Why do we remember her?
On 4 November 1854, Florence Nightingale arrived in Turkey with a group of 38 nurses from England. Britain was at war with Russia (the Crimean War 1854-1856) and the conditions in the hospitals were very bad. Hundreds of soldiers were injured in the fighting. In those days, hospitals were very basic and the soldiers were not given good food and medicine to help them get better.
When Florence Nightingale got to the hospital, she saw that wounded men were sleeping in overcrowded, dirty rooms without any blankets. Wounded soldiers often arrived with diseases like typhus, cholera and dysentery. More men died from these diseases than from their injuries.
When she arrived at the hospital, the army doctors who worked there did not want the nurses helping. Soon after they arrived, however, there was a very large battle and the doctors realised they needed the nurses' help. Florence Nightingale realised that if the doctors were going to allow her nurses to work then they had to do a very good job.
- What jobs are the two nurses in the picture doing?
- What other jobs seem to have been done in this ward?
- Who do you think the men in the picture are?
- Do you think this would this have been a comfortable place to stay? Why?
- What do you think are the differences between this hospital and a modern one?
1. This is a picture of one of the wards at Scutari Hospital.
- Think about the nurses you have seen when you have visited a hospital or the doctor. Write down a list of all the things you have seen the nurses do, and what kind of people they are.
- This source describes the work that Florence and her nurses did at the hospital at Scutari. Write a list of the jobs the nurses had to do, and the kind of person you think they would have needed to be to do them.
- What do you think are the differences between nurses in Florence Nightingale's time and now?
2. This report describes what happened in the hospital.
- Look at the map of the war area and see if you can find the following:
- Where the fighting took place
- Where the hospital was
- The United Kingdom
- Why do you think the soldiers' hospital was so far away from where the fighting was?
- How do you think Florence and her nurses got to Scutari?
- Do you think it would have been an easy journey?
- How long do you think it would have taken them to get there from England?
3. This is a map of where the fighting took place.
- Think about the nurses you have seen again. What kind of uniform do they wear?
- Look at the document. Why do you think the nurses would need so many different types of clothing?
- How easy do you think it would have been to move around and work wearing these clothes?
- Why do you think that the nurses weren't given all their clothes at once?
4. This list is part of a booklet given to all the nurses who travelled to Scutari with Florence Nightingale.
5. Now you are going to take part in a role-play.
It is late September 1854. Florence Nightingale and Elisabeth Herbert (the wife of Sidney Herbert, the Secretary of War) are interviewing a woman who wants to go to the Crimea as a nurse. First you will have to decide what questions you want to ask the woman. You can ask no more than eight. Use your observations from the exercise in section 2 to help you choose the ones that will be most effective in deciding whether the woman is suitable.
Now get into a group of three. One person should play the part of the woman who wants to go to the Crimea as a nurse. The other two play Florence and Elisabeth and ask the questions. At the end you must decide, do we offer the woman a job as a nurse?