Florence Nightingale collection
Scope and Contents
But if the body of published work is comparatively small, the body of manuscript material is voluminous. Florence Nightingale was a prolific letter writer, and all her life she kept journals and diaries and commonplace books in which she, in effect, wrote letters to herself to record her private thoughts and opinions. The latter material remains unpublished in a few separate depositories, although her biographers have had access to it. The letter have been widely scattered, but a bibliography is soon to be published listing and locating as many as possible.
The Wayne State University Florence Nightingale Collection attempts only to be representative. It includes copies of the major works written by her, the two definitive biographies, a sampling of the various books written bout and inspired by her, some representative letters, and a few pieces of memorabilia. As detailed here, the collection is essentially the one assembled by the late Dr. Otto Fischer, of Detroit, for whom it represented a happy conjunction of his profession, medicine, and his avocation, book-collecting. It was acquired from him in 1961 through the joint effort of the College of Nursing and the University Library. In addition to the books and letters listed on the following pages, the collection includes some Nightingale pictures, mostly reproductions, a twentieth century re-recording of her voice as transcribed on an Edison cylinder sometime about the turn of the century, and a few letters of people who were in some way associated with her but which are neither addressed to nor relevant to her.
The collection covers a wide range of dates with material as old as 1812 and as new as 2003. The majority of the letters written by and about Florence Nightingale are dated in the range of 1850-1900. Books newer than 1963 were added to the original collection by Wayne State University.
- Majority of material found within Bulk, 1850-1900
Language of Materials
Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Dean of the Wayne State University Library System.
Although she lived for many years in seclusion as a semi-invalid, her work for reformation went on continuously and was carried out through her pen. The objectives of reform of hospital nursing and improvement of health in the British Army were in a considerable measure achieved. The accomplishment gave Miss Nightingale but slight satisfaction; her meager achievement was matched only by impatience with what she felt to be the inadequacies of others who worked with her toward the same ends.
Few women have exerted so far-reaching and enduring an influence on so many. Intelligence of the level that was hers is rare in men or women, but there is little evidence that this brilliant driving woman ever recognized that fact. Time and circumstances, however, were right for the reforms that Florence Nightingale pressed. She had a public ready and able to learn, as well as acquaintances in public life to effect the action necessary for change. Even though Miss Nightingale failed to appreciate that all men could not match her pace, and so derived little joy from their work for her or from her own labors, patients in hospitals and soldiers in barracks or field have not yet ceased to benefit from the work accomplished during her long life.
7.0 Linear Feet (38 books, 6 boxes, 2 records, 1 audio reel, 1 framed painting)
- Florence Nightingale collection 354:28
- Inventory prepared by Howard A. Sullivan, 1963. Digital finding aid by Meghan Finch. Revised by Alison Greenlee, March 2020.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Wayne State University Library System Special Collections Repository