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Florence Nightingale at First Hand

Edited by Lynn McDonald
Subjects Biography & Autobiography, Social Science, Women’s Studies, History
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Paperback : 9781554581917, 216 pages, March 2010

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Florence Nightingale at First Hand by Lynn McDonald
List of Figures
List of Illustrations
Dramatis Personae
A Quick Sketch of Florence Nightingale’s Life
1. The Making of Florence Nightingale
Faith and Church
Domestic Arrangements, Friends, the Arts
Illness and Working Style
Companion Animals and Love of Nature
Last Days, Will and Death
2. The Social Reformer
Science, Law and Probability
Social Class, Government and Politics
Women and Family
Suggestions for Thought
3. War
The Crimean War
Nightingale’s “Confidential Report”
War Office Reform
The Geneva Convention, the Franco-Prussian War and Militarism
Militarism and the Causes of War
4. Health Care, Nursing and Midwifery
Nightingale’s Approach to Health and Healing
The Nightingale System of Nursing
The Influence of Nightingale Nursing Worldwide
The Evolution of Nursing Practice
Midwifery Training and Maternity Care
District Nursing
5. Workhouse Infirmaries and Hospitals
Workhouse Infirmary Reform
Safer Hospitals
6. India and Empire
Imperialism, Racism and Independence
Indian Women
7. Nightingale’s Legacy
Recommended Sources on Florence Nightingale


Florence Nightingale is one of the most famous figures in modern history, yet questions have been raised as to her real achievements. Much of what we know of her emanates from unreliable second-hand accounts and from a misreading of the primary sources.
Based on her writings, Florence Nightingale at First Hand lets the legendary founder of nursing and heroine of the Crimean War speak for herself. Author Lynn McDonald is the editor of the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale (WLU Press) and the world’s foremost Nightingale authority. Chapters relate Nightingale’s background, her faith and political creed, her work during Crimean War and its aftermath, on later wars, and on reform in nursing, health care, midwifery, workhouses, hospitals, and India.
Published to commemorate the centenary of Nightingale’s death, this book presents a Florence Nightingale for the twenty-first century: she was a prodigiously astute researcher, a bold systems thinker, and a witty writer well connected with political and intellectual leaders. Her passionate dedication to her causes shines through her writing, making this book a great read.


This is the best short study of Florence Nightingale available and a welcome addition to the literature for Nightingale's centenary year.

- Mark Bostridge, author of Florence Nightingale: The Women and Her Legend, 2010 February

Justly famous as the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale's fame has endured from the 1950s until today. The two books under review here provide ample evidence as to why this should be so. As both author and editor Lynn McDonald has spent much of her professional career probing virtually every aspect of Nightingale's ninety years of life. And what an amazingly productive life it was, which Nightingale's sixteen-volume Collected Works—edited principally by McDonald—makes clear. But if the received public image of Nightingale continues to be that of the Lady of the Lamp,” then both her own Suggestions for Thought and McDonald's short biography—published to mark the centenary of Nightingale's death—show her to have been a hard-headed, clear-thinking reformer, in addition to a heroic nurse.... 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, Tyndale University College, Toronto, Anglican and Episcopal History, Vol. 81 (1), March 2012, 2012 April

The author carefully documents each aspect of Nightingale's life and writings.... Clear and comprehensive.... This firsthand look at Nightingale also should serve as a catalyst for experienced researchers interested in pursuing additional resources, in both the collected works and among secondary sources, to more fully understand Nightingale's considerable influence.... Recommended.

- M.P. Tarbox, Mount Mercy College, Choice, November 2010, 2010 November