Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, May of 1820 and was named after this city. She was home schooled by her father, a highly educated man. Both Florence’s parents were wealthy and loved to travel.
Although Florence’s family wanted her to marry, she knew from an early age that this was not for her. She had many callings from God, her first being when she was 17. In 1843, a man who tutored Florence asked her to marry him. She turned him down then and two years later, turned him down again.
In 1842 Florence had her first thoughts about nursing. She became aware of hungry people in towns and villages and was aware of workhouses, hospitals and prisons that were completely overfilled. Florence became concerned for the poor and sick of villages that contained agriculture workers and weavers. She asked her mother for food, bedding and clothes and usually her mother would have helped her out, but not this time.
Florence became unhappy with her life and felt that getting married like her mother wanted would not satisfy her. At the age of 24, she received another calling from God and decided to follow it. She felt she belonged in hospitals caring for the sick. When she asked her parents to learn more about nursing, they were not suitable with the idea and did not agree with it. In 1846, she decided that she might receive training in Germany at a hospital run by deacons and pastors where discipline and supervision was strictly enforced. Florence traveled to Kaiserwerth where she worked with the children in the hospital and attended an operation. Although there was no nurse training at kaiserwerth, she was happy to be helpful assistance to the patients.
In March of 1854, England and France declared war on Russia known as the Crimean war. Sidney Herbert who was Secretary at War contacted Florence regarding her taking a party of nurses to the hospitals of the British Army. An article was written and published in October of 1854 stating that there was much anger that there were no sufficient medical preparations for the proper care of the wounded.
Along with Florence, there were 14 other professional nurses and a number of people from religious institutions. When Florence returned from the Crimea, she was very much in demand, and received many social invitations, but refused them all. Although tired, she still wanted to continue with her work. She was concentrating on working for the reform of the Army Medical Services where she wanted to set up a Royal Commission.
Although she had become tired and slightly ill, she still managed to work hard and turned all her attention to the Nightingale Training School. While she had to go back home to care for her parents and her sister, she still worked on the reconstruction of the Nightingale School. Her parent’s sickness became worse and the only way for her to keep control of the school was by writing letters or paying visits when she could.
Nightingale was now left to enjoy her old age. She received an award which was a great honor because it was the first time it had been given to a woman. When people read about this great victory, she received many letters of congratulations and flowers. August of 1910, Florence Nightingale passed. She requested to not have a National funeral and to be buried alongside her parents at East Wellow.
Florence Nightingale was an extremely important leader during the Crimean war and long after as well. What many might not know about this highly dedicated woman is there is an unusual part about her. Florence once noted “A small pet animal is often an excellent companion for the sick…”
Since then, the medical profession has encouraged the use of animal companionship as a means to improve human health. Florence has been reported to carry a small owl with her that she named “Athena.” She carried the owl for years during the Crimean War. She also kept a pet tortoise in her pocket that she named “Jimmy” and took around with her when she traveled. This is weird because most people leave their pets at home, however Florence kept it with her for luck.
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