Pioneer and Campaigner

Florence in her own words: The British Empire in India

Display No. 2

India came under direct rule of the British Empire in 1858, shortly after the Crimean War. Early on, Nightingale was optimistic that British colonial rule might bring benefits for India. In ‘Life or Death in India’ in 1874 she acknowledged some improvements in sanitary conditions had been made, but too slowly.

As time went on, she became discontent about the lack of progress. By 1888 she wrote:

“A curious and terrible book might be made of how we have tried to benefit the natives and sunk them deeper than they were before.”

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Nightingale is respected worldwide for her pioneering role in developing the nursing profession, her statistical work, and her evidence-based approach to healthcare. In honour of her bicentenary the World Health Organisation have named 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

In our special exhibition, you will find out about objects, people and places which tell interesting stories about Florence’s life and legacy. You’ll discover artefacts from her life, people she both inspired and challenged, and places she helped to shape. There’s many more insights too!

Please click on the different sections of her famous coxcomb diagram to explore various aspects of her life and legacy. We hope you enjoy exploring!