history meme | six women ∙ florence nightingale

Florence Nightingale was a celebrated British social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night. She was born on 12 May 1820, while her wealthy parents were in Florence, Italy. In 1837, Nightingale began to develop an interest in nursing, but her parents considered it to be a profession inappropriate to a woman of her class and background, and would not allow her to train as a nurse.

Nightingale’s parents eventually relente in 1851, and she went to Kaiserwerth in Germany for three months nursing training. This enabled her to become superintendent of a hospital for gentlewomen in Harley Street, in 1853. The following year, the Crimean War began and soon newspapers were describing the desperate lack of proper medical facilities for wounded British soldiers at the front. Sidney Herbert, the war minister, already knew Nightingale, and asked her to oversee a team of nurses in the military hospitals in Turkey. In November 1854, she arrived in Scutari in Turkey. With her nurses, she greatly improved the conditions and substantially reduced the mortality rate. The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses was named in her honour, and the annual International Nurses Dayis celebrated around the world on her birthday. Her social reforms include improving healthcare for all sections of British society, advocating for better hunger relief in India, helping to abolish laws regulating prostitution that were overly harsh to women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.

She returned to England in 1856. In 1860, she established the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Once the nurses were trained, they were sent to hospitals all over Britain, where they introduced the ideas they had learned, and established nursing training on the Nightingale model. Nightingale’s theories, published in ‘Notes on Nursing’ (1860), were hugely influential and her concerns for sanitation, military health and hospital planning established practices which are still in existence today. She died on 13 August 1910, remembered in history as a pioneer of nursing. [x]

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