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Photo of Florence Nightingale

This Reynolds-Finley Historical Library's collection of fifty handwritten letters by modern nursing pioneer, Florence Nightingale, spans from 1853 to 1893. Purchased in 1951 from the Old Hickory bookstore in New York by Lawrence Reynolds M.D., these letters came to the university when Dr. Reynolds donated his collection of approximately 5,000 rare books and manuscripts related to the history of medicine and science to establish the Reynolds Historical Library in 1958. The letters offer a unique perspective into the life of Florence Nightingale, particularly during a period for which little information is currently known.

About half of the letters concern sanitation in India, and were primarily written to T. Gillham Hewlett, Health Officer of Bombay. In the remainder, largely addressed to Mme. Julie Salis Schwabe, Nightingale discusses war relief efforts and charitable contributions for the Franco-Prussian and Austro-Hungarian wars.

To facilitate research UAB Libraries, in conjunction with the UAB School of Nursing, has digitized the letters and they are now freely available through the UAB Digital Collections.