Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Paul S. Brantley

Second Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Third Advisor

Gary G. Land


This study explored the similarities and differences of the health beliefs of Ellen G. White and Florence Nightingale and how these beliefs were incorporated into each of their respective schools of nursing, the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas' Hospital and the Medical Missionary Training School for Nurses at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. The research also examined the contextual factors that shaped each woman's philosophy and influenced the manner in which they carried out their work. Additionally, the research provides information about the historical context surrounding the beginnings of modern nursing, education, health, society, and religion in the nineteenth-century world of Florence Nightingale and Ellen G. White.

Predominately primary sources were utilized. The writings of Florence Nightingale were researched at the British Library, the Wellcome Institute, and the Greater London Record Office. The writings of Ellen G. White were found at the Ellen G. White Estate, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

This research revealed that the philosophical beliefs of each woman underpinned her health beliefs. Similarities in their health beliefs included concepts about cleanliness, water, nutrition, sunshine, ventilation, and rest. These concepts were common reform issues ofthat time. Their beliefs about disease, exercise, temperance, and trust in divine power differed. These differences were related to very tent philosophical paradigms and family backgrounds. Aspects of each woman's health beliefs were found in the curriculums of her respective school, although documentation for the spiritual dimension at the Battle Creek school was limited primarily to the informal curriculum.

Differences were also found in the way that each woman reformed nursing and in her source of reform. Florence Nightingale's source of reform was her passion, personal observation, and education. She reformed nursing by using her political influence and money. Ellen G. White's source of reform was her belief in messages from God. Her reform was built on utilizing these principles. The influence that both women played in the role of nursing and health care is still evident in today's schools of nursing.

Subject Area

Nursing--History, White, Ellen Gould Harmon, 1827-1915--Views on health, Nightingale, Florence, 1820-1910--Views on health


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