gourlay and Tom and Amanda Keighley (both are both priests and nurses). Hugh also showed us a new acquisition of a Nightingale book and wonderful covering letter.
I hosted a gathering with Dr Susan McGann (archivist, Royal College of Nurses), Dr Christine Hallett (nursing historian, University of Manchester) and Hugh Small. This second meeting was focused on following up on the bad coverage of Nightingale by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the BBC (it has three films now with inaccurate, nasty coverage of Nightingale).
I also had an excellent meeting with biographer Mark Bostridge (at the good old British Library) and one also with nursing historian Dr Robert Dingwall. The trip included a call at Continuum Publishing, publisher of my new (short) book, Florence Nightingale at First Hand, and a meeting with its director, Robin Baird-Smith.
May 12 Celebration of Nightingale’s Birthday
The Florence Nightingale Foundation put on its annual celebration at Westminster Abbey on May 12, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu giving the address. Tom Keighley was honoured with a role as carrier of the Nightingale lamp. The occasion also marked the retirement of its director, Mary Spink, and the appointment of Dr Elizabeth Robb as her successor. (A thank you to Mary Spink for years of dedicated work and all good wishes to Elizabeth Robb as she takes on the challenge.)
Very special this year was the dedication of a “Nightingale Chapel,” formerly the “Nurses’ Chapel,” dedicated to nurses after World War II. The service of dedication, 8:00 a.m. on May 12, was conducted by the dean of the abbey, the Very Reverend John Hall, who showed a fine understanding not only of Nightingale’s faith, but her high goals of a new, trained, profession of nursing. Thanks to Tom Keighley for doing the background work to make this possible. When next in London, visit the Nightingale Chapel at the abbey.
Congratulations to authors of two new books on Nightingale (both of which used material from the Collected Works). For Louise Penner, I provided material from my transcription data base and files of people with whom Nightingale corresponded, and whose books she read, bought and gave to libraries. (I make this offer to other scholars as well, to provide unpublished data base letters and information pertinent to their research.) I was pleased to be able to attend the launch of Anthony Sattin’s book, at a fine book store in Marylebone High Street.
Louise Penner, Victorian Medicine and Social Reform: Florence Nightingale among the Novelists. New York: Macmillan Palgrave 2010 (193 page)
Anthony Sattin, A Winter on the Nile: Florence Nightingale, Gustave Flaubert and the Temptations of Egypt. London: Hutchinson 2010 (291 pages)
On the project itself:
Volume 15, War Office and Other Wars, has gone through peer review, and will be going into production soon. Volume 14, Crimean War, is at the typesetter’s.
Thanks to Professor Rainer Schlösser, of the German Red Cross, for providing a scan of (to me new) Nightingale letter.
The first review of my Florence Nightingale at First Hand came out in the Church Times, by the Reverend Dame Sarah Mulally (now a priest, formerly a high ranking nurse), “The lady’s not for malingering” April 23 2010; the Church Times also published my reply May 7.
Next London trip
Two very nice speaking invitations have prompted me to come to the UK in the autumn (which will also give the opportunity to do archival work not finished on the last trip). I will be speaking on Nightingale and statistics at a meeting early October of the Royal Statistical Society in London. (Nightingale was the first woman member.
October 22 is the (inaugural) World Heritage Site Lecture, on Nightingale, in Chesterfield. The World Heritage Site, designated in 2001, includes the Derwent Valley where the Nightingale home, Lea Hurst, is located. The site showcases the industrial revolution in the area, a subject of great interest to Nightingale. The organizers have included a wonderful visit to Cromford, near Lea Hurst, and the home of a favourite relative, great aunt Evans.
Report from London March 30, by Lynn McDonald
Hampshire and Embley Park
Many thanks to the principal, Hector MacDonald, and history teacher Dr Russ Foster, for all their arrangements for my visit March 17 to Hampshire Collegiate School, which is at the Nightingale family home, Embley Park. I gave a lecture March 17, and had the great pleasure of seeing the splendid house, sitting in the old drawing room and walking over the grounds. The school now has 800 pupils, in a new building discreetly located so as not to detract from the beauty of the old house. The outside view of it is disturbed only by the addition of two (fine, delicate) wrought-iron fire escapes. The upstairs rooms are used by boarders. The school gave me a fine picture of the old house, which will be on display in Toronto at the end of this trip.
The photo to the right is how it looks now, not the artist's version!
Also while in Hampshire I tried to see the old Winchester Infirmary (the Royal Hampshire County Hospital), built according to Nightingale’s principles—she corrected the plans numerous times and agitated for a complete new building on a new site—which she got. Many new buildings have been added to the site, but the building put up in the 1860s is still there and in use. Alas, thanks to a virus going around hospitals in the region visitors were discouraged, and frankly warned off with the threat of diarrhea and vomiting! (I did not go in.)
On a visit to Lincoln I had the chance to see the old Lincoln County Infirmary, whose plans Nightingale went over and corrected. That lovely building is now boarded up and looks likely to be demolished.
A meeting is to be held in London of people interested in Nightingale and coverage of her, notably in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. This will at Hugh Small’s April 28. If anyone else who would like to take part is in the area, please let me know. email@example.com
Otherwise the work goes well at the British Library, the Wellcome Library and the Royal Institute of British Architects (that for the last volume of the series, Hospital Reform).
Hugh Small writes:
I hope you might be interested in my article summarising the history of Nightingale’s lost diaries, which I have posted on my web site in the hope that it might prompt their discovery. Also my online version of Sue Goldie’s Calendar of the Letters of Florence Nightingale may be of some use. My intention is to make the web site (see www.hugh-small.co.uk) a repository of serious research on FN. Feeds are available to inform people by email or RSS when new material is posted, which I hope will be about once a month in this centenary year.
January 28, 2010 Update
The source list on the CWFN website has been updated. Have a look! http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/sources/index.html.
The search is on now for missing letters about hospital reform, for volume 16. Nightingale often commented on hospital plans, severely in most cases one suspects. No wonder architects did not want her letters to them to be read. But references remain in correspondence, e.g., that she had sent 8 pages, or 12 pages, on such-and-such hospital to the architect. Any help in locating such letters would be greatly appreciated.
I will be in the UK for all of March-April 2010, mainly working in London, accessible as usual through my university email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
People have been asking me when I will write a short book (usually they say a biography) on Nightingale. No biography is in mind, but there will be an announcement soon about a short book on Nightingale, of course based on the material gathered for the Collected Works.
There is more on the strange case of Monica Baly’s entry on Nightingale in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Thanks to Hugh Small for alerting me to the existence of Baly’s original article, and correspondence on changes to it, at the Royal College of Nursing Archives in Edinburgh (and to both him and archivist Dr Susan McGann for sending scans). Several scholars protested the inaccuracies of the entry when it appeared in 2004. The ODNB is a highly regarded source and frequently used--available both in print and online through libraries. Hugh Small and others (myself included) got it to make some changes (in the online edition) to remove gross inaccuracies, but the entry remains largely what it was when it first appeared. Baly wrote it at the end of her career, when she had come to accept much of the negativity of F.B. Smith’s Reputation and Power and left behind her own earlier, very positive, interpretation. F.B. Smith’s book is cited no less than 16 times in the entry, far more than the accurate and comprehensive E.T. Cook.
The then editor of the ODNB, H.C.G. Matthew, appears as the junior author of the entry, for having made changes to it after Baly’s death. Baly was specifically told that there was no “need to be defensive about the ‘shortcomings’ of a woman such as Nightingale.” Yet she had condemned the Nightingale School as a failure, and described Nightingale’s methods as ruthless. (One wonders if requests for “shortcomings” were made of the writers of the highly flattering entry on Charles Darwin.) Having dismissed the school, Baly simply did not discuss its work or achievements. A very fat Volume 12 in the Collected Works, The Nightingale School, shows what it did in its first 40 years of operation, and an equally fat Volume 13, Extending Nursing, shows its influence worldwide. Material is not lacking.
Baly was also asked by the ODNB to discuss F.B. Smith explicitly, although the editors did not want her “to take the F.B. Smith approach.” In fact her qualified approval of Smith was removed, that he had started “with the premise that Nightingale was motivated by the urge for power,” crediting him with producing “evidence to support it,” failing to mention that his cited facts often do not bear out what he claimed for them, and sometimes said the opposite. This was replaced with lavish praise: “Barry Smith’s striking study (1982) stripped away the iconic aspects of the Nightingale legend to examine the remarkable network of manipulation (mostly by letter) by which she sought to impose her will and achieve her objectives.” Again there is no mention of Smith’s factual errors. I have asked the current ODNB editor, Dr Lawrence Goldman, to correct these errors.
In thanking Hugh Small for the crucial information I should mention that I do not agree with his interpretation of Nightingale’s Crimean War work, and will show why in volume 14, The Crimean War. Our differences are those of scholars and our sources (mine so much more extensive!). I very much appreciate him as an honourable and helpful colleague in the work of making Florence Nightingale known.
An update from Lynn McDonald, project director: June 5 2009
Florence Nightingale’s Suggestions for Thought has intrigued readers from feminist-philosopher J.S. Mill (who used it in his On the Subject of Women) to the latest generation of women’s activists. Although selections from this long work have been published, Lynn McDonald is the first editor to work through the numerous surviving drafts of Nightingale’s writing and present it as a complete volume. Suggestions for Thought contains two early attempted novels, draft sermons, and a lengthy fictional dialogue featuring St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, the American evangelical Jacob Abbott, and British agnostic Harriet Martineau (with cameo appearances by Protestant reformer John Calvin and the poet Shelley) all against an unnamed “M.S.”
The most famous section of Suggestions for Thought is the essay “Cassandra,” famous as a rant against the family for stifling women’s aspirations. Here the printed text is shown with the original novel draft alongside. McDonald’s introductions to each section provide historical context and Nightingale’s later views of the work.
Lynn McDonald "Florence Nightingale and European wars: from the Crimean to the Franco-Prussian War." in a Dutch journal, Leidschrift Historisch Tijdscrift. 2007. a special issue on European wars.