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Florence Nightingale. By Cadet Thornton.

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Florence Nightingale

By Cadet Thornton

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Born in 1820, to a comfortable family, Florence Nightingale was educated by governesses and then by her father, with her older sister, Panthenope. She was familiar with the Greek and Latin classical languages, and modern languages of French, German, and Italian. She also studied history, grammar, and philosophy. At twenty, she overcame parental objections to receive tutoring in mathematics.

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On February 7, 1837, Florence Nightingale heard, by her account, the voice of God telling her that she had a mission in life. It took her some years of searching to identify that mission. This was the first of four occasions where Florence Nightingale said she heard the voice of God.

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By 1844, over parental objections, Florence Nightingale chose a different path than the social life and marriage expected of her by her parents -- she chose to work in nursing, which was then not quite a respectable profession for women.

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Florence Nightingale is most remembered as a pioneer of nursing and a reformer of hospital sanitation methods. For most of her ninety years, Nightingale pushed for reform of the British military health-care system and with that the profession of nursing started to gain the respect it deserved.

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Florence Nightingale's two greatest life achievements-pioneering of nursing and the reform of hospitals-were amazing considering that most Victorian women of her age group did not attend universities or pursue professional careers. Nightingale and her sister learned Italian, Latin, Greek, history, and mathematics by mostly her dad but her aunt also helped prepare for her mathematics .

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When the Crimean War began, reports came back to England about terrible conditions for wounded and sick soldiers. Florence Nightingale volunteered to go to Turkey, and at the urging of a family friend, then secretary of state at war, she took a large group of women as nurses. Thirty-eight women, including 18 Anglican and Roman Catholic sisters, accompanied Florence Nightingale to the warfront.