Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy in 1820. When she was one year old her family moved to live in England. She was a member of a wealthy family and was educated by her father. She grew up in the family home at Embly, Hampshire and at their summer home at Lea Hurst. In her teens and early 20’s she travelled extensively in Europe and North Africa.
Despite strong objections from her family, Florence Nightingale decided to train as a nurse. She announced her decision in 1844 and enrolled as a nursing student at the Lutheran Hospital in Kaiserswerth, Germany. In 1852 she visited Dublin to observe the work of the Irish Sisters of Charity at St Vincent’s Hospital on St Stephen’s Green. She returned to England and took up a post in a Middlesex Hospital for elderly ladies.
The Crimean War broke out in 1853 and by 1854 there were over 18,000 injured soldiers in Military hospitals. In 1854 Nightingale was asked to organise a corps of nurses to help care for the wounded in the Crimea. She assembled a team of 38 nurses and sailed to the Crimea. The team was made up of nurses from various backgrounds including Anglican and Catholic religious sisters. Included in the Catholic group were 15 Mercy nuns from convents in Ireland and England. Two of the mercy nuns, Sister Aloysius Doyle and Sister Stanislaus Heyfron, were from Carlow, Ireland.
Conditions for the wounded in Crimea were appalling and more soldiers were dying of disease than from their wounds. Nightingale instituted a programme of hygiene and improved sanitation which brought about a dramatic reduction in the death rates. As a result of her representations the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was commissioned by the government to design a prefabricated hospital. The hospital was built in England and shipped to the war zone. Nightingale worked long hours and showed great compassion for the wounded. She became known as ‘the Lady with the Lamp’.
After the war Florence Nightingale returned to England. In July 1860 she established the Nightingale Training School at St Thomas’s Hospital in London. Though she was suffering from ill-health she continued to work in the areas such as hospital planning and social reform. In 1907 she became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit. She died in London at the age of 90 on August 13th 1910.
Florence Nightingale was born in the year 1820 On This Day.
Photo by JamesGardinerCollection
Graduates reciting Florence Nightingale Pledge by Galt Museum & Archives on The Commons on 2010-10-01 16:51:39