Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was a pioneer in the field of nursing and a reformer of medical sanitation practices. She developed a model of statistical gathering and reporting for medical data, distinguishing herself as a professional statistician. She authored several books on the topics of medical practices and women's rights, and effected legislation related to medical practices and military medicine. At age 25 she declared an interest in nursing. After training in Germany, she was recruited for service in an army hospital in Scutari in 1854 during the Crimean War. It was there that she became horrified with sanitary practices and began to campaign for improvement. She returned to England in 1856 as a national heroine for her efforts on the soldiers' behalf. Back in England, she established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St Thomas' Hospital. She continued to advocate for a wide variety of social reform issues until her death in 1910.
The Florence Nightingale Letters Collection highlights aspects of Nightingale's work throughout her life. The correspondences exemplify her engagement in policy matters as well as her leadership in the field of Nursing. Many appear on black-bordered mourning stationery. Dr. Karl A Meyer accumulated the letters in this collection, later donating them to the Cook County School of Nursing. The Special Collections Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago acquired the collection in 2000.