Florence Nightingale Museum in London


I have been meaning to write a post about the Florence Nightingale Museum in London for quite a while.
I finally went and visited it when last in London, althought I have been meaning to go for years. It’s not really easy to find and is in an area where I only went to take the Eurostar back to Paris, when it was still at Waterloo Station.
This time, I made room for it in my plans.

Florence Nightingale bust

One of the few photos one is allowed to take

It’s a small museum but it has interesting memorabilia and shows a couple of informative videos.
I watched them with two other women, and at the end, one of them said:

I can’t resist asking! Are you a nurse?

When I said I wasn’t, both she and her friend were quite surprised and asked me what had brought me there.
So, I thought it over and replied that I had always been fascinated by women of the past centuries who, in spite of everything that society expected from them, had managed to achieve their plans and accomplish their dreams. And Florence Nightingale was certainly one of those.
In those days, nurses were certainly not well considered and no one from a “good” family would expect their daughter to become one.
But Florence had a dream and, probably due to the Crimean War, changed what nursing and hospitals were all about. Modern nursing and hospitals owe her a lot.
One detail that really amused me was the fact that her parents called her Florence, because she was born in Florence, Italy, while her sister, who was born in Naples, was called Parthenope, the ancient name of Naples. One feels relieved that they didn’t have more children as one wonders what they would have been called! 😉

My thanks to Autolycus for mentioning the link to the recording of Florence Nightingale’s voice, which can be found at the British Library Sound archive. Quite moving!

7 thoughts on “Florence Nightingale Museum in London

  1. That’s another thing I’ve learned from your blog. I remember reading the story of Florence Nightingale in ‘Girl’ comic when I was a child.
    It explained why she was called Florence but her sister was referred to as ‘Parthe’ so I assumed it was short for parthenon and that she’d been born in Athens.

  2. Oh, I would love to see this too! One of my favorite mystery series features a 19th century English nurse, Hester Latterly, who has been inspired by Nightingale. The series is by Anne Perry. Hester has learned her skills firsthand at the Crimean War, but when she returns, has to fight against the society’s notion of nurses as slatternly ignorant people who only clean up after the doctors. Also against the doctors, who often do not recognize her expertise!

  3. Her other great claim to fame is that she was the first person to apply statistics as we know it today. Her great innovation was not so much in nursing as such (she wasn’t the only one) or in systematic nurse education, as what we now call “evidence-based medicine”. No-one before her had demonstrated with hard figures and graphics and charts that soldiers were dying far more from disease caused by poor hygiene than from wounds or in battle.

    Do they have the recording of her voice that’s in the British Library?

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