Preserving the Legacy of Florence Nightingale
Brock Foundation Supports UAB School of Nursing Treasure
Jane and Harry Brock with Barrett and Rick MacKay
Among the many invaluable resources at UAB’s Reynolds Historical Library is a priceless collection of letters written by Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. The collection includes 50 letters, a newspaper clipping, a photograph from her era, and a print of a painting of her from 1872.
As a master’s-level graduate of the UAB School of Nursing and one who worked for years as a nurse, Barrett Brock MacKay, who served for four years first as co-chair and then as chair of the school’s Board of Visitors (BOV), felt a special appreciation for UAB having this rare collection. When MacKay began raising funds for the Nightingale Letters Project, her family donated $45,000 toward it through the Harry B. and Jane H. Brock Foundation.
“Barrett came to us and told us how wonderful the Nightingale letters are, what an asset they are,” says Jane Brock, MacKay’s mother. Harry Brock, MacKay’s father, adds, “We wanted to honor our precious daughter. Barrett is our Florence Nightingale.”
The Florence Nightingale Letters Collection came to UAB through donations from the health-care-memorabilia collections of the late Dr. Lawrence Reynolds. He had purchased the Nightingale letters from a New York bookstore in 1951. The UAB School of Nursing has plans for a Nightingale Letters Project that will spotlight this collection and relate it to today’s nursing practice and nursing education, and also to current School of Nursing endeavors.
As part of the project, a permanent exhibit will be installed at the School of Nursing, and a smaller traveling display will be used in making presentations at other sites. Reinforced with narratives and interactive learning modules, these exhibits will include reproductions of UAB’s Nightingale letters. The original letters will continue to be housed in a climate-controlled, highly secure environment at UAB’s Lister Hill Library.
There also will be activities in learning, research, and dissemination of information to the public. Some activities will explore the linkage between the teachings of Nightingale in the 1800s and today’s nursing practice and global-health initiatives. There are plans to partner with Alabama Public Television to bring the exhibit and letters to a wider audience and to incorporate them into K-12 education so more children can become interested in nursing and other sciences.
In thanking the Brock Foundation for its generous gift, Doreen Harper, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, also praised MacKay’s vision. “There is no question that the lasting messages in the Nightingale letters indeed can help call attention to the work the School of Nursing is doing today in the state, nation, and world,” Harper says. “People are going to be able to see how the writings of Florence Nightingale in the 1800s really link to the broad global mission that exists today for the UAB School of Nursing.”
“It is my hope that more people will come forward and become vested in this,” says MacKay, who wants to communicate her excitement about the project as part of her continued work as a BOV member. “I get so excited when I envision people coming to UAB’s School of Nursing from so many places to see the exhibit and learn about the school. I believe there are all kinds of possibilities for the future.”
Rendering of the future exhibit for the Nightingale Letters Collection at the UAB School of Nursing
Maintaining the Momentum / Summer 2011