A scrapbook, showing how Florence Nightingale became a cultural phenomenon, is going on display online in the 200thanniversary year of the birth of the pioneer of modern nursing.
Nightingale’s work during the Crimean War revolutionised hospital sanitisation, and she led the way in collecting and displaying data to show the impact of care.
But in her time, she was also famous as an icon of popular culture, as shown by the scrapbook, part of the collection at Derby’s Local Studies and Family History Library. A digitised version was due to go on display at the library, but following the closure of the building because of the pandemic, it is being made available online.
It went on show at www.derby.gov.uk/derbyshistoryfrom May 12, the date marking the bicentenary of Nightingale’s birth in 1820.
It is complemented by a specially-recorded talk by bestselling author Katharine McMahon, who has a lifelong interest in Florence Nightingale. This is available online at www.inderby.org.uk/libraries/news/Florence-Nightingale-Bicentennial-Talk/.
A special new edition of Katharine McMahon’s novel The Rose of Sebastopol, a fictional account of a nurse serving in the Crimea alongside Florence Nightingale, has been published in time for the bicentenary.
She says, “This scrapbook is a gem and brings Nightingale, and the extraordinary publicity that followed her expedition to the Crimea, vividly to life. The cuttings and pictures show how she became a cult – in songs, plays and newspapers – but also the tragedy of disease and suffering that the real Florence tackled with unbounded energy and determination.”
The scrapbook was compiled by Llewellyn Jewitt, a local ‘antiquarian’ (historian) and a contemporary of Florence Nightingale. Originally from Plymouth, he settled in Derby and was one of the founders of Derbyshire Archaeological Society. He also led the local Nightingale Fund, raising money for her efforts in the Crimean War.
The document consists mainly of newspaper cuttings from 1853 to 1854, detailing Nightingale’s progress in the Crimean War. But there are also poems, musical scores with song lyrics about her, and even a poster advertising a ship called the Florence Nightingale. Copies of engravings from London Illustratedand other broadsheets depict her in an idealised and often sentimental way.
One newspaper cutting mentions Mary Seacole, a Jamaican nurse who also helped develop our modern idea of nursing in the Crimean War, but whose work has not been recognised until relatively recently.
Regarded as the founder of modern nursing and best-known for her work during the Crimean War, Florence fundamentally changed the role of nursing in hospitals, and was a key figure in introducing new professional training standards. But she was also a female icon in her own lifetime, an influential statistician and a leader.
So, it’s no surprise that the 200th anniversary of her birthday is still being marked by many, despite these challenging times – and at a time when nursing, washing your hands and evidence based-healthcare have rarely been so important.
To mark the anniversary, Derby Museums had also planned a Florence Nightingale: Health in the Home Exhibition. While it remains closed, an online preview offers a glimpse at the world of this nursing pioneer: https://bit.ly/2VO66I3.
[This has been prepared on behalf of VisitDerby: https://www.visitderby.co.uk/whats-on/200th-anniversary-of-florence-nightingale/]