Today on International Nurses Day we proudly celebrate our nurses on what would have been Florence Nightingale’s 200th Birthday, one of the most famous nurses, and founder of modern nursing.
Since 1965, the International Council of Nurses have celebrated on this day. So much more poignant as we are still in the midst of the Corona Virus, and we clap our NHS carers every Thursday evening.
Florence Nightingale – the nurse and social reformer who transformed medical treatment in the field of battle during the Crimean War in the 1850s was well-known for her emphasis on hand-washing to prevent the transmission of infection at a time when this was not common practice.
The Pioneer of Modern Nursing
Best known for her care of soldiers during the Crimean War and for pioneering modern medicine, Florence Nightingale pushed to raise the standards of nursing and educating nurses on practices, such as good hygiene and handwashing and in 1860 Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school in London. Her social reforms included improving healthcare for all sections of British society, advocating better hunger relief in India, helping to change the prostitution laws that were harsh for women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce. She passed away in her sleep on 13 August 1910, at the age of 90.
A Timely Discovery at Bodmin Keep
Here at Bodmin Keep, we have unearthed a unique item in its archive. It is a handwritten letter from Florence Nightingale, well-known for her emphasis on hand-washing to prevent the transmission of infection at a time when this was not common practice. Today, with the Nightingale hospitals created to accommodate people suffering from Covid 19, her legacy and name is once again in the public eye so it’s a very timely find.
The museum’s Collections Manager Verity Anthony said:
‘The letter rediscovered in the museum archive was written by Florence Nightingale to the relative of an injured soldier when she was at Scutari Hospital during the Crimean War of the 1850s. The reason it’s in the museum’s collection is that the 46th Regiment of Foot she refers to in the letter is one of the ancestral regiments of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. It’s amazing to hold something like this in your hand and we’re delighted to have rediscovered it this year, the 200th anniversary of her birth.’
The discovery of the letter has also inspired us to make the next edition of ‘Keep Kids’ learning resource all about Women in War. It features the stories of women in war from Victorian times to the present day, including local Boer War campaigner Emily Hobhouse (you can read more about her here) and museum team member Rhonda Seymour who served as a medic with the Territorial Army. You can download Keep Kids Women in War from 14th May.
You can find out more about Florence Nightingale by visiting the Florence Nightingale Museum website which has a special exhibition to mark her bicentenary .
Transcript of the letter reads:
April 30 / 55
I am exceedingly happy to be able to inform you that on the 29th of last month, Alfred Phillips, of the 46th Regt. was alive with his regiment in the Crimea, since when we have no account of him. I hope therefore that your information is mistaken – as he was certainly alive when it was dated. I would recommend you to write to him at his Regiment in the Crimea.
PS. I will write to the Adjutant of his Regiment & ask for all information concerning him, & forward it to you next post as I am going up to the Crimea myself this week.
5 Upper Cast ….