Reforming the Raj: Florence Nightingale's Biomedical Liberalism in British India

Doctoral Dissertation


Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) is best known as the founder of the nursing profession and for her work on training nurses and improving medical conditions for soldiers fighting in Crimea in the 1850s. However, Nightingale was more broadly interested and influential in social reform, particularly in India. Her expertise became so well-known that nearly every viceroy serving between 1857 and the end of the century consulted her at her home in London on issues of health and sanitation before taking up his post. Following the so-called Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the reorganization of British power, Nightingale turned much of her attention toward the Indian peasant, or ryot, class. Nightingale’s suggestions came in the form of a systematic social reform, intertwining liberal politics, land rights, technological innovation, and health care. What Nightingale advocated was a civilizing mission, of sorts, in the guise of a hygiene campaign. My dissertation will contribute to the history of social medicine, public health, and nineteenth-century social policy. But by contextualizing Nightingale’s program within the colonial structure of nineteenth-century India, I also seek to discuss her work in terms of the history of Indian policy and political thought.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04192013-151048

Author Jessica Baron
Advisor Christopher Hamlin
Contributor Jayanta Sengupta, Committee Member
Contributor Thomas Stapleford, Committee Member
Contributor Christopher Hamlin, Committee Chair
Contributor James Smyth, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline History and Philosophy of Science
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2013-04-12

Submission Date 2013-04-19
  • United States of America

  • Florence Nightingale

  • British India

  • public health

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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