Boston University’s Gotlieb Center Leads New Digital Archive of Letters Written by Florence Nightingale
From Boston University:
Since the launch of the Florence Nightingale Digitization Project in August 2014, more than 2,000 letters written by Nightingale have been digitized and added to a comprehensive online database. BU’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center is one of the collaborating partners in the international project. Photos courtesy of the Florence Nightingale Museum
More than 100 years after her death, Florence Nightingale remains the most famous nurse in history, the subject of numerous biographies, scholarly articles, documentaries, and films. While supervising a team of nurses during the Crimean War (1853–1856), she revolutionized the care of wounded and sick soldiers by implementing a number of improvements in hygienic practices, including handwashing, and other steps that significantly reduced the death rate of British soldiers.
Now more than 2,000 of Nightingale’s letters are available for viewing online, thanks in large part to Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center (HGARC), which embarked on a pioneering international collaboration two years ago with the Florence Nightingale Museum, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Wellcome Library to create a comprehensive digital database of Nightingale’s voluminous correspondence. Known as the Florence Nightingale Digitization Project, the database offers scholars, biographers, students, and anyone interested in the history of nursing free, public access to letters that have long been held in private collections.
The Nightingale Project was conceived by Vita Paladino, director of HGARC. The Gotlieb Archives possessed just over 300 of Nightingale’s letters, the largest collection in the world outside of the United Kingdom, and Paladino (MET’79, SSW’93) wanted to create an expansive online archive that would allow the British reformer’s correspondence to reach as large an audience as possible. “Nightingale is the benchmark, she’s the founder of nursing as we know it, and the material is still relevant,” Paladino says. “
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