Florence Nightingale’s 200th!

This year the world marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910.) Her name is known around the world and nurses everywhere enjoy the fruits of her labors today. She lived a long time ago in a very different world, but she enunciated the basic philosophy of modern nursing, and introduced statistics into the study of disease.

The Aufses Archives has copies of two of Miss Nightingale’s books: Notes on Nursing and Notes on Hospitals. The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, which existed from 1881-1971, had a small collection of Nightingale letters that they had gathered over the years. Some of these were given to the Columbia University School of Nursing in 1953, as shown in the image below.

      From the Aufses Archives










Hospitals, schools of nursing, archives, and history of medicine collections will be marking the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale this year with celebrations, blog posts, exhibits and lectures. Here are links to just a few of those celebrations going on this year:

Nightingale: Lady and Legend at the National Library of Medicine: https://circulatingnow.nlm.nih.gov/2020/05/12/nightingale-lady-and-legend/   This includes this note on sources: The National Library of Medicine’s holdings of Nightingale materials are (unsurprisingly) extensive, with over seventy printed titles and editions. In addition, the Library holds a group of Nightingale letters written between 1845 and 1878, all of which may be read as part of the Florence Nightingale Digitization Projectand a copy of an oral history interview conducted by M. Adelaide Nutting (herself a giant in the history of nursing) in 1890. A transcript is available at http://oculus.nlm.nih.gov/2935116r.

A blog post on the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Nursing ties to Nightingale: https://www2.hshsl.umaryland.edu/hslupdates/?p=4177

A blog post at the UCLA Library about the Elmer Belt FN Collection and other Nightingaleiana we have and use: https://www.library.ucla.edu/blog/special/2020/05/11/happy-birthday-florence-nightingale

Finally, there is a special exhibit at the Florence Nightingale Museum in London called Nightingale in 200 Objects, People & Places  https://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/200objects/  Sadly, the Museum is closed due to the pandemic and is struggling financially. As they note:

Nursing, washing your hands and evidence based-healthcare, pioneered by Florence Nightingale, have become more important than ever before and we’re calling upon our friends and supporters to help us preserve her story and legacy.

Nurses Do It All!

In honor of National Nurses Week, the Mount Sinai Archives would like to recognize that for over 100 years, Mount Sinai nurses have been doing it all, and then some.  When she was a student at The Mount Sinai Training School for Nurses, Class of 1917, Sybil E. Elzas created a little notebook containing important things she needed to know on her clinical rotations, and then once out on her own as a graduate nurse.  (Most professional nurses at this time still did private duty nursing, not hospital work.)   The notebook was sized just right to slip into the pocket of her uniform’s apron. After pages and pages of definitions of terms and lists of operating room tray set-ups and dressings, towards the back of the book is a lone page noting the recipe for “Mount Sinai Hand Lotion.”   Why purchase something nurses could so easily make, and at reduced cost?!


Nurses, still making a difference at Mount Sinai, 100 years later.

Inside cover of the clinic notebook belonging to Sybil E. Elzas.

  Inside cover of the clinic notebook belonging to Sybil E. Elzas. She is shown here as a student while on rotation to Sloane Hospital. The recipe for the lotion is at the end of the volume.                                                                        

Mount Sinai lotion152

What’s in a Name?

The Class of 1905, where the first Nancy was a student.

The Class of 1905, where the first Nancy was a student.

This week I spent some time looking for an early graduate of The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing.  An email about the alumna, Nancy Morris, said she graduated from the School in the late 1890s.  As I scanned the class lists trying to find the exact year of her graduation, I found many names that seem distinctly old-fashioned, but no simple Nancys.  There was a Josepha, many Adas and Idas, an Alphasine, a few Mauds and Daisys, a Mehitable, an Igogereth, quite a few Minnies and Mabels, a Mynolia, and some Florences.  It was 1905 – 24 years into the School’s history – before I found the first Nancy, and they were few and far between for quite some time after this.

Just as an FYI, the most common name in our School of Nursing up until 1910 was Mary. This did not even make the top 50 girls’ names in 2013, according to Parents magazine.