Florence Nightingale in absentia: nursing and the 1893 Columbian Exposition

J Holist Nurs. 2010 Dec;28(4):305-12. doi: 10.1177/0898010110361523. Epub 2010 Aug 31.


In 1893, Chicago hosted the Columbian Exposition. This event showcased America's social, cultural, and scientific advances and its growing cultural parity with Western Europe. This was the first major exposition in which women played a prominent role. Integral to the fair was a series of Congresses that provided an international platform for discussion of social issues. The Congress on Hospitals, Dispensaries, and Nursing, a section of the International Congress of Charities, Correction, and Philanthropy, particularly focused on health care issues. Nursing leaders from Europe and North America participated. Although Florence Nightingale provided a major paper that was read at the Congress, she was unable to attend the event. The intent of this article is to examine the issues and themes debated at the 1893 Congress and identify how the influence of Nightingale effected these discussions and the development of Western nursing for the next half-century.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Chicago
  • Congresses as Topic / history*
  • Education, Nursing / history*
  • England
  • Exhibitions as Topic*
  • Female
  • History of Nursing
  • History, 19th Century
  • Holistic Nursing / history
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role / history*
  • Philosophy, Nursing / history*
  • Societies, Nursing / history
  • Women, Working / history
  • Writing

Personal name as subject

  • Florence Nightingale