Auctions | April 15, 2020

Signed Florence Nightingale Letter Among Treasures in Heritage Historical Manuscripts Auction

Dallas, TX – A letter signed by Florence Nightingale, whose name has become synonymous with the altruistic spirit many associate with the members of the medical profession, is among the featured lots in Heritage Auctions’ Historical Manuscripts Auction April 22 in Dallas, Texas.

In the letter (estimate: $2,000+) addressed to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, Nightingale expresses her gratitude for his advice in a recent letter to her, and promising to help distribute a large donation Sultan Abdulmecid of the Ottoman Empire made to the nurses and hospitals in response to efforts by Nightingale and other British nurses to improve conditions in hospitals during the Crimean War.

“When she heard about the substandard conditions of the hospitals, Florence Nightingale traveled in 1854 to Scutari, a district in Istanbul, with more than 30 nurses to care for those who were sick and dying,” Heritage Auctions Historical Manuscripts Director Sandra Palomino said. “She helped to coordinate a Sanitary Commission that was brought in to address the sanitation and ventilation concerns, changes that had a significant impact on the death rate at the hospital.”

Nightingale was hailed for her unending efforts to care for the patients, so much so that she earned the name “The Lady with the Lamp.” After learning of her selfless dedication, Abdulmecid made a sizeable donation to the nurses and hospitals, and presented Nightingale with a diamond and carnelian bracelet.

In the letter, Nightingale seeks Lord Stratford’s approval for her distribution of the donated funds, writing, in part, “I beg to thank your Excellency for your kind letter of July 8, & for the advice which it contains, which I have hastened to follow by referring the matter touching the Sultan's donation to the Nurses and its distribution to authority at home.”