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Exhibit Highlights

burns library

Notes on Nursing:  Past, Present and Future

January 18th, 2011 – June 1st, 2011

Ford Tower, John J. Burns Library

To view this exhibit, please see the Burns Library hours.

This exhibit features items from the Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History, including original letters by Florence Nightingale, a 19th century pharmaceutical cabinet and a first edition (1859) of Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing:  What It Is, and What It Is Not.


One of the items featured in this exhibit is a letter written by Florence Nightingale, dated April 1, 1855, from the barracks hospital in Scutari, Turkey.  This letter is part of the Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History. In this letter, Nightingale writes to an acquaintance, a Mrs. Lewis. Nightingale laments the toll that dysentery has taken on some people of their mutual acquaintance. In February 1855, the death rate at the barracks hospital in Scutari where Nightingale was posted, was 42%. A few months later, the death rate had decreased to 2%. Prior to Nightingale’s arrival, sanitary conditions at this hospital were so  deplorable that a royal inquiry was put in place to investigate the horrible illnesses and sufferings of soldiers at the barracks hospital in Scutari. Nightingale wrote to Britain’s secretary of war Sidney Herbert to offer her services.  Nightingale arrived in Scutari on November 4th, 1854 and she spent many hours in the wards, patrolling with a lamp to give personal care to the wounded. Thus she became known as the “Lady with the Lamp”.


Nursing professor and historian Josephine A.  Dolan (1913 – 2004) became the first instructor in the School of Nursing at the University of Connecticut in 1944.  At the University of Connecticut, Dolan taught a course on the history of nursing, often using primary sources to illustrate this subject to her students.  She pursued nursing history for the remainder of her lengthy career, including her work with the Committee on Historic Source Materials in Nursing.  Dolan received many honors, including the first National League for Nursing Distinguished Service Award (1972), an honorary degree from Boston College (1987), and the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s Lucy Lincoln Drown Nursing History Society’s award (1992). 


The Burns Library would also like to thank Professor Stacey Barone and her “Introduction to Professional Nursing” class for providing the inspiration for this exhibition, which brings together the past, present and future of Nursing.

For more information, see the Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History Finding Aid available in the Library catalog.

IMAGES: top - Letter from Florence Nightingale to Mrs. Lewis, dated April 1, 1855, Box 1, Folder 1, MS1988-04, Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History, John J. Burns Library; middle - Nursing professor and historian Josephine A. Dolan; bottom - Professor Stacey Barone and C.S.O.N. students.