Exhibitions Update: Celebrating the History of Nursing

Florence Nightingale, (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) was a celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician.  She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night.

Florence Nightingale, (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) was a celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician. She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making rounds at night.

In honor of the Notes on Nursing exhibition and the upcoming International Nurses Day on May 12th, the Burns Library is proud to announce a talk by Marianne Lille, RN, M.Ed., Boston College Alumna and Case Manager at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Emergency Department, on Saturday, April 30th at 12 p.m. in the Ford Tower at the Burns Library. The talk will be followed by a small reception in the Burns Library’s Irish Room.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Justine Sundaram by e-mail (justine.sundaram@bc.edu) or by calling the Burns Library Reading Room at 617-552-4861.  The exhibition, Notes on Nursing:  Past, Present and Future, celebrates the profound impact of the nursing profession from Florence Nightingale to the current students at the William F. Connell School of Nursing who are the future of the nursing profession.  One of the items featured in this exhibit is a letter from Nightingale to a student of hers, Alice Fisher. This letter offers a glimpse into the student-teacher relationship between Alice Fisher and Florence Nightingale. Born in England in 1839, Fisher enrolled in the Nightingale Training School Home for Nurses at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London in 1875 and went on to become a Nightingale nurse of unusual ability.  Fisher became the matron of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, England and later the Lady Superintendant of Nurses at Philadelphia Hospital.

Letter from Florence Nightingale to Alice Fisher, dated July 23, 1881, from the Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History, MS1988-04

Letter from Florence Nightingale to Alice Fisher, dated July 23, 1881, Box 1, Folder 1, Jospehine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History, MS.1988.004, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

In this letter, Nightingale asks if Fisher knows any nursing students who might be interested in enrolling at Nightingale’s School for Nurses at St. Thomas’s Hospital, “We have always, of course, many more applications than we can admit, but, also of course, not always of the right calibre (sic).”  The Philadelphia General Hospital, where Alice Fisher became the Superintendant in 1884, was mired in conditions which cried out for order, cleanliness and discipline. Alice Fisher managed to instill all three of these qualities in PGH during her brief time there.  You can visit the Notes on Nursing exhibit at the Burns Library whenever the library is open.  This exhibit will be on display until June 1st, 2011.  If you can’t visit this exhibit, then don’t forget that the Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History is available for your use in the Burns Library Reading Room.  Contact us by phone at 617-552-4861 or via e-mail at burnsref@bc.edu if  you have any questions.

  • Justine Sundaram, Reference Librarian/Bibliographer, Burns Library

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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