Although Florence Nightingale is famous as a nurse, her lifetime’s writing on nursing is scarcely known in the profession. Nursing professors tend to “look to the future, not to the past,” and often ignore her or rely on faulty secondary sources.
Nightingale’s work on nursing is now available to scholars and general readers alike through the publication of volumes 12 and 13 in the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale. Volume 12, The Nightingale School, relates the founding of her school at St Thomas’ Hospital and her guidance of its teaching for the rest of her life. Volume 13, Extending Nursing, relates the introduction of professional training and standards outside St Thomas’, beginning with London hospitals and others in Britain, followed by hospitals in Europe, America, Australia and Canada.
As medical knowledge progressed, nursing practice changed and Nightingale with it. Her evolving views on nursing, and on germ theory (typically misrepresented in the literature), are revealed.
In this volume, editor Lynn McDonald brings to light much unknown material on the early years of the school. The crisis of its near breakdown in the early 1870s is covered, followed by the measures Nightingale brought in to improve instruction, including her mentoring relationships with emerging nursing leaders. Nursing historians may be surprised to learn that Nightingale was keeping up on best operating theatre practices in 1898. Struggles with cost-conscious hospital administrators are part of the story, as is the challenge to keep nurses safe at a time when hospitals were dangerous places. /p
``The details and explications of her views. ..are presented in carefully annotated and insightful editorial discussions. ...[These volumes] provide a more complete understanding of this complex woman, extending our appreciation of her much beyond the `The Lady with the Lamp' legend. ... The product of rigorous scholarship, of meticulous historical research--and a labour of love. ''- Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, Volume 21/1, 2004
``[I]t is clear that this is an academic project of the highest importance and integrity. It will have an impact on the work of scholars far beyond the immediate field of health history. Nightingale's interests were wide-ranging and her correspondence included some of the leading thinkers of her day. ...The editing of these volumes is exemplary. Every reference has been followed up, including the identification of minor dramatis personae. Important personalities are accorded short biographies. On every page there are biblical allusions, which are faithfully identified. Each thematic section has an introductory essay and these are amplified by a full outline of Nightingale's life and thought in volume 1. This project makes a major contribution to scholarship which will be of permanent value. ''- Helen Mathers, University of Sheffield, Ecclesiastical History
``The Nightingale project ranks with both the Gladstone diaries and the Disraeli letters as a major undertaking in the field of Victorian-era scholarship, and therefore is of surpassing value to historians of the period, as well as to general readers. ''- C. Brad Faught, Anglican and Episcopal History, Vol. 81 (1), March 2012
``The Collected Works will allow us to see for the first time the full complexity of this extraordinary and multifacted woman. It will be a tool of enormous value not only to Nightgale scholars and biographers, but also to historians of a wide variety of aspects of Victorian society: war, the army, public health nursing, religion, India, women's issues and so on. ''- Mark Bostridge, Times Literary Supplement, January 10, 2003
``The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale is an extremely ambitious project that is a great service to scholarship. Every general academic library should own the complete set. It pulls together material that has been hitherto diffused across more than 150 collections, some of them private ones, in places ranging from Germany to India and Japan, as well as numerous English-speaking countries. ''- Timothy Larsen, Books and Culture, November/December 2008