|The Nightingale Society|
|Newsletter||21 July 2012|
From Lynn McDonald,
Director, The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale
16 July 2012
I am writing to invite your support for a new society, The Nightingale Society, to promote understanding of Florence Nightingale’s work and to defend her when, as now, her massive contributions to nursing and public health are under attack.
My own work publishing Nightingale’s writing is coming to an end: Hospital Reform, Volume 16, will be out later this year. Yet the many volumes reporting what Nightingale actually did and wrote has made not a dent on the attacks. The latest one is recent: in the British Medical Journal in March 2012.
The enormous efforts to promote Mary Seacole as the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’ Hospital, Nightingale’s hospital, proceed. The erection of a massive bronze statue of Seacole has been approved, both by the board of the Guy’s St Thomas’ NHS Trust (in 2007) without consultation, on the basis of flagrantly false information; and then the site approved by the Lambeth Planning Committee, in April 2012, a decision based entirely on technical assessment of the site, not the merits of the claim that Seacole was the “Pioneer Nurse.”
For the misinformation campaign see www.maryseacole.info.
Let me make it clear that neither I nor any of the people supporting The Nightingale Society oppose honouring Seacole, but rather her designation as “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas Hospital, site of Nightingale’s school for more than a century, base of her more than 40 years of work promoting nursing throughout the world, and a hospital whose design Nightingale herself significantly influenced.
Proposed now is the formation of The Nightingale Society, an organization to exist largely through the internet. The sad fact is that no organization linked to Nightingale has considered it part of its mandate to defend her against what have been often been nasty and certainly groundless attacks: not the Florence Nightingale Foundation, the Florence Nightingale Museum, the Nightingale Fellowship or the Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery. Nor for that matter did the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale as such defend her, although I spoke out as an individual—the role of the Collected Works is strictly academic, as the other organizations have their own distinct objects.
The Nightingale Society promotes knowledge of the great contribution to nursing and public health reform made by Florence Nightingale and its relevance today, and defends her reputation and legacy when necessary.
Launch: It is proposed that the society be launched on August 7 2012, the day (in 1856) that Nightingale returned to England after the Crimean War, the date she recognized as the beginning of her reform work.
The Nightingale Society: What It Is and What It Is Not
What It Is
- The Nightingale Society is committed to promoting knowledge of Nightingale’s work and its relevance in nursing, public health, hospitals, statistics and broader social reform issues today;It encourages scholarly work on other contributors to nursing and public health, especially to improve the diversity of recognized leaders;
- It will publicly defend Nightingale’s reputation when attacked, notably as by the campaign to replace Nightingale by Mary Seacole as the “pioneer nurse,” at St Thomas’ Hospital;
- It advocates the fuller coverage of Nightingale’s contributions to society in school curricula.
What It Is Not
- It does not oppose the honouring of Seacole for her own contribution, at an appropriate site;
- While it supports the inclusion of Seacole in the school curriculum, it does not support the pairing of Nightingale and Seacole, who made very different contributions.
Individual supporters are asked to sign the declaration and indicate any work they might be willing to undertake for the society, such as drafting or co-signing letters, disseminating information to other persons and organizations, organizing sessions on Nightingale in conferences or special events for the discussion of these concerns.
Institutional supporters should indicate the nature of their commitment, such as cross linking of websites, the noting of the events and activities of the society in their communications, the holding of Nightingale-based sessions at their conferences; and designate a person for ongoing contact.
Supporters who are willing to have their names listed are requested to indicate how they wish to be identified, degree, positions, etc.; for retired persons please indicate former occupation or position if appropriate. Brief statements of support would be welcome.
Show your support by replying YES to this message.
Pass it on to colleagues who might share your concern that Nightingale’s legacy is worth remembering, applying and defending.