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Nightingale Wheelchair is Part of Centennial Celebration


Posted: 5/9/2011

A significant piece of nursing history has traveled across the United States as part of a celebration honoring a century of nursing excellence. Florence Nightingale’s wheelchair, until recently on display at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, was carefully crated and shipped to the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) School of Nursing to be displayed as part of its centennial celebration, April 28-29, 2011.

“It is truly an honor to have this rare piece of nursing history in our midst,” said OHSU Nursing dean Michael Bleich. “We are very grateful to the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing for loaning it to us as we mark this milestone in our institution’s history.”

Bleich asked Hopkins Nursing dean Martha N. Hill, PhD, RN, if the school would be willing to loan the nursing artifact, to which Hill enthusiastically agreed.

Nightingale, a pioneer of modern nursing, used a wheelchair toward the end of her life and in 1921, noted Hopkins physician Howard Kelly purchased the chair and gave it to the School of Nursing. “If an intimate object can convey a lesson and transmit an inspiration, may this chair suggest the spiritual presence of your great apostle of nursing and prove a blessing to the nursing school,” Kelly wrote in a letter bestowing the gift.

The chair will remain on display at the OHSU School of Nursing through the end of May before it is returned to Johns Hopkins.