Nightingale's 'Notes on Nursing'


Nightingale, Notes on Nursing


  • Intro

    Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) became a legend in England for her two years nursing soldiers during the Crimean War starting in late 1854. Her tender care for the soldiers earned her the name ‘the Lady of the Lamp’. But her major achievement was to raise nursing to the level of a respectable profession for women. She believed that infection was caused by bad air and dirt, and frequently advocated cleanliness and fresh air for her patients. Although some of these beliefs were mistaken, they led nevertheless to improvements in hygiene. Her Notes on Nursing, shown here, is still in print today.


    Shelfmark: 7461.a.54.

  • Audio

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  • Transcript

    Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is not

    The very first canon of nursing, the first and the last thing upon which a nurse’s attention must be fixed, the first essential to the patient, without which all the rest you can do for him is nothing, with which I had almost said you may leave all the rest alone, is this: TO KEEP THE AIR HE BREATHES AS PURE AS THE EXTERNAL AIR WITHOUT CHILLING HIM. Yet this is so little attended to. Even where it is thought of at all, the most extraordinary misconceptions reign about it. Even in admitting air into the patient’s room or ward, few people ever think, where that air comes from. I may come from a corridor into which other wards are ventilated, from a hall, always unaired, always full of the fumes of gas, dinner, of various kinds of mustiness; from an underground kitchen, sink, washhouse, water-closet, or even, as I myself have had sorrowful experience, from open sewers loaded with filth; and with this the patient’s room or ward is aired, as it is called – poisoned, it should rather be said. Always air from the air without, and that, too through those windows, through which the air comes freshest.

Find out more about the Nightingale, Notes on Nursing Here

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