Letter from Florence Nightingale

8 September 1860

Florence Nightingale letter


  • Intro

    Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) became a legend in England for her years nursing soldiers during the Crimean War. To the puzzlement of her upper-class parents, she hadn't become someone's rich wife, but instead - as well as travelling widely - chose to work with the poor. 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.


    Nightingale believed that disease was, to a large extent, caused by dirt and bad smells. Although mistaken, this belief did lead to improvements in hygiene. This letter was sent by Florence Nightingale to Edwin Chadwick who was a social reformer noted for his work on reforming sanitary conditions for the poor. In it, Nightingale reveals her opinions of the treatment of Consumption (Tuberculosis).


    Shelfmark: Add. MS 45814.

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  • Transcript

    Letter from Florence Nightingale to Edwin Chadwick

    Original text:


    Upper Terrace



    Sept 8 / 60


    Dear Mr Chadwick

        I make haste to answer your question as to my experience (as an old nurse) in the 'application of the water cure to incipient consumption,' especially as it regards so valuable a life. 

    1. In incipient tuberculosis, [where the object is to avoid local congestion, the water treatment (not as a charm, as Englishwomen take medicine, but as part of a treatment) I have seen to be most effectual, the rest of the treatment being open air during the greater part of the day] (riding or otherwise, according to the patient's strength), bedroom ventilation at night, diet, founded upon improved digestion, the result of the open-air exercise, sometimes gentle gymnastics, much cold water sponging and little wet-sheet packing.

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