How & Why NIGH Began
NIGH is the direct outgrowth of a dream — first shared by three Nightingale scholars — Drs. Barbara Dossey, Louise Selanders and Deva-Marie Beck — when they met for the first time in London, in 1999 — as they prepared to publish new Nightingale research that later became their co-authored textbook Florence Nightingale Today: Healing, Leadership, Global Action.
The composite-photo on the left features — from the top — Dr. Barbara Dossey who has crafted the only nurse-authored illustrated biography of Nightingale The Commemorative Edition of Florence Nightingale, Mystic, Visionary, Healer — Dr. Louise Selanders, America's first Nightingale scholar, who has led annual Nightingale Tours to London for many years — and Dr. Deva-Marie Beck — whose doctoral research was the first to document Nightingale's relevance to today's global civil society global and this relevance for today's nursing and midwifery practice.
In response to the new millennium — and keynoting at the first ever Nightingale Service convened at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in 2001 — these three — who also co-founded NIGH — asked themselves “what would Florence Nightingale have done with email, fax machines and the brand new World-Wide Web?”
To answer this, NIGH’s founders first crafted the Nightingale Declaration for a Healthy World — that has become an online commitment for at least 22,000 nurses, midwives and concerned citizens from 106 nations — with a 1000 of these leaders signing on behalf of groups totaling more than 3 million people.
Seeking to build upon Florence Nightingale’s timeless, universal legacy, NIGH’s mandate has emerged from in-depth studies of her phenomenal life. Beyond her ‘lady of the lamp’ image of devotion during the Crimean War — and then, even beyond her founding of modern secular
nursing education — Nightingale’s work contributed greatly to the global health of her time.
NIGH’s founders and current teams — Nightingale scholars, nursing educators, researchers, clinicians, students, community health activists, communicators and strategists working on grassroots-to-global concerns — have seen and are achieving the development of NIGH as an innovative model to understand and experience the value of her wider accomplishments — her relevance to the 21st century.
“Women dream til they have no longer the strength to dream — those dreams against which they so struggle — so honestly, vigorously and conscientiously.... yet which are their life.”
Florence Nightingale, 1860
Image Credits: Dr. Dossey from her Archives; Dr. Selanders from Michigan State University Photo Services and Dr. Beck from NIGH's Archives.