Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Royal Red Cross and Miss Nightingale

My main aim with my website has always been to make available transcriptions of original documents relating to military nurses, most of which are Crown Copyright documents held at The National Archives, Kew. I started doing it because I was well aware that most of this information was not easily available elsewhere, and also, in part, to cut through the mass of material on the internet about nurses which is inaccurate, poorly presented, and in some cases, just plain wrong. I really want to change the mind-set which says 'It's only nurses - anything will do - no-one will ever know the difference.' I've tried to achieve this by quiet presentation of accurate and original material, rather than direct criticism of others' work, but as old age approaches, and grumpy old woman status becomes firmly stamped on my personality, I become increasingly sensitive to the way that totally incorrect facts are replicated via the web and quickly get accepted as historical fact. During the past couple of weeks, two separate people have contacted me with queries about the award of the Royal Red Cross, and both were quite emphatic in stating that Florence Nightingale was the first awardee. As I know this to be untrue, I pointed out that it wasn't so, but one of these two assured me that they were right and I was wrong - they'd read it on the web - and the other didn't bother to reply at all. So for anyone else out there who is thinking of asking:

Florence Nightingale was NOT the first recipient of the Royal Red Cross; nor the second, third, fourth or fifth. In fact she comes in at number seven, behind a bevy of well-connected ladies, headed by the Princess of Wales (No, not THAT Princess of Wales). Hopefully Google might be kind to me in the future and pick up this posting, which could just start chipping away at the mass of hits that give the wrong answer ... before I get any grumpier ...


  1. Sue

    The good news is that if you go to Google and type ROYAL RED CROSS NIGHTINGALE, your post appears at number four in the search results, specifically, "Florence Nightingale was NOT the first recipient of the Royal Red Cross; nor the second, third, fourth or fifth. ..."

    The bad news is that the first result on Google is this: "The first recipient of The Royal Red Cross was Florence Nightingale for her work in the Crimea War at Scutari Hospital where she attended to injured and ill ..."

    But you've set the ball rolling - and straight in at number 4!

  2. Yes, but unfortunately if you use a broader search term - something like 'Royal Red Cross recipients,' then I'm much farther down, or even (Heavens forbid) ABSENT. Still, I'm getting used to bringing up the rear, and at least it's a start.

  3. also need to change the entry for Florence on this website:

    1. Yes - it probably started there, but unfortunately well beyond my control!