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National Nurses Week
30 Old Burlington Street. W. July 23rd [1861] My dear Sir Joshua, I thank you very much for your letters official & non official. I shall talk over the whole subject with Mr. Clough when he returns & meanwhile what I write to you is only private & for your own consideration. I so entirely agree with you that one “certificated nurse” sent out to a “large hospital establishment” will do little to leaven the lump, that I have always impressed upon Mr. Whitfield & Mrs. Wardroper that what they should seek to do is to send out a whole staff or part of one — to any provincial hospital — which makes such an application [Several in fact have done so]. This could not of course be done the first year. 2. It would be impossible to recommend a head-nurse under two years’ training, but, as the experiment goes on, I think the Committee will be able to learn from Mr. Whitfield & Mrs. Wardroper, who can be recommended as head-nurse — and make their own terms for her, with the Provincial Hospital …
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… [Provincial Hospitals generally have but one head-nurse]. She would then be in a position to train in her turn, as you point out. [With regard to their taking the position of Matron, these vacancies can occur but seldom]. With regard to the position of head-nurse in Workhouse Infirmaries, if better terms could be offered, plenty of these places could be found who would offer the very best opportunities for training others. [I do not think, that the “large London Hospitals” will take our nurses, for several of them are going to imitate the example of St. Thomas’s, and have written to me for information — a result which I think is even more satisfactory than if they had taken “certificated nurses” from us.] While I quite agree that our nurses will not be so useful if placed “in a subordinate position” in other hospitals, the question is whether any of our first year’s batch were capable of being “placed in a more commanding position.” Anything which can be done, “to bring into the field a higher class of persons,” is most desirable. We must consider about this. You are aware …
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… that several ladies were among the first year’s probationers, and I do not think that any discomfort (unnecessary) there is to be removed which would deter a “higher class.”
I hope very shortly to submit to you (but this is still private) a proposal from King’s College Hospital, to utilise the remaining part of the N. Fund income in training nurses there — who shall also have a
midwifery education.
Believe me dear Sir Joshua. Ever sincerely & gratefully yours,
Florence Nightingale P.S. In spite of so high an authority as Mr. Marjoribanks, I cannot but think that 7 percent charge on outlay would have been quite high enough, especially as the Hospital itself has taken the lion’s share of the trained nurses. With regard to the charge for the maintenance, where you justly say that “economy is not the only question”, Miss Jones, the Superintendent of King’s Coll: Hospital, & I both found that our mode of dieting the women, which included meat twice a day, puddings every day, a choice of vegetables, fruit & other varieties, was …
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… both more healthy, & much better liked by the women (altho’ involving much more trouble to us), than the St. Thomas’s mode of everlasting joint, potatoes, & no pudding, although St. Thomas charges 10s a week without tea, sugar & washing & Miss Jones & I both did our mode for 8s a week, including tea, sugar & washing.
I have far from answered your letter, I hope to enter into its subject much more fully — this is only by way of conversation.
I quite think that the result of the first year’s trial has been satisfactory.
I have no doubt you know that, if we could get a “higher class” of women, we should have no difficulty in securing such situations & salaries for them, as would be even for them a suitable “provision”. F.N.
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National Nurses Week
Hampstead NW Aug 21 / 61 My dear Sir J. Jebb. I am sorry to have come upon you at such an inopportune time & glad that you approve the scheme.
H. Bonham Carter tells me that it is impossible to have a Meeting of Committee or of Council for a month — as everybody is out of town — So you will not be troubled for that time — And I think we may still begin at King’s Coll: Hosp: in October. I have an answer from Mr. Marjoribanks about the financial part of it. And he …
National Nurses Week
… sees no difficulty in allowing the K.C. Hosp. £500 for 2 years, if the Committee approve. He will postpone purchasing £800 stock to add to the capital: in order to have the £500 to pay down at once to St. John’s House, if such is the decision of the Committee, when it meets. About another subject, as to which you were so good as to write to me viz: the making these Nurses (of St Thomas’) training centres themselves — I have received the enclosed.
National Nurses Week
The Bath Hospital has, you see, taken two of the Nurses (second-class certificates — one of them, Medhurst, of doubtful character, by Mrs. Wardroper’s own showing) and advertise them as trainers. Our training will thus fall into discredit, I fear, and our Committee be blamed. Would it not be well that the Committee should propose that all appointments for special service, such as training others, should be submitted to the Committee, so that persons engaging Nurses for such an object, might have the advice of the Committee? Otherwise the Committee should take no responsibility in the matter. Would you be so kind as to bring this before them the next time you meet?
National Nurses Week
I have marked on our Annual Sheet the two places, Pp. 2 & 4, where these Nurses are mentioned. Mrs. Wardroper is herself very much alarmed at this occurrence, which is evidently a mere job on the part of the Bath Hospital people. She wrote to me about it as soon as ever she had seen the enclosed Advertisement: but too late to prevent it. She says she warned the Bath Hospital Managers what sort of woman Medhurst was — “not so trustworthy” she said “as the others” — & that they did not say a word to her about putting them in such as a position as that of training others. Farther, would it not be well eventually to certificate no Nurse, not fit to be Head Nurse — which certainly …
National Nurses Week
… should not be done under 2 years’ training? And still there would be many good Head Nurses, not suitable as trainers of others. [It certainly never came into my head that any Hospl. would take our “second-class certificates” as “Superintendents” — (vide printed paper.) These are things we could only learn by experience — And I am very anxious that the Committee should consider this matter.] At the same time, you will be glad to hear that Mrs. Wardroper gives a very good account of the 6 Nurses retained at St. Thomas’ for a second year. She says that they will be quite equal for taking places as Head Nurses, if they choose …
National Nurses Week
… to leave the Hospital after the second year — & that they already do & know more than many Head Nurses.
It is only for future consideration that I trouble you with this subject now .

I trust that Lady Amelia is better — that she will quite recover at Brighton.
Believe me.
Sincerely & gratefully yours,
F. Nightingale
National Nurses Week
Please let me repeat that I attach no blame to Mrs. Wardroper & Mr. Whitfield. I believe that Stone, & even Medhurst, are far better than the run of Provincial Hospital Head Nurses. I also believe that, four or five years hence, Mrs. Wardroper & Mr. Whitfield themselves will not recommend for a certificate women like Stone, far less like Medhurst.
I think it important the Committee should bear in mind to raise the standard, year by year. At the same time, I think more has been done the first year than we were at all entitled to expect. F.N.
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Letters reveal pieces of Nightingale's journey
Her education, staffing level and respect concerns mirror present-day issues
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National Nurses Week wouldn’t be complete without paying tribute to modern nursing’s founder, Florence Nightingale. She led nursing from a disreputable past into a position of respect and credibility within England and throughout the world.
Did you know more than 13,000 of her original letters still exist today? Her influence is profound and why we are proud to share two special, hand-picked letters with you.

In 1861 Nightingale wrote two letters to Sir Joshua Jebb, a family friend and chair of the original Nightingale Fund Council. Within them she shares her concern for nursing’s character, staffing and education with great passion.
12 pages addressed to Sir Joshua Jebb on July 23, 1861
this extensive letter
to Jebb, Nightingale shares her concern about educating nurses, appointing a head nurse and the benefits of doing so for other nurses.
View letter
7 pages addressed to Sir Joshua Jebb on Aug. 21, 1861
In this letter to Jebb,
Nightingale addresses financial matters, as well as the importance of proper staffing and training of any appointed staff, to maintain high standards and a good reputation.
View letter
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