Florence Nightingale

Reformer of hospital nursing and of the Army Medical Services

Florence Nightingale, OM, RRC was a celebrated British social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was known as "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night.

When Florence Nightingale was 29 she visited Egypt in the winter of 1849-50 with Charles and Celina Bracebridge. She was one of the first Western women to make such a journey and she carried home small antiquities as souvenirs. In 1949 they were donated to the Museum by her relative, Mrs Rosalind Nash.

Early 21st century commentators have asserted Nightingale's achievements in the Crimean War had been exaggerated by the media at the time, to satisfy the public's need for a hero, but her later achievements remain widely accepted. In 1860, Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London. It was the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King's College London. The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses was named in her honour, and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday. Her social reforms include improving healthcare for all sections of British society, improving healthcare and advocating for better hunger relief in India, helping to abolish laws regulating prostitution that were overly harsh to women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.

Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer. In her lifetime much of her published work was concerned with spreading medical knowledge. Some of her tracts were written in simple English so they could easily be understood by those with poor literary skills. She also helped popularise the graphical presentation of statistical data. Much of her writing, including her extensive work on religion and mysticism, has only been published posthumously.
  • Gender
    Female
  • Relationship
    Collector, Previous owner
  • Nationality
    British: English
  • Born
    1820-05-12
  • Place of birth
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Florence
  • Died
    1910-08-13
  • Place of death
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Florence
  • Cause of death
    Unknown or unrecorded
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