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Nightingale Society Newsletter November/December 2022
by Lynn McDonald, co-founder
Events and Videos from the Nottingham Group
Richard Bates gve a recorded a lecture on Nightingale and 19th century hospitals for the education site Massolit. The lecture is aimed at GCSE / A level students. You can watch the opening section of the lecture on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSReVEteV3o. The rest of the lecture is available via the Massolit website (you can get a free trial) – the link is in the blurb under the YouTube video.
Richard Bates has recorded a lecture on Nightingale and 19th century hospitals for the education site Massolit, aimed at GCSE (A levelstudents). The opening section is on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSReVEteV3o. The rest of the lecture is available via the Massolit website (you can get a free trial) – the link is in the blurb under the YouTube video.
Paul Crawford gave a talk 10 November, at Blackwells booksshop at the University of Nottingham campus, on their book Florence Nightingale at Home.
On winning the People’s Book Prize, the Nottingham group recorded a video for them introducing it
North America Nightingale Society
The group met on 8 November 2022, by zoom, with participants from the U.S. and Canada.
- How about having an in-person meeting (we could have zoom also) in London in March? let me know if you can come. I expect to be in London then to give a talk at the Royal Statistical Society (one planned for 2020 but cancelled for COVID).
- The NHS turns 75 on 5 July 2023: how can we celebrate that and bring in Nightingale as the person who first articulated its principles (not the centralized organization, but access to quality care on the basis of need, not ability to pay, and stress on health promotion and disease prevention)
- How can we use 2023 to promote Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, the first black nurse in the NHS also the first black nurse at the Nightingale School, which she chose because she was inspired by Nightingale. David Green, director of the FN Museum , does what he/it can do to make Pratt known.
- Do you know of other in-person meetings where we might connect? Anyone giving a paper/talk at something relevant?
by Lynn McDonald, co-founder | June 23, 2022
The Marylebone Festival, 17-22 July in London
Among the services and concerts for this week of festivities in central London, note July 22, 10:30 am: Walking Tour: Florence Nightingale Pioneer and Innovator meet at Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly; then at 1.10 pm: St Marylebone Parish Church, The Two Nightingales, The Curious Story of Florence Nightingale; Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, with Amanda Pitt (soprano), Gavin Roberts (piano), and Sarah Gabriel (actor). Jenny Lind, a great singer, also gave concerts to raise money for the Nightingale Fund, towards the founding of her school.
Visit the Florence Nightingale Museum to see her Crimean War carriage
Thanks to John Shallcross for forwarding a picture of the (captured) Russian carriage commandeered by chef Alexis Soyer, so that Nightingale could (easily) visit the war hospitals in the Crimea in 1855. Soyer then had the carriage sent back to London.
My last book on Nightingale!
When the 16 volumes of the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale were all out, in 2012, that was to be the end. Four short books came out subsequently to make her material more accessible. Now, in 2022, the last one has just been published, Florence Nightingale and the Medical Men: Working Together for Health Care Reform, McGill-Queen’s University Press. This is full circle, for McGill-Queen’s published my Early Origins of the Social Sciences, 1993, which has a section on Nightingale, as a social scientist, my first publication on her.
Florence Nightingale and the Medical Men also includes some material on women doctors (they don’t appear until Chapter 6). It was men doctors, however, who helped her get nursing started as a profession and worked with her on getting out the data on the Crimean War deaths, and how they were brought down. It was men doctors, also, who worked with her for years after on hospital safety and the broader public health reforms.
The book also has material—different from anything published before—on the state registration of nurses. Altogether, it reports on issues of interest, but not covered elsewhere.
Let your library know about it!
The Nightingale Society: North America
Nurses and Nightingale supporters in the United States and Canada are invited to join this group, for occasional email updates and zoom meetings. Next meeting June 28 by Zoom 3 p.m. (EDT). Reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To: Dawn Armstrong, VP Human Rights and Equity
To: Cathryn Hoy, President, ONA
21 June 2022
Dear Ms Armstrong and Ms Hoy
I was sorry and somewhat embarrassed to see the proposal that ONA drop all reference to Florence Nightingale in International Nursing Week, etc., on account of her “mistakes,” unspecified. I am the director of the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, 16 volumes, peer-reviewed, so I have read everything she wrote that is now available (thousands of letters an documents). I have never seen anything that would qualify as a “mistake.” She is sometimes blamed for not discovering germ theory before Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister, but that is ridiculous!
There are two obvious sources for the accusation, Stake-Doucet’s blog on Nightingale, and an article in the journal of the New Zealand Nurses Organization, both 2021, and neither with any concrete examples of fault—mere accusations. I emailed Ms Stake-Doucet to ask her for any examples, and she eventually) replied that she was not working on the subject any more and would not reply to my question. The New Zealand Nurses could not be found by email! Both, only a month after their article appeared, had left the New Zealand Nurses Organization. The journal, however, published my article of rebuttal (which does contain sources). A link to it is provided below.
I would be happy to meet with your organization, or any ONA board or other members, in person or by zoom, to give you a briefing.
The timing seems especially unfortunate. With Canadians becoming aware of the horrors of residential schools, nurses should be proud of the fact that a nurse, Nightingale, was the first person to expose the high rates of disease and death at such schools, not only in Canada (13 in Ontario), but Australia, Africa and Ceylon. Yes, Nightingale believed that black lives matter, and Indigenous lives matter. She tried to get the Colonial Office to follow up on her findings, but they did not.
Nightingale grew up in a progressive family—her grandfather worked with William Wilberforce on the abolition of slavery. She did a lot to get access for South Asian women to health care—when women would not see a male doctor—and so went without care.
The first black nurse in Britain’s National Health Service, the Nigerian Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, was a “Nightingale nurse,” that is, she trained at the Nightingale School in London, founded by Nightingale, because she was inspired by her.
Might I add that I strongly support you as a union. Every time I get asked about nurses (I am not a nurse myself) I say that nurses are under-paid and not given the respect they deserve for the work they do. Nightingale herself was a strong advocate for good salaries, benefits, a month’s holiday and, for nurses in the military, officer status—all this before there were unions.
Lynn McDonald, CM, PhD, professor emerita
Additional reading on this website:
Florence Nightingale: A Leading Anti-Racist — The Nightingale Society
Defending Florence Nightingale’s Reputation (Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand) — The Nightingale Society
By Lynn McDonald, co-founder | May 12, 2022
May 12, 2022 is International Nursing Day
Congratulations to all Nurses on May 12, our hero’s birthday! Herewith a Washington Post story for which I was interviewed. Please pass on information of events you know about for the next newsletter.
By Lynn McDonald, co-founder | March 1, 2022
New 90-minute feature film, in French:
“Florence Nightingale: la première des infirmières”
(Florence Nightingale, First of the Nurses)
A new film, by Aurine Crémieux, was broadcast in late February on the Arte channel, which I (and others in Canada and probably in the United States) cannot see. Thanks to Nightingale Society member Rob van der Peet, in the Netherlands, who did see it, for alerting us. An English version is in preparation.
The German version is “Florence Nightingale: Mutter aller Schwestern” (Florence Nightingale: Mother of Nurses).
Filming was done in the U.K. and France in the summer and fall of 2021 (I did an interview for it in September, at the offices of the Royal Statistical Society).
Florence Nightingale Lecture at Oxford University, 4 March 2022
One of the great highlights of the Nightingale-and-things-statistical year is the public lecture held by the Department of Statistics at Oxford University and available by zoom. This year’s lecturer is Sir Bernard Silverman, FRS, professor emeritus of statistics at Oxford. His topic: “Statistics and the fight against modern slavery.” As is typical, the lecture is not on Nightingale, but in fact is on a subject—slavery—on which she was greatly concerned (her MP grandfather had worked with William Wilberforce on the abolition of slavery). The lecturer is evidently planning to do what she did so well: use statistics to elucidate a great problem and the best means to deal with it.
The lecture is at 3 p.m., U.K. time, followed by a panel session with experts on modern slavery. It is necessary to register. Florence Nightingale Lecture and Panel Session – Friday 4th March 2022 | Department of Statistics, University of Oxford
University of Virginia School of Nursing Online Event, 19 March 2022
The 5th Agnes Dillon Randolph International Nursing History Conference, with keynote address by historian Deirdre Cooper Owens, PhD: “Black Patients as Healers and the Double Bind in Medical Racism.” Registration is free and open to all.
By Lynn McDonald, co-founder | February 4, 2022
More Seacole misinformation—a new low!
Seacole founded nurse training!
A British nurse, trained at Guy’s Hospital, emailed me with the following:
“I have just read Seacole’s autobiography and am astounded how her status is considered equal to Florence Nightingale. I was prompted to read this when recently my 14 year old grandson said ‘Oh Mary Seacole …she is the British nurse who started teaching Nursing in England’ …He had not heard of Florence!! So I am prompted to investigate further. Your attempts to write the wrongs are to be applauded.”
Letter to the chief nurse, Guy’s Hospital
The following letter, co-signed by 19 people, has been sent to Avey Bhatia, chief nurse at Guy’s Hospital email@example.com
Question: Nightingale Society Meeting by Zoom?
The Nightingale Society has normally met yearly, in person, a practice stopped with the pandemic. How about a virtual meeting? We have not made a dent on the Conservative government, or its health minister or NHS under him. What if there is a change in government at the next election? What connections do we have with Labour? And how can we develop them?
Nightingale Society-North America
The group met again, by zoom, on 2 February, with a new member from Michigan, a practising nurse with a new PhD. Welcome! She joins members from Toronto, Ottawa, Dayton and Maryland .One vexatious item of business was the continued showing of a large picture of Mary Seacole, with false information on her, at two downtown Toronto hospitals, despite the undertaking given by the chief nurse to have them removed by the end of November.
The group is still looking to an in-person gathering, in Dayton, Ohio, this year, postponed on account of the pandemic.
Any people on the (regular) Nightingale Society list who lives in the U.S. or Canada who would like to join in these (occasional, smaller) meetings, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lynn McDonald, co-founder | December 4, 2021
Success in Countering Creeping Seacolism in Toronto!
Congratulations to the Nightingale Society, North America, for persuading the top officials, notably the chief nurse, Joy Richards, to take down two large pictures in their lobbies, of the two (supposed) co-founders of nursing, one you-know-who and the other Mrs Seacole, with a fallacious list of her (supposed) nursing accomplishments. The pair of pictures appeared at three major, downtown Toronto hospitals. (Our spy, a patient, says they are not down yet, but we expect that to happen soon.)
Letters sometimes work! Especially if members send more than one.
Paul Crawford, Anna Greenwood, Richard Bates, and Jonathan Memel, whose Florence Nightingale at Home, 2020, has been nominated for an award. People can vote for it at (some already have) NOW: https://bit.ly/3nsRaga.
Nightingale Society, North America
The group (Toronto, Ohio and Maryland) met by Zoom on 30 November, chaired by Anne Clark and organized by Carolyn Edgar. Carolyn reports that the focus has shifted from “Celebrating Nightingale’s Bicentenary” to defending her and correcting any false statements. It was agreed that, when Nightingale has come under attack, we respond with letter writing saying where they got it wrong.
We would be happy to add new members (occasional zoom meetings now, we hope to meet again in person in 2021). If you are in Canada or the United States and would like to join, or try us! Email email@example.com.
Many people took part in the zoom symposium “Nightingale 2020” held (from) Boston University School of Public Health, 8 October. There were excellent presentations (especially Dave Green, my spies tell me).
Unfortunately, speaker Mary Ellen Doona reiterated incorrect claims she had previously published on Nightingale and the Irish Sisters of Mercy. For a critique, with primary sources, see my (Lynn McDonald’s), “Florence Nightingale and Irish nursing” article for the Journal of Clinical Nursing, available online 5 April 2014.
As well, Doona failed to mention that Mother Bridgeman, superior of the Irish Sisters of Mercy, signed a contract on behalf of her nurses to work under Nightingale, a condition to their being accepted on the (second) nursing team sent out. On arrival (and Nightingale knew nothing of it and was not asked), the doctors objected for not only was the Barrack Hospital overcrowded, the large number of nuns upset the religious balance. They, not Nightingale, required that the new arrivals be sent elsewhere. They were, to Koulali, and then sent to the Crimea itself. When Nightingale was put in charge of the Crimea hospital nursing, Bridgeman took her nuns and quit, without advising her! (Nightingale had to scramble to find replacements.)
As to Doona’s accusation of Nightingale having “anti-Catholic” sentiments, she worked very amicably with the nuns of the same order at the Convent of Mercy, Bermondsey, and remained friends with its mother superior, Mary Clare Moore, and other nuns for life.
Correspondence about Nightingale and the End of the Crimean War
Thanks to Peter Kay for sharing an interesting letter he has acquired and has displayed, from General George Codrington to his Russian counterpart, about the placing of a white cross at a cemetery.
“Vital Power,” Anyone?
Rob Van der Peet, a Dutch retired nurse working on a new translation of Notes on Nursing, invites discussion on Nightingale’s interest in “vital power.” You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lynn McDonald, co-founder | November 4, 2021
My visit to the UK, September-October 2021
It was not possible to hold a Nightingale Society meeting while I was in the U.K., but I did manage to see a number of people informally:
- Dave Green, director of the Nightingale Museum
- Alison Macfarlane, statistician (we went to the National Archives at Kew together, on an unsuccessful attempt to find some (missing) Crimean War data)
- Dr Eileen Magnello, historian of statistics
- And see the item below: Romsey Abbey
New letter to co-sign:
Romsey Abbey: the Calling Window
John Shallcross kindly met me at the train and took me to see the Sophie Hacker’s wonderful “Calling Window” at the Abbey. It is stunning, and, no surprise, some visitors are going to the Abbey just to see it. Sophie gave a talk on it at the Abbey on 22 October, which I missed.
St Paul’s Cathedral evensong, 10 November 2021 in honour of Nightingale
At 5:00pm (no ticket required)
Conference on Nightingale at Boston University, 30 November 2021
Good to see some new names giving papers, along with well-known presenters, Dave Green and Barbara Dossey. (This event replaces the original.)