Florence Nightingale:

Progress Comes Slowly for the Masses

This is one of the few photographs of Florence Nightingale because she did not enjoy being in the eye of the public. The picture shows her wearing a white nursing cap which later became the style for other nurses.

Florence Nightingale's achievements as a nurse and activist in sanitation were a major turning point in the history of health care. Before Miss Nightingale,nurses were either poor servant-class workers, or Roman Catholic nuns. Nurses were usually uneducated in medicine, and did not have much experience in the field. Florence started the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing, she felt all nurses should be well educated. Nightingale helped to break down class barriers, by allowing members of all classes into her school. Before Florence, most hospitals were dirty and poorly planned buildings. Florence's observation, that cleanliness decreased the death rate influenced others to impose sanitation requirements. Florence Nightingale had a major impact on the development of medicine by changing the way nurses were viewed and creating higher sanitary standards for hospitals.

Florence Nightingale was born into an upper class family on May 12, 1820. At the age of twelve, her father began her education. Florence enjoyed learning so much, she would skip parties to stay home and read; this upset her mother. In 1837, she believed that God told her she had a special mission in life. Also in 1837 Florence began to show a love of nursing as she cared for the sick. Her family found this to be disgraceful. In 1846, Florence learned of the Institution of Protestant Deaconesses, a teaching hospital, in Kaiserwerth, Germany where she began in 1850. In 1853 Florence became the superintendent at the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewoman in London. Then in 1854 she was asked to be in charge of a group of nurses sent to help English soldiers fighting in the Crimean War. She accepted the offer and left a few months later.

Florence Nightingale became very involved with the Crimean War in November 1854 when she was asked to assist doctors in the Barrack Hospital. Nightingale brought 38 of the most qualified nurses, mostly well educated nuns, when she accepted the opportunity. Nightingale's goals for her trip were to help the soldiers, and give nurses a better reputation. When Florence first arrived in Turkey the hospitals were dirty, and overcrowded. Nightingale cleaned up the hospitals, made a more pleasing atmosphere for the patients and cleaned the fresh water pipes. Florence's involvement in the war was truly a turning point in the way Europe viewed nurses. The media was very interested in Nightingale's work in the hospitals and during this time. Nightingale became a famous female nurse and the social status of all nurses was improved.

This drawing portrays Florence in a hospital ward. While she worked in various hospitals during the Crimean War, she often carried a lamp as she visited many of the patients each night. Florence became known as the "Lady with the Lamp."

When Nightingale returned from Crimea, she was met with an enormous amount of money that had been donated in her name. Nightingale refused to take the money for herself. With it she started the Nightingale Nursing School at St. Thomas' Hospital, in England. St. Thomas' was a large, rich and well managed, all things Nightingale thought were needed if her school was going to be successful.

A year before the school opened Nightingale wrote two books, "Notes on Nursing," and "Notes on Hospitals". The books allowed her opinions to spread.

Nightingale's school opened in June 1860, with fifteen students. Nightingale kept strict rules. Any flirtation shown, resulted in immediate dismissal. The girls were allowed out only in pairs, they each wore a brown uniform, with a white cap and apron.

In 1883, Nightingale relieved the British Royal Red Cross and in 1907 Nightingale was the first woman awarded the British Honor of Merit.

Florence Nightingale died in 1910, after living nine years of being totally blind.


This comparison between rooms clearly shows Florence Nightingale's influence. The before drawing of a Crimean Hospital ward shows the dirt which settled in the rooms and caused infection for many of the patients. When Nightingale arrived, she cleaned the hospitals and created sanitary regulations. As a result, the death rate decreased by two-thirds.
This map represents the travels that Nightingale took during her life.

Bibliography Secondary Sources:

"A Famous Lamp Flickers Florence was Not Such an Angel After All." The Guardian April 1999: 21.

Audain, Cynthia. "Florence Nightingale" Agnes State College 1999. URL:www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/nitegale.htm (22 November 1999)

This source was found using the Dogpile search engine. Cynthia Audain is a student at Agnes Scott College. She included on her web site the resources that she used to find her information, none of which are web sites but all reliable books. She provided me with unique information about Florence's advancements in math.

Bull, Angela. Florence Nightingale. London: Hamish Hamilton,1985.

Colver, Anne. Florence Nightingale: War Nurse. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1992.

Cook, E.T. The Life of Florence Nightingale. Vol1. London: MacMillin and Co., Limited, 1913.

Cook, E.T. The Life of Florence Nightingale. Vol2. London: MacMillin and Co., Limited, 1913.

"Crimean War" Encarta encyclopedia. 1998 ed.

"Florence Nightingale." Encyclopedia.Com. http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/09259.html.

This source was found using Proquest which is an edited online search engine and The information matches the information found in text resources.

"Florence Nightingale." Funk and Wagnalls.Com Encyclopedia. http://www.funkandwagnalls.com/encyclopedia/low/articles/n/n0170014f.html

This source was found using Proquest which is an edited online search engine. The dates and information from his web sites matches the information found in reliable sources.

"Florence Nightingale: Rural Hygiene", Modern History Sourcebook. 1997. URL: www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/nightingale-rural.html

I found this source through a search engine on the web. I believe that this information is correct because it comes from a copyrighted book and also gives a bibliography at the end which includes a book written by Florence Nightingale.

Harmelink, Barbara. Florence Nightingale Founder of Modern Nursing. New York: Franklin Watts, 1969.

Herbert, Raymond G., Florence Nightingale: Saint, Reformer, or Rebel? Florida: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company, 1981.

Huxley, Elspeth. Florence Nightingale. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1975

Johnson, Jane E. "Florence Nightingale" Geocities 1999. URL: www.geocities.com/~bread n roses/wwa/nightin.htm (22 November 1999).

In this site, Johnson had compiled a list of some of Florence Nightingale's most famous quotes. She also included a bibliography of her resources which were not web sites. This is a primary source because the words came out of Florence Nightingale's mouth. I will give me insights to her ambitions, accomplishments and thoughts.

"Lady with the Lamp", Nursing 1998. URL: nursing.miningco.com/health/nursing/library/weekly/aa05149.htm

This source was found through a search engine on the internet. I believe that this information is correct because I found it on a web page by nurses and if it was put on this page, then the information would be accurate because the people who wrote this and keep the page believe that Florence Nightingale made a huge impact on the world of nursing.

"Nightingale, Florence." Collier's Encyclopedia. 1989 ed.

"Nightingale, Florence." Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. 1995 ed.

"Nightingale, Florence." Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. 1996 ed.

"Nightingale, Florence." The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia Of World Biography. 1973 ed.

"Nightingale, Florence." The World Book Encyclopedia. 1998 ed.

Shore, Donna. Florence Nightingale. New Jersey: Silver Burdett Company, 1987.

Spartacus School. "Florence Nightingale." http:/www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Renightingale.htm

This source contains information about her early life; it goes into great deal about her parents.

Tames, Richard. Florence Nightingale, New York: Franklin Watts, 1989.

"The Florence Nightingale Story" The Florence Nightingale Museum. 1997. URL: http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/flo2.htm

This source was found through a search engine on the internet. I believe that this information is correct and can be used because at the end there is a copy right and the address of the museum in London. Also, the information on the website matches the other information I have so I know it was not made up.

Woodham-Smith, Cecil. Florence Nightingale. London: Constable and Company, 1950.

Primary Sources:

Andrews, Mary Raymond Shipman. A Lost Commander: Florence Nightingale. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. 1929.

This book is a primary source because it is a book written during the lifetime of Florence Nightingale.

"A Queen's Present to Miss Nightingale." The London Times 15 Jan. 1856: 4.

This is a primary source because it comes directly from the time in which Florence lived. The article is about the Queen giving her a gift during her life, as well as what plans Florence had for her future, like her training school.

Brown, Pam, Florence Nightingale. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 1989.

This is a primary source because it contains quotes that she said during speeches as well as written accounts of what she saw.

"Dies, Aged Ninety" The New York Times. 15 August 1910: 7 - (Primary Source)

This article was found using microfilm at the Boston Public Library. It does not have an author but was written by people who lived during her life time, which makes it a primary source. It is a death notice as well as a short biography. I will be able to use it as a general overview and as an example of her reputation during her own time period.

"Florence Nightingale." The New York Times. 1 December 1907: 10.

This is a primary source because it was a newspaper article written about Florence Nightingale during her lifetime. It does not have an author but was written by people who reported on her receiving the Order of Merit. It provides details of the presentation as well as the point of view of the English people when she received it. This was found using Microfilm at the Boston Public Library.

"Miss Florence Nightingale." The London Times. 13 August 1856: 6.

This article is a primary source because it talks about Florence Nightingale's return home and it was written in August of 1856 which was when she returned to England from Crimea.

"Miss Nightingale." The London Times 19 July 1856: 8.

This article is a primary source because it talks about the committee who collected money for the Nightingale fund which was later used to set up the Nightingale School of Nurses. Because the article was written while the committee was collecting the money and deciding how to use it, the article is a primary source.