Florence Nightingale - Fairview Primary School

Famous Victorian
Florence Nightingale
“Lady with the Lamp”
By David Purcell P7K
NAME: Florence Nightingale
BIRTH DATE: May 12, 1820
DEATH DATE: Aug 13, 1910
age 90 yrs
EDUCATION: Institution of Protestant Deaconesses at
Kaiserswerth, Germany
PLACE OF BIRTH: Florence, Italy
Florence was the daughter of William and Frances Nightingale. Her father
was a wealthy English land owner and banker . After his marriage in 1818 the
couple went to live in Italy where Florence was born and named after the
Italian city of Florence.
Florence had an older sister, Frances Parthenope (known as 'Pop').
When 5 years of age Florence returned home to England and raised on the
family estate at Lea Hurst. Florence received a classical education including
studies in German, French and Italian. She was a clever child and liked
history and maths.
From a young age Florence was interested in the well being of ill and poor
people and ministered to them in the local village near her home.
By the time Florence was 16 years old she had decided nursing was what she
wanted to do and at 17 years of age believed she was called into service by
God leading her to refuse a marriage proposal from a suitable gentleman.
At first her parents were not pleased and forbade her to pursue nursing. During
the Victorian era a young lady of her social position was expected to marry a
man of means and not take up a job that was viewed as menial labour.
However Florence did not give up and finally in 1844 her father gave his
permission and she went to Kaiserwerth in Germany to train as a nurse.
In the early 1850’s she returned to London, taking up a post in Middlesex Hospital
where within a year, she was promoted to superintendant.
In 1854 Florence was asked by the Secretary of War to organise a corps
of nurses to attend to the sick and injured soldiers in Crimea. She
quickly gathered a team of 34 nurses and left for Crimea, arriving in
November at Scutari, the British base hospital in Constantinople.
Conditions were horrid, the hospital was overcrowded and filthy.
- not enough beds, men lay on the floor
- no proper toilets
- no washing facilities for men or laundry
- drains were blocked
- rats and rodents ran everywhere
- more soldiers were dying from infectious diseases than from injuries
- food was scarce and of poor quality
- there was a shortage of basic supplies such as bandages/soap.
Florence set to work immediately, she:
- organised the least sick to help scrub the inside of the hospital
- bought fresh food and employed a chef to cook better meals
- paid workmen to clear the drains
- established a laundry
- created a classroom and a library
- dramatically improved overall sanitary conditions.
At night Florence walked the wards to
make sure the men were comfortable.
She wrote letters home for men who
could not write and she sat with
dying soldiers to comfort them.
Florence carried a lantern, so the
soldiers called her 'The Lady with the
Her work reduced the hospital’s
death rate by two thirds.
Florence wrote an 830 page report analyzing her experience and
proposing reforms for other military hospitals.
This led to a restructuring of the War Office's administrative
department and the establishment of a Royal Commission for the
Health of the Army in 1857.
She remained at Scutari for a year and a half. On her return home to
Lea Hurst she was met with a hero's welcome.
The Queen rewarded Florence’s work by presenting her with an
engraved brooch that became known as the "Nightingale Jewel"
and by granting her a prize of £45 000 from the British government.
Florence used the money to fund the establishment of the
Nightingale Training School for Nurses in 1860 at St Thomas’s Hospital.
She became a figure of public admiration. Poems, songs and plays
were written in her honour. Young women aspired to be like her.
Even women from the wealthy upper classes started enrolling at the
training school. Thanks to her, nursing became viewed as an
honourable vocation.
While at Scutari, Florence contracted "Crimean
fever" and would never fully recover.
By the time she was 38 years old, she was
bedridden and remained so for the rest of her life.
Fiercely determined, and dedicated to improving
health care, she continued her work from her bed.
In 1859, she published Notes on Hospitals, which focused on how to
properly run civilian hospitals.
Throughout the U.S. Civil War, she was frequently consulted about how
to best manage field hospitals. Florence also served as an authority on
public sanitation issues in India for both the military and civilians,.
In 1908, at the age of 88, she was conferred the merit of honour by King
Edward. In May of 1910, she received a congratulatory message from
King George on her 90th birthday.
In August 1910, Florence Nightingale fell ill, but seemed to
recover and was reportedly in good spirits. A week later, on
the evening of Friday, August 12, 1910, she developed an
array of troubling symptoms. She died unexpectedly at 2
pm the following day, Saturday, August 13, at her home in
Characteristically, she had expressed the desire that her
funeral be a quiet and modest affair, despite the public's
desire to honour her.
Respecting her last wishes, her relatives turned down a
national funeral. The "Lady with the Lamp" was laid to rest in
a family plot at Westminster Abbey.
The Florence Nightingale Museum, which sits at the site of
the original Nightingale Training School for Nurses, houses
more than 2,000 artefacts commemorating the life and
career of the "Angel of the Crimea." To this day, Florence
Nightingale is broadly acknowledged and revered as the
pioneer of modern nursing.
The Florence Nightingale Training School has gone through a number of
mergers and expansions and is now an academic school within King’s
College Hospital London.
It is primarily concerned with the education of people to become
nurses and midwives. It also carries out research, professional
development and postgraduate programmes.
My cousin Rachel graduated last summer and is now a nurse in King’s
College Hospital, London. It is a very large and busy hospital with 7000
Thank you
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