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born 1820

Her name may be synonymous with nursing excellence, but Florence Nightingale almost didn't get to be one. Instead, her wealthy parents wanted her to do the respectable thing...marry a gentleman. Fortunately, Florence held firm to her calling. 

Known for her compassionate care of wounded soldiers amidst the brutality of the Crimean War, she improved medicine as a whole. Her detailed analysis of how unsanitary conditions spread disease led to major hospital reforms. An illness contracted during the war took Florence out of the field at age 38. Bedridden, she wrote a definitive textbook + founded a nursing school ~ transforming her profession into something even well-to-do women were proud to do.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Florence Nightingale (15)

"I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions, and into actions which bring results."

letter to Mary Clark | 1844

"How very little can be done under the spirit of fear."

The Life of Florence Nightingale, Volume I | may 1846

"God called me in the morning and asked me would I do good for him alone without reputation."

quoted in The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale | march 1850

"For the sick it is important to have the best."

State of the Hospitals of the British Army in Crimea and Scutari | february 1855

"It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a Hospital that it should do the sick no harm."

Notes on Hospitals | 1859

"Volumes are now written and spoken upon the effect of the mind upon the body...I wish a little more was thought of the effect of the body on the mind."

Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not | 1859

"And as a wise man has said, no one has ever done anything great or useful by listening to the voices from without."

Notes on Nursing ~ What it is, and what it is not | 1860

"You want to do the thing that is good, whether it is 'suitable for a woman' or not."

Notes on Nursing ~ What it is, and what it is not | 1860

"God always justifies His ways. While we are thinking, He has been teaching."

Notes on Nursing ~ What it is, and what it is not | 1860

"Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion. Remember he is face to face with his enemy all the time."

Notes on Nursing: What it is, and what it is not | 1860

"I do not pretend to teach her how, I ask her to teach herself, and for this purpose I venture to give her some hints."

Notes on Nursing ~ What it is, and what it is not | 1860

"Every woman, or at least almost every woman, in England has, at one time or another of her life, charge of the personal health of somebody, whether child or invalid, ~ in other words, every woman is a nurse."

Notes on Nursing - What it is, and what it is not | 1860

"Every woman is a nurse."

Notes on Nursing ~ What it is, and what it is not | 1860

"Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires as exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God's spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts; I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts."

Una and the Lion | june 1868

"The first possibility of rural cleanliness lies in water supply."

to the Medical Officer of Health {quoted in Florence Nightingale by Cecil Woodham Smith} | november 1891
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curated with care by Kathleen Murray {september 2014}