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Final Services for Florence Nightingale

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: May 2019 - Volume 119 - Issue 5 - p 59–60
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000557916.65893.3a
From the AJN Archives: PDF Only

Editor's note: From its first issue in 1900 through to the present day, AJN has unparalleled archives detailing nurses’ work and lives over more than a century. These articles not only chronicle nursing's growth as a profession within the context of the events of the day, but they also reveal prevailing societal attitudes about women, health care, and human rights. Today's nursing school curricula rarely include nursing's history, but it's a history worth knowing. To this end, From the AJN Archives highlights articles selected to fit today's topics and times.

Florence Nightingale died on August 13, 1910. AJN noted her passing in the September 1910 issue and covered her August 20 funeral in the October issue. That account, “Final Services for Florence Nightingale,” describes the flowers and wreaths that accumulated at both the church and the Nightingale tomb. A special note was made of the wreath from Stella Forster, a seven-year-old girl, who sent along this message: “Please may my wreath be put with the other flowers. I picked the heather and made it myself, because I love her so.”

It had been Nightingale's wish to have a simple burial. Nevertheless, as her small procession passed Buckingham Palace and Wellington Barracks, “the guards turned out and the sentries presented arms.” Nightingale might have been surprised to learn that in the United States, beginning in 1954, her birthday would be celebrated as the centerpiece of Nurses Week each year.

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