Florence Nightingale

Welcome to our first Historic Shuffle. We’re just two pals who sat together in college history classes, attended Trivia Tuesdays, formed a forever friendship and now enjoy going to concerts, drinking craft beer, balancing cups on our heads and making playlists for people of the past. First up:

Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910)

Stage name: Flo’Money

Naturally, we wanted to start with a Shero. She revolutionized nursing by making people wash their hands “and shit.” That is how we summed up our research in a sentence.

Image of Florence being elegant as she plans to take over the nursing world.
Photo courtesy of the Florence Nightingale Museum!

This month, the world celebrates her 200th birthday. If you ask us, Florence is as relevant now more than ever. Friendly reminder before we get into it: thank all of your friends, family and acquaintances who are in the medical field. Sincerely, from us to you: THANK YOU! Florence also thanks you. She is so grateful she wanted to share this playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/2ITC2IweCz6BCvSZvBTfrh

Florence was a Victorian Era lady with modern day flair. So we start this mix with “Modern Woman” by Tennis. She was meant for the frontlines and because of that, was probably seen as “One of the Boys” during her time (cue Katy Perry for twenty-first century angst about a nineteenth-century situation). 

It wouldn’t be a playlist about a nurse with out TLC’s total bop, “No Scrubs.” Simply put, Florence didn’t have no scrubs. Those were created in the 1950s. Working in a dress and apron day in and day out, Florence worked as a nurse on a variety of frontlines: at war, in the hospitals and in homes. Nursing was seen as a lowly career path, but Florence lifted it to new heights. 

There’s record that she had a moment with God and that was what sparked her call to become a nurse. She wrote once, “To be a fellow worker with God is the highest aspiration of which we can conceive man capable.” “Pray” by MC Hammer and Dolly Parton’s “Jesus and Gravity” speak to this phenom. Call it divine intervention or a woman needing an excuse to have a job and not be in the home, however you see it, from that point forward Florence stepped into her career.

Her involvement with the Crimean War is what really put her on the world’s radar. She never raised her “White Flag.” Instead, she assembled a troop of nurses to care for injured soldiers at the British base hospital in Constantinople.

Boys (and girls) were workin’ on empty. The conditions of the hospital and patients were anything but sanitary: bugs, limited soap and spreading disease. They worked night and day to not only care for patients but also to get the hospital into livable shape. Through Hozier’s “Work Song,” you could potentially feel the deep depth of dark emotion that Florence may have felt after a long day of scrubbing floors and making rounds. She told us herself — this is a jam (ha).

We’re sure you’ve seen images of Florence Nightingale around before. She’s typically depicted as a lady with a lamp visiting patients (see below). This portrayal of her was popularized and published throughout the Victorian Era, during and after the Crimean War. A true shero: nursing patients back to health and welcoming them into her light (queue “Lost in the Light” by the Bahamas). After all her hard work and leadership during the war, Florence was awarded the Order of Merit.

Image courtesy of history.com (our favorite website)

Of course, being a woman, you may wonder: was she married? Nope, she was not. She did not want to be “Pageant Material,” and she did not need a man to complete her.

She actually turned down a proposal and lived freely for the entirety of her life. One could say she needed space. This playlist has many songs that represent that angle: “NASA”, “Trust My Lonely,” “She Moves in Her Own Way,” “1950.”

There’s also the question, though: might Florence have preferred the comfort of other women to that of men? No facts are known and that is her business and hers alone. However, we wonder and feature songs that speak to a Florence who may have kept that part of her life in the closet: “I Want to Break Free,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (if you haven’t seen “Across the Universe,” this is sang by Prudence as she stares longingly as her real girl crush from the bleachers of the high school stadium) and “girls.” 

Her whole life, Florence demanded “Respect” and got it. The “Hunger,” which started in her teen years, led her to help the sick, injured and hospitalized. She was a champion for the nursing industry, and leaves an impactful legacy which paved the way for many women, specifically, to follow in her footsteps.

We hope you enjoy this first historic shuffle and join us weekly for new ones. We’ll be giving you the basic facts, beats and commentary — laughing and learning our way through it with all of you.

Cheers to Florence Nightingale for being an inspiration for us all.

Words from Florence herself:

“How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”

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