Florence Nightingale

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Florence Nightingale
BirthplaceFlorence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany
Known for Pioneering modern nursing

Nightingale, Florence

Nightingale, Florence, 1820–1910, English nurse, the founder of modern nursing, b. Florence, Italy. Her life was dedicated to the care of the sick and war wounded and to the promotion of her vision of an effective public health-care system. In 1844 she began to visit hospitals; in 1850 she spent some time with the nursing Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul in Alexandria; and a year later she studied at the institute for Protestant deaconesses in Kaiserswerth, Germany. In 1854 she organized a unit of 38 woman nurses for service in the Crimean War; by the end of the war she had become a legend. With the testimonial fund collected for her war services she established (1860) the Nightingale School and Home for training nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital, London. She was called “The Lady with the Lamp” because she believed that a nurse's care was never ceasing, night or day; she taught that nursing was a noble profession, and she made it so. Florence Nightingale was the first woman to be given the British Order of Merit (1907). She wrote Notes … on Hospital Administration (1857), Notes on Hospitals (1859), Notes on Nursing (1860), and Notes on Nursing for the Labouring Classes (1861). After her death the Crimean Monument, Waterloo Place, London, was erected (1915) in her honor, and the Florence Nightingale International Foundation was inaugurated (1934).


See M. Vicinus and B. Nergaard, ed., Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale: Selected Letters (1989); biographies by C. Woodham-Smith (1950, 1983), E. Huxley (1975), B. M. Dossey (2000, repr. 2009), H. Small (2000), G. Gill (2004), M. Bostridge (2008), and L. McDonald (2010); studies by F. B. Smith (1982), M. E. Baly (1986, repr. 1998), and S. Dengler (1988).


nightingale, common name for a migratory Old World bird of the family Turdidae (thrush family), celebrated for its vocal powers. The common nightingale of England and Western Europe, Luscinia megarhynchos, is about 61-2 in. (16.3 cm) long, reddish-brown above and grayish-white below. It winters in Africa and reaches England about mid-April. Its famous song is delivered only by the male during the breeding season, at any time of day or night. A larger species is found in Eastern Europe. The bulbul, a prodigious songster of Persian literature, was once thought to be a nightingale but has been identified with another family; the Virginia nightingale is a grosbeak; and the Pekin, or Japanese, nightingale belongs to the babbler family. Nightingales are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Turdidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nightingale, Florence


Born May 12, 1820, in Florence; died Aug. 13, 1910, in London. English nurse and public figure.

Nightingale studied the organization of aid to the ill in the hospitals of Germany and France. During the Crimean War of 1853–56, she and 38 female aides organized the first service for the wounded in the British Army, which sharply reduced mortality in the field hospitals. In 1860, Nightingale organized the world’s first school for nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. Until 1872 she served as an expert for the British Army on matters of medical service for the sick and wounded. She wrote a number of works about the system of caring for the sick and wounded, including Notes on Nursing and Notes on Hospitals, which were translated into Russian.

In 1912 the International Red Cross Committee established a medal in her name as the highest award for nurses distinguishing themselves in caring for the sick and wounded. By 1974 the medal had been bestowed on 712 persons, among whom were 19 Soviet nurses and public health instructors, including Heroes of the Soviet Union Z. M. Tusnolobova-Marchenko, M. S. Shkarletova, I. N. Levchenko, and V. S. Kashcheeva.


Reitenbarg, D. “Florentsiia Naitingeil.” Meditsinskaia sestra, 1960, nos. 7–8.
Horndasch, M. Die Lady mit der Lampe. Bonn, 1948.
Bishop, W., and S. Goldle. A Biobibliography of Florence Nightingale. London, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Nightingale, Florence

(1820–1910) English nurse; founder of modern nursing. [Br. Hist.: NCE, 1943.]
See: Nursing
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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