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Florence Nightingale on Society and Politics, Philosophy, Science, Education and Literature

Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, Volume 5

Lynn McDonald

Publication Year: 2003

Florence Nightingale on Society and Politics, Philosophy, Science, Education and Literature, Volume 5 in the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, is the main source of Nightingale’s work on the methodology of social science and her views on social reform. Here we see how she took her “call to service” into practice: by first learning how the laws of God’s world operate, one can then determine how to intervene for good. There is material on medical statistics, the census, pauperism and Poor Law reform, the need for income security measures and better housing, on crime, gender and the family. Her comments on a new edition of The Dialogues of Plato are given, with their impact on the revision of the next edition. We see Nightingale’s condemnation of Plato’s “community of wives,” with her stirring approval of love (even outside marriage!), marriage and the family. In this volume also her views on natural science, education and literature are reported.

Nightingale was an astute behind-the-scenes political activist. Society and Politics publishes (much of it for the first time) her correspondence with such leading political figures as Queen Victoria, W.E. Gladstone and J.S. Mill. There are notes and essays on public administration and personal observations on various members of royalty, prime ministers and ministers, and Indian viceroys. Nightingale’s support of the vote for women (contrary to much in the secondary literature) is here shown. Correspondence and notes on British general elections from 1834 to 1900 is reported, with letters to and for (Liberal) political candidates and fierce condemnations of Conservatives.

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.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Collected Works of Florence Nightingale

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments are due first to the Henry Bonham Carter Will Trust for permission to publish Nightingale original manuscripts, and indeed for treating Nightingale material generally as being in the public domain. To the owners of Nightingale manuscripts thanks are due for their important role in conservation, for permitting scholarly access and for permitting ...

Dramatis Personae

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p. xi-xi

List of Illustrations

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p. xii-xii

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Florence Nightingale: A Précis of the Collected Works

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pp. xiii-xiv

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence 12 May 1820, of wealthy English parents whose European wedding trip lasted nearly three years and included extended stays in Naples (where her older sister was born and given the Greek name of that city, Parthenope) and Florence. The two daughters were raised in England at country homes, Lea Hurst, in Derbyshire, and Embley, ...

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Introduction to Volume 5

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pp. 1-4

Society and Politics is the main volume reporting Nightingale’s work as a social reformer and its intellectual foundations. Public Health Care, which follows, is a companion volume, reporting social reform work in her main field of activity, the establishment of a public health care system. There are also two volumes each on nursing proper, war and India, and one volume on hospital reform, ...

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Key to Editing

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pp. 5-8

All the manuscript material in the Collected Works 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 to indicate our best reading of the word or words in question. Dates for material cited or reproduced are given wherever possible, ...

Society: Essays, Letters and Notes on Social Physics and Social Statistics

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Nightingale’s Quetelet

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pp. 11-128

The key to understanding Florence Nightingale’s social science is the methodology of the Belgian statistician, L.A.J. Quetelet, her mentor in all matters statistical and, more broadly, methodological. We begin then with what she acquired from him and how she built on it. It was his methodology or philosophy of science that gave Nightingale a positive, constructive alternative ...

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Social Policy, Poverty, Poor Law and Charity

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pp. 129-276

Nightingale’s paper on pauperism, published in Fraser’s Magazine, 1869, is her only publication on broad social policy. It is a remarkably progressive statement and indeed an early contribution to what would be termed "Christian socialism" in Britain and the "social gospel" in the United States and Canada. The paper includes the usual complaints about wasting money on poor relief and ...

Politics: Essays, Notes and Letters

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Government, Public Policy and Elections

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pp. 279-328

The essay "Politics and Public Administration" was never published and was perhaps never intended to be. In excellent, amusing Nightingale style, it contains an odd assortment of points, including substantive comments on Army reorganization, colonial policy and disparities in wealth by social class, and such matters of political process as the management of Cabinet and the role of the ...

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Elections and Party Politics

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pp. 329-368

Party politics were part of the atmosphere in which Nightingale grew up. Her grandfather, an MP for forty-six years, supported political rights for non-conformists, toleration of Jews and abolition of the slave trade. Nightingale was proud of his causes, especially the abolition of the slave trade. Her father held liberal, democratic views but gave up on elected politics after he was defeated on his first ...

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Political Notables: Letters and Notes

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pp. 369-548

John Stuart Mill and Quetelet were Nightingale’s two great mentors on matters philosophical and methodological. Mill’s influence began earlier (she read him when growing up) and led on to a number of different subjects. As well as law, free will and necessity, the subject of her first letter to him, they worked together on Poor Law reform, notably the introduction of professional nursing ...

Philosophy, Science, Education and Literature

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pp. 551-644

Benjamin Jowett’s famous translation of the Dialogues of Plato, with lengthy introductions, has gone through many editions and is still used.1 What is not generally known is that Nightingale was extensively consulted for the wide-ranging revisions for the second edition and by far the greater part of her recommendations were adopted. The selections here present her comments, ...

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Natural Science

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pp. 645-662

Nightingale had a good layperson’s acquaintance with science. In her teen years she made notes on scientific discoveries and inventions. A notebook from 1836 has survived with copious lists, several examples of which are given below. She kept up with scientific advances and controversies (for example, Darwin on natural selection). She was interested in scientific method, as the items ...

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pp. 663-724

If Nightingale had not become a nurse, she might have become a schoolteacher! In the long years her family did not permit her even to study nursing, she found an outlet for her calling to service in teaching poor children in ragged schools and young women in evening classes. At home she coached her cousin, Shore, and taught Greek and algebra to Hugh Bonham Carter in 1845.1 She joked about ...

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pp. 725-808

Nightingale owned a sizable library of books, on history, literature, religion and science as well as on work-related medical books and sanitary reports. She frequently borrowed and exchanged books with colleagues. She bought and gave books to nurses’ homes, reading rooms for soldiers and workers (notably at Lea Hurst). Correspondence in the section on education, above, recounts gifts ...

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Non-human Species, Love of Nature, Birds

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pp. 809-824

One suspects that Nightingale would have become a good amateur field naturalist if she had not been confined to her sickroom. Certainly her love of nature shines through these short notes, even if her enjoyment had to be largely vicarious, the view from her window. Her appreciation of trees and flowers is evident, her love of birds especially so. Early in life she told her cousin, ...


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pp. 827-838


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pp. 839-848


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pp. 849-871

E-ISBN-13: 9780889207073
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889204294
Print-ISBN-10: 0889204292

Page Count: 896
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Collected Works of Florence Nightingale