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Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was a nurse, social reformer and statistician. She was highly influential in laying the foundations for modern professional nursing. 

We have 25 books from Nightingale's personal library from 1841, donated to the Royal College of Nursing by her relative Sibella Bonham Carter (1899-2005). Florence Nightingale signed or annotated some of the books, and some have inscriptions to her. 

As well as Nightingale's books, we hold a collection of her handwritten letters, which give a unique insight into her family life and work. View the full collection on our catalogue


Nightingale was a prolific letter writer

Our unique collection contains handwritten letters from her on topics such as her family, army supplies and sanitation, including:

  • Correspondence with her associates on county medical officers
  • Letters regarding the health of the rural poor.
  • Copies of printed letters to nurses and probationers
  • Copies of pamphlets about Nightingale. 
  • A selection of reports on the Army and Sanitation.

This collection is available for research at the RCN Archive in Edinburgh. Please contact us first to discuss your visit.


Florence Nightingale Digitization Project

Handwritten letters from Florence Nightingale, dated from 1855 to 1902, have been digitised and are available online.

The Florence Nightingale Digitization Project is a collaborative international venture hosted by the Howard Gottlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, which has collected nearly 1900 letters handwritten or narrated by Florence Nightingale. 33 letters from the RCN Archive written between 1855 to 1902 are included in this project.

View the entire collection here


Florence Nightingale Foundation collection

The Florence Nightingale Foundation awards scholarships to nurses and midwives in the UK, to support them in making a difference to patient care, policy and practice in their chosen fields. Our collection consists of the research reports written by these scholars.

The reports provide a unique insight into nursing in different countries around the world, as well as regional studies within the United Kingdom. They reflect a wide range of nursing topics such as motor neurone disease, leprosy, infection control, safeguarding and mental health. A small number of the reports focus on nursing history.

Browse the complete collection on our library catalogue.

Visit the Florence Nightingale Foundation website