Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was nicknamed the “the Lady with the Lamp” or the “Angel of the Crimea” after her endless work at night attending to the hurt and sickened soldiers.
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy to Frances Nightingale and William Shore Nightingale. She was the younger of two children. Nightingale’s affluent British family belonged to elite social circles. Her mother, Frances, came from a family of merchants prominent social standing members of the society. Despite her mother’s interest in social climbing. She preferred to avoid being the center of attention whenever possible. Strong-willed, Florence often disagreed with her mother, whom she viewed as overly controlling. Still, like many daughters, she was eager to please her mother. Florence’s father was William Shore Nightingale, a wealthy landowner who had inherited two estates—one at Lea Hurst, Derbyshire, and the other in Hampshire, Embley Park—when Florence was five years old. Florence was raised on the family estate at Lea Hurst, where her father provided her with a classical education, including studies in German, French and Italian. From a very young age, Florence Nightingale was active in philanthropy, ministering to the ill and poor people in the village neighboring her family’s estate. By the time she was 16 years old, it was clear to her that nursing was her calling. She believed it to be her purpose. When Nightingale approached her parents and told them about her ambitions to become a nurse, they were not pleased. Her parents forbade her to pursue nursing. During the Victorian Era, a young lady of Nightingale’s social stature was expected to marry a man of means—not take up a job that was viewed as lowly menial labor by the upper social classes. When Nightingale was 17 years old, she refused a marriage proposal from a “suitable” gentleman, Richard Monckton Milnes. Nightingale explained her reason for turning him down, saying that while he stimulated her intellectually and romantically, her “moral…active nature…requires satisfaction, and that would not find it in this life.” Determined to pursue her true calling despite her parents’ objections, in 1844, Nightingale enrolled as a nursing student at the Lutheran Hospital of Pastor Fliedner in Kaiserwerth, Germany. In the early 1850s, Nightingale returned to London, where she took a nursing job in a Middlesex hospital for ailing governesses. Her performance there so impressed her employer that Nightingale was promoted to the superintendent within just a year of being hired. The position proved challenging as Nightingale grappled with a cholera outbreak and unsanitary conditions conducive to the rapid spread of the disease. Nightingale made it her mission to improve hygiene practices, significantly lowering the death rate at the hospital in the process. The hard work took a toll on her health. She had just barely when she got her first big break.
In late 1854, Nightingale received a letter from Secretary of War Sidney Herbert, asking her to organize a corps of nurses to tend to the sick and fallen soldiers in the Crimea. Nightingale rose to her calling. She quickly assembled a team of 34 nurses from a variety of religious orders and sailed with them to the Crimea just a few days later. When arrived Nightingale saw the horrid conditions the soldiers were living in and went to work. She procured hundreds of scrub brushes and asked the least infirm patients to scrub the inside of the hospital from floor to ceiling. Nightingale herself spent every waking minute caring for the soldiers. In the evenings she moved through the dark hallways carrying a lamp while making her rounds, ministering to patient after patient. The soldiers, who were both moved and comforted by her endless supply of compassion, took to calling her “the Lady with the Lamp.” Others simply called her “the Angel of the Crimea.” Her work reduced the hospital’s death rate by two-thirds. Nightingale created a number of patient services that contributed to improving the quality of their hospital stay. She instituted the creation of an “invalid’s kitchen” where appealing food for patients with special dietary requirements was cooked. She established a laundry so that patients would have clean linens. She also instituted a classroom and a library for patients’ intellectual stimulation and entertainment. Nightingale remained at Scutari for a year and a half. She left in the summer of 1856, once the Crimean conflict was resolved, and returned to her childhood home at Lea Hurst. She was met with a hero’s welcome. Nightingale became a figure of public admiration. Poems, songs, and plays were written and dedicated in the heroine’s honor. Young women aspired to be like her. Eager to follow her example, even women from the wealthy upper classes started enrolling at the training school. Thanks to Nightingale, nursing was no longer frowned upon by the upper classes; it had, in fact, come to be viewed as an honorable vocation. By the time she was 38 years old, she was homebound and bedridden and would be so for the remainder of her life. Fiercely determined and dedicated as ever to improving health care and alleviating patients’ suffering, Nightingale continued her work from her bed. Friday, August 12, 1910, she developed an array of troubling symptoms. She died unexpectedly at 2 p.m. the following day, Saturday, August 13, 1910, at her home in London. respecting her last wishes, her relatives turned down a national funeral. The “Lady with the Lamp” was laid to rest in Hampshire, England.

Cite:
History.com Editors. (2009, November 09). Florence Nightingale. Retrieved March 08, 2021, from https://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/florence-nightingale-1
 




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