Pioneer and Campaigner

ME Action: Millons Missing campaign, 2020

Display No. 106

Florence Nightingale became famous due to her work caring for patients and overseeing the nursing care at the British military hospitals during the Crimean War. However during this time she also contracted Brucellosis. This illness is rare today, and infections can be treated with a course of antibiotics.

But there were no effective treatments available during Nightingale’s lifetime, and this left her with long-term symptoms similar to ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis). However, despite her ill-health she continued to campaign for many years, writing from her bed, using lobbying, personal contacts and her gift for statistics to prove her point.

Inspired by Nightingale, in 2020 the charity ME Action is seeking to illustrate the links between disabled campaigners across the centuries. They are asking people to send in their demands, comments, stories and statistics on quilt squares to highlight the heroic tradition of disabled people campaigning from their beds.

Image courtesy of ME Action

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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!