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Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy to an affluent English family. Rather than assuming the expected role of an upper class English woman, Nightingale felt called to be a nurse. In 1850 she visited the Lutheran religious community of Kaiserswerth in Germany where she observed the work of the deaconesses in caring for the sick. Nightingale gained acclaim during the Crimean War where she earned the nickname “The Lady with the Lamp” for her efforts to improve sanitation and the hygienic conditions of British soldiers. In 1859 she published Notes on Nursing and established the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas Hospital in London to train nurses. She advocated for improved care and conditions in hospitals and for the professional training and status for nurses. As the founder of modern nursing, she influenced the establishment of nursing schools throughout Britain and North America.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of materials related to Florence Nightingale which were given to the Johns Hopkins Nursing Historical Collection over the course of many years primarily by people associated with Johns Hopkins nursing. Dr. Howard Kelly gave an album of Florence Nightingale letters and Nightingale’s chair. Kelly also gave a collection of books, called the Nightingale Collection, which consisted of books by and about Nightingale, nursing and the history of women in general. The Nightingale book collection was housed in several locations over the years when additional books were included in the collection so that it no longer existed in its original form. Currently, any rare books once associated with the Nightingale book collection are housed at the Institute of the History of Medicine in the Welch Medical Library. Adelaide Nutting gave several Nightingale books and other items related to Nightingale. Other alumni gave materials including correspondence, both copies and originals. In 1893 Nightingale’s cousin Sir Henry Bonham-Carter gave the statue of Florence Nightingale that is currently on display at Johns Hopkins University. The Isabel Hampton Robb papers contain the wedding bouquet and ribbon that Nightingale gave to Robb for her wedding. Dr. Lida O. Meredith gave Nightingale materials, including an edition of Notes on Nursing inscribed by Nightingale to the wife of Sidney Herbert.

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