Person: Nightingale, Florence
Florence Nightingale is best known for her work as a nurse, but she was also a pioneering statistician.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Named after the city of her birth, Nightingale was born at the Villa Colombia in Florence, Italy, on 12 May 1820.
- The Nightingales gave their first born the Greek name for the city, which was Parthenope.
- William Nightingale had been born with the surname Shore but he had changed it to Nightingale after inheriting from a rich relative, Peter Nightingale of Lea, near Matlock, Derbyshire.
- Nightingale loved her lessons and had a natural ability for studying.
- After many long emotional battles, Nightingale's parents finally gave their permission and allowed her to be tutored in mathematics.
- Nightingale was said to be Sylvester's most distinguished pupil.
- Nightingale's interest in mathematics extended beyond the subject matter.
- One of the people who also influenced Nightingale was the Belgian scientist Quetelet.
- Religion played an important part in Nightingale's life.
- Her unbiased view on religion, unusual at the time, was owed to the liberal outlook Nightingale found in her home.
- Although her parents were from a Unitarian background, Frances Nightingale found a more conventional denomination preferable and the girls were brought up as members of the Church of England.
- On 7 February 1837 Nightingale believed she heard her calling from God, whilst walking in the garden at Embley, although at this time though she did not know what this calling was.
- In early 1850 Nightingale began her training as a nurse at the Institute of St Vincent de Paul in Alexandria, Egypt, which was a hospital run by the Roman Catholic Church.
- Nightingale visited Pastor Theodor Fliedner's hospital at Kaiserswerth, near Düsseldorf, in July 1850.
- Nightingale returned to Kaiserswerth, in 1851, to undertake 3 months of nursing training at the Institute for Protestant Deaconesses and from Germany she moved to a hospital in St Germain, near Paris, run by the Sisters of Mercy.
- On returning to London in 1853 Nightingale took up the unpaid position as the Superintendent at the Establishment for Gentlewomen during Illness at No 1 Harley Street.
- In response to this Nightingale was asked in a letter from her friend Sidney Herbert, the British Secretary for War, to become a nursing administrator to oversee the introduction of nurses to military hospitals.
- Although being female meant Nightingale had to fight against the military authorities at every step, she went about reforming the hospital system.
- With conditions which resulted in soldiers lying on bare floors surrounded by vermin and unhygienic operations taking place it is not surprising that, when Nightingale first arrived in Scutari, diseases such as cholera and typhus were rife in the hospitals.
- Whilst in Turkey, Nightingale collected data and organised a record keeping system, this information was then used as a tool to improve city and military hospitals.
- Nightingale's knowledge of mathematics became evident when she used her collected data to calculate the mortality rate in the hospital.
- Nightingale used this statistical data to create her Polar Area Diagram, or "coxcombs" as she called them.
- Using this information, Nightingale computed a mortality rate of 1,174 per 10,000 with 1,023 per 10,000 being from zymotic diseases.
- On her return to London in August 1856, four months after the signing of the peace treaty, Nightingale discovered that soldiers during peacetime, aged between 20 and 35 had twice the mortality rate of civilians.
- While pressing her case, Nightingale gained the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as well as that of the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston.
- Nightingale hid herself from public attention, and became concerned for the army stationed in India.
- In 1858, for her contributions to army and hospital statistics Nightingale became the first woman to be elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.
- In 1860, the Nightingale Training School and Home for Nurses based at St Thomas's Hospital in London, opened with 10 students.
- It was financed by the Nightingale Fund, a fund of public contributions set up during Nightingale's time in the Crimea and had raised a total of £50,000.
- Due to the foundation of this school Nightingale had achieved the transformation of nursing from its disreputable past into a responsible and respectable career for women.
- Nightingale responded to the British war office's request for advice on army medical care in Canada and was also a consultant to the United States government on army health during the American Civil War.
- For most of the remainder of her life Nightingale was bedridden due to an illness contracted in the Crimea, which prevented her from continuing her own work as a nurse.
- Nightingale's other published works included Notes on Hospitals (1859) and Notes on Nursing for the Labouring Classes (1861).
- Florence Nightingale deeply believed that her work had been her calling from God.
- In 1874 she became an honorary member of the American Statistical Association and in 1883 Queen Victoria awarded Nightingale the Royal Red Cross for her work.
- Nightingale died on 13 August 1910 aged 90.
- The Crimean Monument, erected in 1915 in Waterloo Place, London, was done so in honour of the contribution Florence Nightingale had made to this war and the health of the army.
Born 12 May 1820, Florence (now Italy). Died 13 August 1910, East Wellow, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Italy, Statistics, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive