JD: Hello Miss Nightingale. My name is Jonathan Dellinger and let me start off by saying how grateful I am that you are doing this interview with me.
FN: Oh, it's no problem. (smiling)
JD: How about we go right into the questions?
JD: You were born on May 12, 1820 in Italy, is that correct?
FN: Yes it is, and did you know that I was named after the city I was born in?
JD: Yes. You were born in the city of Florence, Italy. But you did not grow up there did you?
FN: No, my sister and I were raised mostly in Derbyshire, England. It was a beautiful country.
JD: Growing up, what started your interest in science and nursing?
FN: Well, my family tried to educate me in the way they thought a young woman should be. But I wanted to learn about mathmatics. I must have gotten that from my father, he was a master of math and science, and I always liked that sort of thing, too. Of course my mother and father did not agree with me on becoming more educated in mathmatics, but I was persistent and eventualy they gave in and I was taught by a wonderful teacher.
JD: Whom, may I ask, was this teacher?
FN: I was taught by Sylvester, he was a great mathmatition. He was also a very wise man. He was a great role model for me growing up and I felt he helped me become more interested in math and science.
JD: Was religion important to you?
FN: Religion was important to me. My family and I were very religious. I acctualy believe the work I did was a calling from God himself.
JD: From what I understand, nursing, the career path you chose, wasn't a suitable job for an educated woman such as yourself.
FN: At the time, no, nursing was considered a job for fairly uneducated women with no real job training. There also wasn't a lot known at the time about the causes of many of the diseases that were killing so many citizens.
JD: So why did you go into the field?
FN: I was on a trip through Egypt and Europe and I got to see many different hospital settings. They interested me so much that I got some nurse training. Soon after I got my first nursing job as a Superintendent at a wellness center. Then the Crimean War began and I was stationed at a military hospital and was to train new nurses. Upon arriving the conditions in which the hospitals were in were very appalling.
JD: How so?
FN: Injured men were laying on very unhealthy floors and were surrounded by many unsanitary things. It became apparent very quickly to me that these men weren't getting better at these military facilities, they were actually getting worse.
JD: So what did you do to address the problem?
FN: I put together data to describe the conditions of the military hospitals. The data that I collected proved that the conditions in which the military hospitals were in weren't helping the men get better.
JD: But I can imagine as a woman living in the 1800's that it was difficult for people to believe you.
FN: Why yes, it was. I was very limited as a women. Getting the men in the military to see that the medical facilities were unhealthy was very difficult, along with many other things such as getting a good education and also finding a good career. Many things were difficult for women to do at that time. Especially since most people in the field of science were male and a lot older then I was it was very difficult for me to achieve anything in my work.
JD: But you did get through to them right?
FN: Yes, I did. I got them to get the medical facilities in better conditions and not just military ones. All of our medical facilities were in bad shape and I wanted them all more sanitary.
JD: That's amazing. I truly admire you for doing what you did, especially in the time period you did it in. Can we talk about what it was like to live during such an amazing time as you did? I mean you were around with great artists such as William Ratcliffe, Gwen John, and Spencer Gore. To live durring that time would be very interesting.
FN: It was interesting indeed, there were many great artists emerging at the time and I was blessed to live during their lives.
JD: Well thank you for answering all of my questions. I think I have all I need. It's been a pleasure talking with you.
FN: You're welcome. I was glad to help.