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Introduction to the Project

All the available surviving writing of Florence Nightingale has now been published in the sixteen-volume Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, most for the first time.

The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale makes available Nightingale’s major published books, articles and pamphlets (many long out of print) and a vast amount of heretofore unpublished correspondence and notes. Extensive databases, notably a chronology and names index, and the original, unedited, transcriptions, will also be published in electronic form. This will permit convenient access to scholars interested not only in Nightingale but other major figures of her time.

Known as the heroine of the Crimean War and the major founder of the modern profession of nursing, Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) appears here also as a scholar, theorist and social reformer of enormous scope and importance.

Excellent critical editions of comparable male scholars exist, for example the 33-volume Collected Works of John Stuart Mill.

Nightingale’s work is of no less interest. She was a national heroine in her own day and unofficial consultant on numerous matters of public policy for decades. As early as the 1860s she had formulated the central principles of a public health care system. Her work can be seen now, in an age more sensitive to environmental issues, as greatly prescient in integrating factors of the biophysical environment with social and economic factors. Some attention has been paid to her work in applied statistics but little to her expertise more generally in methodology, philosophy, theology and spirituality, and women’s issues. She was in touch with an extraordinary cross-section of people: royal personages, prime ministers and Cabinet members, leaders in medical science, philosophers, theologians, the military, literary figures and natural scientists.

The Collected Works shows how Nightingale integrated her scholarly work with political activism. She not only collected data and consulted experts but became well versed in major areas of public policy. She “lobbied” extensively to achieve implementation of her reform agenda. She led a team of researchers/reformers for decades, drawing on their expertise and inspiring them with her comprehensive vision. The material presented here shows a different, much more complex, Nightingale than is generally presented in the secondary literature.

Original material has been obtained from more than 200 archives and private collections worldwide. There is much new material in all the areas of her life and work: the four volumes on religion, one each on her family, society and politics, public health care, European travels, women and hospital reform; two each on India, war and nursing. The volumes show Nightingale’s careful methodology, high standards of scholarship and linguistic abilities. They reveal as her ability to draw on a wide range of expertise to formulate reform plans and an astute use of the political process to achieve them.

Electronic Publication

The research for the Collected Works involved transcriptions from a wide range of archives: this has resulted in a comprehensive chronology of Nightingale’s life — events, publications and correspondence (incoming as well as her letters). On this website’s Archival material page, source texts are cross-referenced with a two-volume key file, linking to 40 volumes of plain-text transcripts which can be downloaded. A comprehensive name file contains biographical information (and transcript cross-references) for Nightingale’s colleagues, family, correspondents, authors and experts she read and consulted. These will be a useful research tool for scholars working on other nineteenth century figures, political leaders, public health experts, the military, scientists and literary figures.


The series editor is Dr. Lynn McDonald, University Professor Emerita. McDonald has also pursued a political career. She was a Member of Parliament 1982-88 and is a former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Canada’s largest women’s organization. She has also been a successful health advocate, author of Canada’s landmark federal legislation, the “Non-Smokers’ Health Act” (1988).

Vols. 4, 9 and 10 were edited by the late Dr. Gérard Vallée, Professor Emeritus, Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University.

Peer Reviewers

All the volumes go through (anonymous) peer review by the press. We are grateful to all these fellow academics for their careful work and helpful comments, which for obvious reasons cannot be acknowledged by name.

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