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Florence Nightingale: An Introduction to Her Life and Family

Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, Volume 1

Lynn McDonald

Publication Year: 2010

Florence Nightingale: An Introduction to Her Life and Family introduces the Collected Works by giving an overview of Nightingale’s life and the faith that guided it and by outlining the main social reform concerns on which she worked from her “call to service’’ at age sixteen to old age. This volume reports correspondence (selected from the thousands of surviving letters) with her mother, father and sister and a wide extended family. There is material on Nightingale’s “domestic arrangements,’’ from recipes, cat care and relations with servants to her contributions to charities, church and social reform causes. Much new and original material comes to light, and a remarkably different portrait of Nightingale, one with a more nuanced view of her family relationships, emerges.

Currently, Volumes 1 to 11 are available in e-book version by subscription or from university and college libraries through the following vendors: Canadian Electronic Library, Ebrary, MyiLibrary, and Netlibrary.

The Series

In the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale all the surviving writing of Florence Nightingale will be published, much of it for the first time. Known as the heroine of the Crimean War and the major founder of the modern profession of nursing, Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) will be revealed also as a scholar, theorist and social reformer of enormous scope and importance.

Original material has been obtained from over 150 archives and private collections worldwide. This abundance of material will be reflected in the series, revealing a significant amount of new material on her philosophy, theology and personal spiritual journey, as well as on her vision of a public health care system, her activism to achieve the difficult early steps of nursing for the sick poor in workhouse infirmaries and her views on health promotion and women’s control over midwifery. Nightingale’s more than forty years of work for public health in India, particularly in famine prevention and for broader social reform, will be reported in detail.

The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale demonstrates Nightingale’s astute use of the political process and reports on her extensive correspondence with royalty, viceroys, cabinet ministers and international leaders, including such notables as Queen Victoria and W. E. Gladstone. Much new material on Nightingale’s family is reported, including some that will challenge her standard portrayal in the secondary literature. Sixteen printed volumes are scheduled and will record her enormous and largely unpublished correspondence, previously published books, articles and pamphlets, many of which have long been out of print.

There will be full publication in electronic form, permitting readers to easily pursue their particular interests. Extensive databases, notably a chronology and a names index, will also be published in electronic form, again permitting convenient access to persons interested not only in Nightingale but in other figures of the time.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Collected Works of Florence Nightingale


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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments are due to a large number of individuals and organizations for assistance on this volume, and even more for assistance at various stages in the Collected Works project. To the Henry Bonham Carter Will Trust thanks go for permission to publish Nightingale original...

Dramatis Personae

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p. xi-xi

List of Illustrations

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pp. xii

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Introduction to the Collected Works

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pp. 1-6

It is an astonishing fact that there has been up to now no Collected Works of such an important thinker and influential social refor mer as Florence Nightingale. Yet she was a legend in her own time (1820-1910), described as the second most famous woman in Britain after Queen Victoria....

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Thematic Organization

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pp. 7-11

Nightingale’s writing covers such a range of topics, with likely quite dif ferent readers in the different areas, that the decision was made early on to organize the Collected Works thematically rather than by the usual classification by type of work...

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Electronic and Print Publication

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pp. 12-14

Publication will be comprehensive in electronic form, that is, all published and unpublished works will be included. The first treatment of manuscript texts is called ‘‘I-texts,’’ or texts input to follow as closely as possible the original writing. Thus all abbreviations are kept as they were, as are aberrant punctuation...

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An Outline of Florence Nightingale’s Life

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pp. 15-18

Nightingale’s parents were married on 1 June 1818 by an evangelical priest, Dr William Dealtrey,1 rector of the parish church of Clapham Common, at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster (next door to Westminster Abbey), then and now a favourite venue for fashionable weddings....

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Faith and Church

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pp. 19

Florence Nightingale was raised in the Church of England; she was baptized while an infant in Florence, and attended church (or chapel) regularly as a child. The family had been Unitarian on both sides and some relatives maintained that adherence; but it seems that neither of her parents did after their...

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Early Writing: Suggestions for Thought (1852-60)

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pp. 20-22

The first writing Nightingale ever published, and that anonymously, was a short essay, ‘‘The Institution of Kaiserswerth’’ (1851), after her first visit there in 1850 (see European Travels. Her first substantial writing dates from 1852, a sixty-five-page draft of...

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Celibacy and Suitors

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pp. 23-25

Nightingale’s decision not to marry was a logical consequence of the call to service. At that time of course there were no effective means of contraception, so that the very life and health of a wife were entirely subject to forces beyond her control...

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First Work in Nursing: Harley Street (1853-54)

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pp. 26

Nightingale made a visit to the Daughters (often called Sisters) of Charity of St-Vincent-de-Paul in Paris just prior to her taking up her first, and only civilian, appointment as a nurse in August 1853. The Kaiserswer th and Paris experiences led to this appointment as superintendent of the ‘‘Institution for Ill Gentlewomen...

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The Crimean War (1854-56)

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pp. 27-30

The Crimean War was fought between Russia and Turkey, with Britain, France and, later, Sardinians from the emerging Italian republic joining Turkey against Russia. British and French troops invaded the Crimea 14 September 1854 and the Battle of Alma was fought on 20 September....

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First Royal Commission, on the Army (1856-59)

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pp. 31-32

Nightingale was the key player on all the stages of the royal commission from its establishment, choice of membership and terms of reference, through the conduct of its work. She undertook such particular tasks as rehearsing intervenors, largely got the recommendations she and her team sought and then...

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Illness and Invalidism

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pp. 33-35

Neither Nightingale nor her contemporaries ever knew the name or the medical details of the disease, brucellosis, that, to the best of our knowledge today, nearly killed her in the Crimean War, and which retur ned in its chronic phase...

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Second Royal Commission, on India (1858-63)

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pp. 36-38

Nightingale’s first involvement with India was prompted by the Bengali mutiny of 1857, or the First War of Independence, as Indian nationalists would later call it. She offered to go to nurse the injured soldiers, but her services were not needed and she herself quickly learned that the murders by the Bengalis...

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Working Style (1859-99)

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pp. 39-42

There is much of a sameness about Nightingale’s life after her second royal commission. She was effectively now an invalid for life. She stayed in her rooms, received visitors, normally only one at a time and by appointment, mainly her inner circle of co-workers. Blue books and other official documents...

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Opposition to Registration of Nurses (1887-94)

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pp. 43

Nightingale lost the concerted battle she waged late in her life on the registration of nurses. Nursing for her was an art as well as a science, a calling more than a profession. In a paper she sent to the Congress on Women’s Work in Chicago 1893,61 she referred to nursing in all of these terms. Statements she...

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Domestic Arrangements and Expenditures

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pp. 43-45

Nightingale was a gentlewoman: that is, she never worked for pay, cooked her own meals, shopped, cleaned or did her own laundry; from girlhood she had her own maid. Her death certificate described he...

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pp. 46

The question is frequently asked how one can like such a paragon of virtue or such a dedicated maniac for work, or the assertion is simply made that ‘‘you cannot really like her, however much you might admire her.’’ True, Nightingale...

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The Arts

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pp. 47-48

Nightingale’s privileged upbringing included a rich introduction to the arts. As a girl she was given music and art lessons, she attended concerts and was taken to the greatest art museums in the Western world. She was ‘‘music mad’’ for opera...

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Love of Nature and Companion Animals

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pp. 48-49

Nightingale was always fond of animals—there were birds and squirrels at her country homes—and she always had pets, especially cats. Her first ‘‘patient’’ as a child was an injured...

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Death Rituals

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pp. 50-51

In the Victorian period death was openly discussed and people took leave of each other when the time was approaching. Some of Nightingale’s letters at impending death are deeply moving (see Theology). She gave a great deal of attention to her friends’ and nursing colleagues’ last illnesses. There is much...

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Last Days, Will and Death

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pp. 52-54

Nightingale made her first will while ill and close to death in the Crimea. On return but again ill in 1857 she wanted to be buried in the Crimea, with the dead soldiers, those who weren’t there. She expected to die in 1859...


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Law, Probability and Application

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pp. 55-56

Fundamental to Nightingale’s philosophy and informing all her major writing is a notion of a created world run by laws, natural and social. This she described, briefly, as early as her Letters....

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Positivism and Idealism

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pp. 57

Nightingale’s philosophy of science is clearly in the positivist tradition, understood as the acquisition of knowledge through research in the real world, as opposed to intuition, introspection or reliance on authority. Yet Nightingale in some of...

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pp. 58

It will be clear throughout this Collected Works that Nightingale’s enormously positive understanding of God (a God of law) underlay all her theoretical and practical work. It is indeed for this reason that the next two volumes in this series...

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Natural Science

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pp. 58-59

For Nightingale the laws of natural and social science were fundamentally similar: both were the work of God and both were open to human discovery through use of the scientific method, induction from research results. She held, further...

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The Italian Connection

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pp. 60

It is well to bear the ‘‘Italian connection’’ in mind when trying to make sense of Nightingale, especially her politics. Not only did she continue to identify with the city of her birth, she read and was influenced by its great authors and loved...

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Government and Politics

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pp. 61-62

Nightingale lived at a time when the reigning political orthodoxy was classical laissez-fair e liberalism, or what would, by the late twentieth century, be called conservatism for its denial of a significant role for government. She rejected that approach...

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The Family and Individuals

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pp. 63

Nightingale never did any scholarly work on the family so her observations, including a full essay and the autobiographical ‘‘Cassandra,’’ are very much a pouring out of her frustrations with the limitations her own family imposed, which were typical...

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Social Class and Caste

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pp. 64-68

From early in life Nightingale was appalled by the enormous disparities in wealth between people such as her family and the great mass of people, when the large majority owned no property and enjoyed few comforts, and nearly one third...

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Gender Roles and Status of Women

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pp. 69-73

Nightingale held that women had the same rights to develop their abilities, to become perfect, in her terms, as men. She herself seems to have been remarkably free of gender role stereotyping. When she wanted women to become nurses...

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Empire and Imperialism

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pp. 74

Nightingale lived during a period of enormous imperial expansion and consolidation. India came under the direct rule of the British gover nment, from the East India Company, in 1858; Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress in 1876. The desirability, or not, of British imperialism seems never to...

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War and Militarism

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pp. 75-79

It is a great irony that the idealistic Nightingale, who wanted to shed her own blood, identifying with the crucifixion of...

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Approach to Health Care

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pp. 80-83

A more holistic approach to health and a concern for health promotion rather than the cure of disease became fashionable in the late twentieth century. These were Nightingale’s concerns throughout her life and they permeate her writings from official repor ts on the health of the Army to advice to mothers...

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pp. 84

These are the themes that will appear throughout the Collected Works, beginning with the family correspondence below, for Nightingale discussed her ideas, hopes and ongoing work with family members. Collaborators became friends in...

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Key to Editing

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pp. 85-88

The material in this volume has been carefully transcribed and verified (see the electronic text for a full description of the process). Remaining illegible words and passages are so indicated, with [illeg], or [?] inserted...

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Family Life

The correspondence to, from and about family members selected here represents a small fraction of the extant letters, in each case of representative material. Letters to Nightingale’s family also appear in European Travels (notably her letters from Greece and Rome, which are newsy and cheerful...

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Nightingale’s "Lebenslauf" for Kaiserswerth

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pp. 90-93

I had a sickly childhood. The climate of England did not suit me, after that of Italy (Florence) where I was born. I could never like the play of other children. But the happiest time of my life was during a year’s illness which I had when I was six years old. I...

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Notes on Her Parents and Sister

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pp. 94-100

A most difficult character to do, and its difficulty arises from its very simplicity. To be all made up of impulse and no calculation, ‘‘to be all made of faith and service, to be all made of phantasy, all humbleness, all patience and impatience...

Letters to, from and about Nightingale’s Immediate Family

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Mother, Frances "Fanny" Nightingale

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pp. 101-217

The letters to her mother begin when Nightingale was aged seven (the first ones are printed). They reveal a happy child reporting to her mother on practical matters of health, church, reading, games, exercise and the well-being and comings or goings of other family members, friends and employees...

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Father, W.E. Nightingale

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pp. 218-277

Editor: Nightingale’s correspondence with her father here concerns general family matters, especially their own relationship (letters to her father on religion are reported in Theology, on politics and housing in Society and Politics). It will be immediately...

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Sister, Parthenope, Lady Verney

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pp. 278-408

Editor: The ill feeling between Nightingale and her sister Parthenope is so well known that what might be interesting in this correspondence is the extent of good will, attempts at understanding, offers of love and, later, actual reconciliation. The surviving...

Letters to, from and about Nightingale’s Extended Family

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Grandmother, Mary Shore

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pp. 409-424

Nightingale frequently visited her paternal grandmother, Mary (Evans) Shore, who lived at Tapton Grove, in the pleasant, rural outskirts of Sheffield. She nursed her grandmother Shore several times in serious illness and came back from Paris to attend to her in her last days. She held...

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The Bonham Carter Family

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pp. 425-457

Editor: The first two letters are to a cousin who died in childhood only a few months after the second one....

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The Nicholson Family

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pp. 458-472

Editor: Strains in relations between the Nightingale and Nicholson families are evident from early in Nightingale’s childhood. Apart fro m those shared with her parents and sister, Nightingale encountered disapproval in 1843 when she declined...

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The Smith Family

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pp. 473-559

Editor: Many more letters to Uncle Sam and Aunt Mai will appear in other sections of this Collected Works (on war, nursing, Theology and Suggestions for Thought) and see the biographical sketch in Appendix A. The correspondence reported here deals...

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The Verney Family

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pp. 560-716

The letters here deal only with family and personal matters. Numerous others are included in Theology, Public Health Care, Society and Politics, Women and the volumes on war, nursing and hospital...

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Godchildren and Namesakes

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pp. 717-730

Editor: Quite apart from her many godchildren and namesakes from after the Crimean War, Nightingale had two godchildren before she became famous: Florence Howe later Hall (1845-1922), daughter of her friends Dr Samuel Gridley Howe...

Domestic Arrangements

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Food Orders and Recipes

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pp. 731-741

Nightingale was a nurse with strong views on nutrition. No ascetic, she served good food to her relatives, friends and co-workers and enjoyed it herself whenever possible. She had difficulties with food when ill, so that there is much concern about getting food that she could eat. The...

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Expenditures and Donations

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pp. 742-754

There are several surviving account books Nightingale kept, for 1853 (Add Mss 43403A), 1862-64 (43403B), 1865 (43403C) and her diar y for 1877, with interspersed pages for accounts (Add Mss 45847). These detailed accounts for 1877, while Nightingale...

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Cat Care

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pp. 755-765

Editor: Nightingale, although a bird lover, was a devoted cat owner throughout her life. The items begin with instructions (to whom is not stated) for the (deluxe) care of a par ticular cat, Mr Bismark. (Although undoubtedly named after Prince von Bismarck, the militaristic German chancellor, we distinguish...

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Letters to, for and about Domestic Employees

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pp. 766-802

Editor: The first set of letters concerns the finding, keeping and looking after domestic employees, a subject to which the Nightingales, Verneys and all their relatives and friends devoted many letters. Only a small fraction are published here...

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"Waifs and Strays"

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pp. 803-826

Editor: The following correspondence is but a small sample from the vast number of surviving letters giving practical assistance and advice to the enormous range of people who called on Nightingale. Her assumption of a caseload began....

Appendix A: Biographical Sketches

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pp. 827-842

Appendix B: The Rise and Fall of Florence Nightingale’s Reputation

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pp. 843-847

Appendix C: Florence Nightingale’s Family Tree

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pp. 848-851

Appendix D: Florence Nightingale’s Last Will and Codicils

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pp. 852-861

Appendix E: Research Methods and Sources

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pp. 862-874


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pp. 875-884


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pp. 885-907

E-ISBN-13: 9780889207042
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889203877

Page Count: 928
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Collected Works of Florence Nightingale