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Nightingale, Florence

Florence Nightingale

Born: May 12, 1820
Florence, Italy
Died: August 13, 1910
London, England

English nurse

The English nurse Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing and made outstanding contributions to the knowledge and improvement of public health.

Early years and study

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820; she was named after the city of her birth. Her father, William E. Nightingale, was a wealthy landowner who had inherited an estate in Derbyshire, England. Like many members of the wealthy class, he and Florence's mother, Fanny, dedicated themselves to the pursuit of active social lives. Florence and her sister, Parthenope, were tutored by their father in languages, mathematics, and history. Though Florence was tempted by the idea of a brilliant social life and marriage, she also wanted to achieve independence, importance in some field of activity, and obedience to God through service to society.

In 1844 Nightingale decided that she wanted to work in hospitals. Her family objected strongly to her plan; hospital conditions at that time were known to be terrible, and nurses were untrained and thought to be of questionable morals. Ignoring all resistance, Nightingale managed to visit some hospitals and health facilities. She then received permission from her parents to spend a few months at Kaiserworth, a German training school for nurses and female teachers. In 1853 she became superintendent of the London charity-supported Institution for Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances. This opportunity allowed her to become independent from her family and also to try out new ideas in organizing and managing an institution, conducted in a scientific, nonreligious setting.

War efforts

In October of 1854 Nightingale organized a party of thirty-eight nurses, mostly from different religious orders, for service in the Crimean War (185356), in which Great Britain, France, and Sardinia fought against Russian expansion in Europe. The nurses arrived at Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in November. Conditions at the British base hospital at Scutari (now Uskudar, Turkey) were awful and grew steadily worse as the number of sick and wounded soldiers rapidly increased. The British army did not have enough medical services and used what it did have poorlya confusing and complicated supply system actually cut off deliveries to the patients. The Barrack Hospital, where Nightingale and her nurses worked and lived, was built on a massive cesspool (an underground area into which liquid waste flows), which poisoned the water and even the building itself. The general attitude was that the common soldier was a drunken brute on whom all comforts would be wasted.

Nightingale saw that her first task was to get the military doctors to accept her and the other nurses. Her determined personality, combined with the continuing arrival of the newly sick and wounded, soon brought this about. She also had a large fund of private moneymuch of it raised by the London Times with which she could obtain badly needed supplies. By the end of 1854, some order had been created and the hospital was cleanernot only through Nightingale's efforts but also through improvements made by a governmental sanitary commission. The death rate among patients fell by two-thirds. But with improvement came new problems, including anger from officials who were found at fault for the poor hospital conditions and rising disputes among the nurses.

Hospital reform efforts back home

Florence Nightingale left Scutari in the summer of 1856, soon after the war ended. By then she was famous among the troops and the public as the "Lady with the Lamp" and the "Nightingale in the East." This popular image is not quite accurate. Although she did some active nursing in the wards, Nightingale's real work lay outside the expression of tenderness and concern. It began with her refusal to respond to public praise and with her use of her influence in high places, including with the queen, to fight for effective reform of the entire system of military hospitals and medical care.

In Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army (1857) Nightingale used the experiences of the war to prove that a new system was necessary. Within five years this effort led to the reconstruction of the administrative structure of the War Office. Nightingale's Notes on Hospitals (1859) detailed the proper arrangements for civilian institutions (places that were not a part of the military). In the next year she presided over the founding of the Nightingale School for the training of nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital in London, England. After 1858 she was recognized as the leading expert on military and civilian sanitation (the removal of water-transported waste) in India. She also believed that irrigation (the supplying of water to an area using artificial methods) was the solution to the problem of famine. In 1907 Nightingale was the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit.

Later years

Nightingale's personality is well documented. She rebelled against the idle, sheltered existence of her family her entire life. She achieved a leading position in a world dominated by men, driving and directing her male coworkers as hard as she did herself. She often complained that women were selfish, and she had no time for the growing women's rights movement. But she also developed an idea of spiritual (relating to or affecting the spirit) motherhood and saw herself as the mother of the men of the British army"my children"whom she had saved. Florence Nightingale never really recovered from the physical strain of the Crimean War. After 1861 she rarely left her home and was confined to her bed much of the time. She died on August 13, 1910, in London, England.

For More Information

Dossey, Barbara Montgomery. Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corp., 2000.

Small, Hugh. Florence Nightingale: Avenging Angel. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Vickers, Rebecca. Florence Nightingale. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2000.

Wellman, Sam. Florence Nightingale: Lady with the Lamp. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour, 1999.

Woodham-Smith, Cecil. Florence Nightingale. New ed. London: Constable, 1996.

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Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

The English nurse Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was the founder of modern nursing and made outstanding contributions to knowledge of public health.

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820, of wealthy parents. Her father was heir to a Derbyshire estate. Her mother, from solid merchant stock, dedicated herself to the pursuit of social pleasure within the circumscribed life then proper for women of high station. Though Florence was tempted by prospects of a brilliant social life and marriage, she had a stronger strain that demanded independence, dominance in some field of activity, and obedience to God by selfless service to society.

In 1844 Nightingale decided to work in hospitals. Her family furiously resisted her plan, on the ostensible ground that nurses were not "ladies" but menial drudges, usually of questionable morals. Nevertheless, she managed to do some private nursing and then to spend a few months at Kaiserworth, a German school and hospital. In 1853 she became superintendent of the London charity-supported Institution for Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances. This opportunity allowed her to achieve effective independence from her family and also to try out novel techniques of institutional organization and management, conducted in a scientific, nonsectarian spirit.

In October 1854 Nightingale organized a party of 38 nurses, mostly from various religious orders, for service in the Crimean War. They arrived at Constantinople in November. Conditions at the British base hospital at Scutari were appalling and grew steadily worse as the flow of sick and wounded soldiers from the Crimea rapidly increased. The medical services of the British army were both insufficient and inefficient: a supply system of infinite and archaic complexity actually cut off deliveries to the patients; the Barrack Hospital, where Nightingale and her nurses were quartered, sat over a massive cesspool which poisoned the water and even the fabric of the building itself. However, the attitude still prevailed that the common soldier was an uncivilized, drunken brute on whom all comforts and refinements would be wasted.

Nightingale saw that her first task was to convert the military doctors to accept her and her nurses. Her discretion and diplomacy, combined with the influx of new sick and wounded, soon brought this about. She also had a large fund of private money, much of it raised by the London Times, with which she could cut through the clogged supply system. By the end of 1854 some order and cleanliness had been created, not only through her efforts but also through the revelations and improvements made by a governmental sanitary commission. The death rate among patients fell by two-thirds. But with improvement came new problems, with the defensiveness and hostility of the officials responsible for conditions now exposed and with the sectarian squabbling among the nurses, which Nightingale called the "Protestant Howl" and the "Roman Catholic Storm."

Florence Nightingale left Scutari in the summer of 1856, soon after the hostilities ended. By now she was idolized by the troops and the public as the "Lady with the Lamp" and the "Nightingale in the East." But this popular image is essentially false. Although she did active nursing in the wards, her real work lay outside the expression of tenderness and compassion. It began with her deliberate refusal to respond to public adulation and with her use of her influence in high places, even to the Queen and Prince Albert, to fight for effective reform of the entire system of military hospitals and medical care. Nightingale planned tactics from behind the scenes. In Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army (1857) she used the experiences of the war as a body of data to prove the necessity of a new system. Within 5 years this effort led to the reconstruction of the administrative structure of the War Office.

Nightingale's Notes on Hospitals (1859) detailed the proper arrangements for civilian institutions. In the next year she presided over the founding of the Nightingale School for the training of nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital in London. After 1858 she was recognized as the leading expert on military and civilian sanitation in India, in which capacity she advocated irrigation as the solution to the problem of famine.

Nightingale's personality is well documented. Her whole life she rebelled against the idle, sheltered existence of her family. She achieved a dominant position in a masculine world, driving and directing her male allies with the same ruthless force she applied to herself. She frequently complained of women's selfishness, and she ironically had no sympathy with the growing feminist movement. But she also developed a conception of spiritual motherhood and saw herself as the mother of the men of the British army— "my children"—whom she had saved.

Florence Nightingale never really recovered from the physical strain of the Crimea. After 1861 she was house-bound and bedridden. She died on Aug. 13, 1910.

Further Reading

There are two substantial standard biographies of Miss Nightingale: Sir Edward Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale (2 vols., 1913), and Cecil Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale (1951), a most effective and satisfying treatment. Other biographies are Irene Cooper Willis, Florence Nightingale: A Biography (1930), and Margaret Goldsmith, Florence Nightingale, The Woman and the Legend (1937). Florence Nightingale is the subject of a famous chapter in Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians (1918); though unduly harsh, it rests on solid insight and has shaped the understanding of her personality. □

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Nightingale, Florence

NIGHTINGALE, FLORENCE

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820. The daughter of upper-class British parents, Nightingale pursued a career in nursing, despite family objections, believing it to be God's will. In 1851 she received her initial training in Kaiserworth at a hospital run by an order of Protestant Deaconesses. Two years later she gained further experience as the superintendent at the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London, England.

After reading a series of correspondence from the London Times in 1854 on the plight of wounded soldiers fighting in the Crimea, Nightingale asked the British secretary of war to secure her entrance into the military hospitals at Scutari, Turkey. He not only granted her permission but designated her the head of an official delegation of nurses. Nightingale worked for the next two years to improve the sanitary conditions of army hospitals and to reorganize their administration. The Times immortalized her as the "Lady with the Lamp" because she ministered to the soldiers throughout the night.

Upon her return to England, Nightingale conducted an exhaustive study of the health of the British Army and created a plan for reform that she compiled into a five-hundred-page report entitled Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army (1858). In 1859 she published Notes on Hospitals, which was followed in 1860 by Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not. That same year she established a nursing school at St. Thomas's Hospital in London.

Nightingale wanted to make nursing a respectable profession and believed that nurses should be trained in science. She also advocated strict discipline, an attention to cleanliness, and felt that nurses should possess an innate empathy for their patients. Although Nightingale became an invalid following her stay in the Crimea, she remained an influential leader in public health policies related to hospital administration until her death on August 13, 1910.

Jennifer Koslow

(see also: History of Public Health; Leadership; Nurse )

Bibliography

Baly, M. E. (1986). Florence Nightingale and the Nursing Legacy. London: Croom Helm.

Bullough, V.; Bullough, B.; and Stanton, M. P., eds. (1990). Florence Nightingale and Her Era: A Collection of New Scholarship. New York: Garland.

Small, H. (1948). Florence Nightingale: Avenging Angel. London: Constable.

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Nightingale, Florence

Nightingale, Florence (1820–1910). Nursing reformer. Named after the city of her birth, liberally educated, she chafed at the restricted opportunities for women of her station but eventually found purpose in relieving suffering. She learned nursing skills from the deaconesses at Kaiserwerth, but her real talents lay in administration, where she could manipulate and assert her will. Invited to go out to Crimea (1854), her success in mitigating Scutari's appalling conditions stemmed from organization, discipline, hard work, and being outside the army structure. On return, exploiting the legend of the Lady with the Lamp though chronically unwell, perhaps as a result of brucellosis (for 40 years), she undertook reform of the army medical services, then hospital architecture, nursing education, and sanitary reform in India. A person of considerable complexity, she raised nursing from disrepute to an honourable vocation, but was a lukewarm supporter of women's emancipation.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Nightingale, Florence

Florence Nightingale, 1820–1910, English nurse, the founder of modern nursing, b. Florence, Italy. Her life was dedicated to the care of the sick and war wounded and to the promotion of her vision of an effective public health-care system. In 1844 she began to visit hospitals; in 1850 she spent some time with the nursing Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul in Alexandria; and a year later she studied at the institute for Protestant deaconesses in Kaiserswerth, Germany. In 1854 she organized a unit of 38 woman nurses for service in the Crimean War; by the end of the war she had become a legend. With the testimonial fund collected for her war services she established (1860) the Nightingale School and Home for training nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital, London. She was called "The Lady with the Lamp" because she believed that a nurse's care was never ceasing, night or day; she taught that nursing was a noble profession, and she made it so. Florence Nightingale was the first woman to be given the British Order of Merit (1907). She wrote Notes … on Hospital Administration (1857), Notes on Hospitals (1859), Notes on Nursing (1860), and Notes on Nursing for the Labouring Classes (1861). After her death the Crimean Monument, Waterloo Place, London, was erected (1915) in her honor, and the Florence Nightingale International Foundation was inaugurated (1934).

See M. Vicinus and B. Nergaard, ed., Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale: Selected Letters (1989); biographies by C. Woodham-Smith (1950, 1983), E. Huxley (1975), B. M. Dossey (2000, repr. 2009), H. Small (2000), G. Gill (2004), M. Bostridge (2008), and L. McDonald (2010); studies by F. B. Smith (1982), M. E. Baly (1986, repr. 1998), and S. Dengler (1988).

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Nightingale, Florence

Nightingale, Florence (1820–1910) British nurse, b. Italy. She founded modern nursing and is best known for her activities in the Crimean War. In 1854, she took a unit of 38 nurses to care for wounded British soldiers. In 1860, she founded the Nightingale School and Home for nurse training at St Thomas's Hospital, London.

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Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

1820-1910

Nurse

Sources

Middle-Class Upbringing. Florence Nightingale was born into a solidly upper–middle–class family. She and her elder sister, Panthenope, were educated by governesses until her Cambridge–educated father took over the task, teaching his children about the classics, the Bible, and contemporary politics. At age twenty Florence Nightingale overcame her parents’ objections and was allowed to receive tutoring in her preferred subject, mathematics, at which she excelled. Becoming a tutor herself, she grew particularly interested in the application of statistical methods to social and political problems.

Answering a Call. In 1837, Nightingale believed God called her to a life of service. Strongly influenced by the example of the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul, whom she encountered during a visit to Egypt, she sought to become a nurse, even though that profession was not considered appropriate for an educated woman. In 1851 she received three months of nursing training at the Institute for Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserwerth, near Düsseldorf in Prussia. She then worked for a time at a hospital run by the Sisters of Mercy near Paris before returning in 1853 to London, where she found work on Harley Street, the center of medicine in London, becoming the (unpaid) superintendent at the Establishment for Gentlewomen during Illness.

Crimea. Only a few months later, in March 1854, England and France joined the Ottoman Turks in the Crimean War against Russia. After newspaper accounts criticized the poor care given to British soldiers in the field, Secretary of War Sidney Herbert (1810–1861), a friend of Nightingale’s, asked her to oversee the establishment of nurses in the field hospitals. She and thirty-eight nurses (of whom eighteen were Anglican or Roman Catholic nuns) arrived near Constantinople (now Istanbul) in early November 1854. Despite the resentment and outright opposition of doctors and military commanders, Nightingale set out to reform the sanitation, food, water supplies, and organization of the hospitals. Not only did she oversee personnel, she also performed nursing work. Because of her habit of inspecting hospitals at night, she became known as the “Lady with the Lamp.” Using her mathematical skills, Nightingale established a system of keeping records and collected data that enabled her to calculate mortality rates. The results of her calculations showed that British soldiers were seven times more likely to die of diseases such as cholera or typhus in fieldhospitals than they were to perish in battle—a statistic she attributed to appalling sanitary conditions in the hospitals. Her reforms and the acquisition of better medical equipment caused the mortality rate to fall from 60 per-cent at her arrival to 43 percent in February 1855 and then to 2.2 percent by May. This success made Nightin–gale a national hero in England and changed the practice of medicine. Nursing became an accepted and even a prestigious profession for women, who began to play an increasing role in the health field.

Medical Reform. When she returned to England in February 1856, Nightingale took up the cause of military–hospital reform because her statistics showed that, even during peacetime, soldiers aged twenty to thirty–five suffered twice the mortality rate of civilians. Largely as a result of her efforts, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, along with Prime Minister Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston (1784–1865), created the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army, which implemented important improvements in the medical care of the British armed forces at home and abroad. Afte an illness contracted in the Crimea kept Nightingale from working as a nurse, she became an influential voice on public-health reform. She wrote extensively on the need for proper training of nurses and midwives and sanitary reform in India, the correct design of hospital wards and buildings, andways to improve public-health standards, particularly in rural areas. Grateful benefactors from the Crimean War era created the Nightingale Fund, which was used in 1860 to establish the Nightingale Training School and Home for Nurses, located at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. Nightingale also influenced the founding in 1861 of a system of district nursing in Liverpool, which was widely imitated. At the end of her long life, in the course of which she was frequently ill, Nightingale’s contributions to public health were recognized by King Edward VII, who awarded her the Order of Merit in 1907. She was the first woman to be so honored. Although best known for her role as the “Lady with the Lamp,” Nightingale contributed to a wide range of health reforms, and she consistently applied her mathematical training and organizational skills to practical problems.

Sources

Vern L. Bullough, Bonnie Bullough, and Marietta P. Stanton, eds., Florence Nightingale and Her Era: A Collection of New Scholarship (New York: Garland, 1990).

Sue M. Goldie, ed., I Have Done My Duty: Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, 1854–56 (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1987).

Elspeth Huxley, Florence Nightingale (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1975).

Martha Vicinus and Bea Nergaard, eds., Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale: Selected Letters (London: Virago, 1989).

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Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

1820-1910

English Nurse

Driven by a message from God to nurse the sick, Florence Nightingale became known as the mother of the modern nursing profession. She single-handedly changed the way English hospitals functioned and the way nurses worked within them. Her reforms spread throughout the world.

Nightingale was born to aristocratic parents in May 1820, in Florence, Italy. Her parents chose to name her after the city of her birth. Once she was one year old, Nightingale's parents decided to return to their native England.

Typical of wealthy English families, the Nightingales had more than one estate. They summered at Lea Hurst, a relatively small house with 15 bedrooms, and lived the rest of the year at Embley Park, their larger home. They also spent each spring and fall visiting London. The Nightingales were extremely social, and Florence and her older sister Parthenope grew up within a flurry of balls, banquets, and social gatherings.

When Nightingale was 24, she claimed to receive a clear message that she was to nurse the sick in service to God. In 1844, however, nursing was not an honorable profession. Hospitals were scenes of incredible filth and associated with despicable people. Her parents forbid her to follow her calling and restricted her actions. She lived the next several years in misery. Late at night she would read articles she had secretly received. From these she became an expert on hospital conditions and reform. She took advantage of rare opportunities to nurse ailing relatives and neighbors. These were her only fleeting moments of happiness and fulfillment.

Relatives and friends finally helped Nightingale convince her family that she should be allowed to become supervisor of the Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances. Over strenuous objections, the Nightingale's permitted her to take the position. At the age of 32, Nightingale was finally allowed to answer God's call.

Within a few months details of Nightingale's reputation had spread to the British government. After England and France declared war on Russia, beginning the Crimean War, Nightingale was asked to travel to Turkey to lead a group of nurses in the care of battle-injured soldiers. The conditions were horrible. Men screamed in agony and were left to suffer, disease raged in every corridor, and soldiers lived in their own filth. Although she encountered such severe conditions, within a few months she had largely sanitized the hospitals, found clean bedding and clothing for the men, and greatly increased the comfort of all involved. Those around her called her gift "Nightingale power." Soldiers called her "the lady with the lamp" because late at night she wandered the halls while carrying a lamp, making sure the men were quiet and able to rest.

Nightingale returned to England a hero, having revolutionized nursing. In the midst of this triumph, Nightingale's health collapsed. She proceeded to write letters and reports from her bed and was an invalid much of the rest of her life. It was later thought that she suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, though at the time it was considered to be exhaustion from the war, and perhaps overexposure to disease. In spite of her illness, she continued to work for more extensive sanitation and reform in hospitals.

For the last 14 years of her life Nightingale did not leave her bedroom. When she was 87 she received the Order of Merit from King Edward VII. It was the first time the award had ever been given to a woman. Three years later, at age 90, she died, completely blind and no longer lucid. She willed her body to science and requested that only a simple cross mark her grave.

CAROLYN CRANE LOVE

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