By: Scott RossPublished: October 21, 2022

Florence Nightingale

The Crimean War kicked off in October 1853, as the Russians went to war with a coalition of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire, in large part over the protection of Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in Palestine. The conflict's legacy includes the balaclava, the "Charge of the Light Brigade," the phrase "thin red line," and the foreign war correspondent. It was the advent of the latter that led to perhaps the war's greatest legacy, the work of Florence Nightingale

Nightingale was born to great wealth and by custom should've been married off not long after her seventeenth birthday. Instead, she wanted to devote herself to caring for those who were unwell and un-wealthy. But after reading in the newspapers the dispatches from the war, Nightingale and 38 volunteer nurses shipped out on October 21, 1854, bound for Crimea. Her experiences on the peninsula changed nursing forever.

She embraced the use of data, once writing that “To understand God’s thought, we must study statistics,” and popularized the polar pie chart; implemented hygienic practices, some as radical as "hand washing"; and spearheaded the movement to clean out the sewer and improve the ventilation in hospitals. It's was estimated by Dr. Stephen Paget, a surgeon of the time, that her efforts lowered the mortality rate of soldiers from 42% to 2%. After the war, she would literally write the book on nursing, which was a bestseller, and establish the world's first nursing school.

Not bad for a spinster.


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