Florence Nightingale


Florence Nightingale was born into an upper class, well connected family, but horrified her parents by choosing to become a nurse, which at the time, was considered a lower-class occupation. She made this decision out of religious conviction, and refused a proposal of marriage from an eminent politician in order to follow her calling. She attended a school of nursing in Germany, and there learned a great deal about sanitation and proper nursing procedures. She initially worked in a charitable hospital for women but when the Crimean War broke out, offered her services to the British army, and used her political connections to secure resources.

In 1854 Nightingale left with 38 volunteer nurses to work at a military hospital in Scutari the Crimean. The conditions there were atrocious and a very high percentage of the men there died of disease rather than battle wounds. It took nearly six month to make any progress in the conditions, but after thoroughly cleaning the facilities, and providing for sanitary sewers, ventilation, and clean supplies, the death rate at the hospital dropped dramatically. Nightingale's personal behavior and commitment was also exemplary. She frequently worked twenty hour days, and took charge of every aspect of the hospital where the comfort of the soldiers could be improved. When she returned to Britain her reputation preceded her, and she received a hero's welcome.

Florence Nightingale was now the most trusted person in England to dictate changes to medical systems and used her influence to help draft new regulations and procedures, not only for military hospitals, but for many state-sponsored hospitals for the poor as well. She founded a medical college for nurses and wrote books and pamphlets on nursing. She continued to work as a nurse and a nursing advocate until she became incapacitated at the age of 76. She died in 1910.

Key events during the life of Florence Nightingale:

Birth of Florence Nightingale
Florence decides to become an nurse.
Visited German school nursing
Rejected proposal of marriage and attended nursing school
Worked as a nurse at a hospital in London
Volunteered for service in the Crimean War.
Insisted on improvements to sanitation and patient care
Returned to England. Worked on a report to the Royal Commission.
Received a government grant to open a school of nursing.
Published Notes on Nursing.
Opened the first Women's Medical College.
Became an invalid
Death of Florence Nightingale

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Florence Nightingale  in  Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary  by  Cambridge Press
The Lady-in-Chief  in  Red Book of Heroes  by  Mrs. Andrew Lang
Victoria—War  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
Florence Nightingale  in  Great Englishwomen  by  M. B. Synge
Crimean War  in  Growth of the British Empire  by  M. B. Synge
Fall of Sebastopol  in  The Reign of Queen Victoria  by  M. B. Synge

Book Links
Florence Nightingale  by  Laura Richards

Image Links

Florence Nightingale at Scutari
 in Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary

Roger could hardly believe his eyes.
 in Red Book of Heroes

Tell me what you want to say, and I will say it.'
 in Red Book of Heroes

Miss Florence Nightingale
 in The Reign of Queen Victoria

Short Biography
Sidney Herber Secretary of War during the Crimean War, and supporter of Nightingale.
Elizabeth Blackwell First female doctor in the United States. Worked with Florence Nightingale.
Lord Raglan Field Marshall of English Forces during the Crimean War.