Lit Review → Thesis Statement

Was Florence Nightingale at the Middlesex Hospital in 1854?
[excerpted from 31 August 1854 (HU)]

My misadventure with Edward Cook. I’ll begin with a cautionary tale about how I initially deviated from my normal research methodology and wasted a lot of time.

The misadventure began with an impulsive response to a reasonable thought. It occurred to me that my historical narrative should include descriptions of what was happening at the Middlesex Hospital, where many cholera victims were either carried or dragged themselves during the early days of the outbreak in St. James, Westminster. I had recently re-read two medical journal pieces by Alexander Stewart in which he described what happened at the Middlesex Hospital during the “Soho outbreak,” as he called it (the mind boggles at the variety of place-names for the same event). Then I vaguely recalled a biographer’s mention that Florence Nightingale had served as a caregiver at that hospital shortly before departing for the Crimea. Worth looking into, I said to myself. Nightingale’s experiences might permit me to add a perspective from the era prior to formal training of nurses.

These musings occurred as I was walking toward a parking garage on the Emory University campus. I didn‘t have time that afternoon to retrace my steps to the main library and undertake a systematic literature search. My choice was to wait a few weeks for my next library trip and make a proper job of it, or (fatal error—the temporary measure I chose) to pop into the Health Sciences library close by the parking garage and check their holdings.

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