Florence Nightingale


A picture of the author Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910) best known for founding modern nursing, was an English reformer, statistician and author. She gained prominence while heading a team of nurses treating injured soldiers during the Crimean War (1853-1856) between Russia and the alliance of France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire. She elevated the profession of nursing and became a Victorian icon, "the lady with the lamp" who arrived in the middle of the night to tend to sick and dying soldiers. Enjoy reading her biography for young people by Laura E. Richards, Florence Nightingale, the Angel of the Crimea.

Nightingale wrote Notes on Nursing in 1859. In 1860, she founded the nursing school at London's St. Thomas Hospital. In 1861, at the start of the American Civil War, she wrote, Cooking by Troops, in Camp and Hospital. You might also enjoy her biography for young people, Florence Nightingale, The Angel of the Crimea, written by Laura E. Richards. Nightingale is featured in our Feminist Literature - Study Guide

The "Nightingale Pledge" was created at a Detroit, Michigan nursing school in her honor in 1893, based on the Hippocratic Oath. It has been recited by nurses at their "pinning" ceremonies for decades as a commitment to uphold the ethics and principles of the nursing profession. The pledge has been updated over the years; we offer its original version:

The Nightingale Pledge

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this 
assembly to pass my life in purity and to practise my profession 
faithfully.
I shall abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, 
and shall not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.
I shall do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard 
of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters 
committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my 
knowledge in the practice of my calling.
I shall be loyal to my work and devoted towards the welfare of 
those committed to my care.

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