May 12th, 2005


Happy Birthday, Florence Nightingale

Today marks an anniversary significant to everyone, though in most cases celebrated probably by her family and nurses most predominantly.

On this day in history, 1820, Florence Nightingale was born to William Edward and Frances Nightingale in Florence, Italy. The wealthy English couple spent two years touring Italy for their honeymoon, and during that time Frances gave birth to their two daughters, Parthenope (the ancient Greek name for Naples) and Florence. Their father William educated the girls at home, with Parthenope showing strong artistic tendancies and Florence, academic.

Florence is best known as "The Lady With the Lamp" for her work in reforming British Army Hospitals during the Crimean War. What is less known is that her help was not desired by the British generals on site. When she showed up with a shipload of supplies and women to help her, she was informed to unload the suppies on the dock and they would be transported where needed. Her reply to the generals made the point that they did not understand: the supplies, and Florence, were a package deal. No Florence (and her ladies), no supplies. These supplies were not British government property; Florence bought and shipped them using her own funds.

Besides her efforts to reform army hospitals, and later civil hosptials in Britian, Ms. Nightingale is also well known for introducing the use of statistics to measure outcomes (infections, reasons, surgeries, etc.) within health care.

Some links of interest:

The Florence Nightingale Museum

Florence Nightingale: Brief Biography

Clendening History of Medicine Library - Florence Nightingale Resources

American Association for the History of Nursing - Calendar

And, because I am, and because I can:

Men in American Nursing History

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