Nightingale, Florence (1820 – 1910)

Nightingale forwards a ‘Confidential Report’ on Crimea — ‘I will thank you not to let any one else see it’

A fine autograph letter signed, three pages on two adjoining sheets, December 1st 1858. Nightingale writes to the nurse Mary Erskine, in full: ‘I have often thought, you know, of the possibility that you and I might have worked together in Army Hospitals — that future is, I believe, over for me. But I wish I might think that some day would see you working there, for the sake of our men. I venture to send you a copy of a “Confidential” Report of mine to the War Office, which is really confidential, and I will thank you not to let any one else see it, nor even to mention that you have it. I think it may interest you to see a real account of our Crimean disaster, about which there has been so much unreal rant & cant. It is an old story now. But we have not let it become an old story at the War Office and I am still working on its results. Ever sincerely yours, Florence Nightingale’. In very fine condition. Accompanied by the original hand-addressed mailing envelope.

Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organized care for wounded soldiers. So appalled was Nightingale by the pervasive medical neglect and poor conditions, that she wrote, and privately printed, a damning report entitled ‘Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army, Founded Chiefly on the Experience of the Late War’. The report exposed the horrific statistic that 16,000 of the 18,000 deaths in the Crimea were due to preventable diseases caused by poor sanitation and nursing practices. Many of Nightingale’s suggestions were adopted when the Government’s report was published in 1858.