Florence Nightingale

Nightingale, Florence, 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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