Ms. Baly, a nurse who earned her doctorate for research on the fate of the Florence Nightingale Fund, reminds us of our continuing debt to the life and work of this complex and still influential Victorian woman.
1 Humane Medicine Volume 2, Number 1, 1986, pp. 13-18.
The particular profession for which Florence was clearly marked out both by her instincts and her capabilities was at that time a particularly disreputable one. Certainly things have changed since those days, and that they have changed is due, far more than any other human being, to Miss Nightingale herself.
-- Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians
Reformers tend to overstate their case. By the midnineteenth century, reforms in nursing already were in the air. A number of religious orders, some connected with the High Church movement, had acolytes, who were nursing in hospitals and in the community, while the Quakers, under the leadership of Mrs. Fry, had started a nursing institute. In addition to the religious organizations, some teaching hospitals were beginning their own reforms in order to meet the needs of medicine. Charles Dickens' much-quoted character, Sairey …