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Florence Nightingale Biography

Florence Nightingale: A Life Inspired

Written by Lynn M. Hamilton

This is an interesting biography that focuses on Nightingale’s personal struggles as well as her pioneering work in nursing. Florence was born into a wealthy English Victorian family. Throughout her life, Florence was torn between what was expected of woman born to a well-to-do nineteenth-century family and her strong ties to the Unitarian Church, which demanded community service to those less fortunate in society. Her family’s wide travels in Europe allowed her to meet powerful thinkers like Victor Hugo and Alexis De Tocqueville. While her family urged her to marry, Florence resisted. By the time she was thirty-two, Florence had asserted her independence by assuming a role as superintendent of a nursing home even though she received no salary. Her service in the Crimean War revealed the serious flaws in hospital care. More soldiers died from their illnesses than in battle. Nightingale demanded that abuses like poor lighting, sanitation, and ventilation be addressed. She urged proper training for nursing students and hospital sanitation, reflecting the germ theory of illness.

I was not aware of Florence’s work in India and the depth of personal struggle she experienced between her convictions and the demands of her family. The fact that she refused to sit on her laurels and accept praise for her accomplishments, but rather be self-critical about her own mistakes and failings impressed me. Her influence on modern healthcare practices cannot be underestimated.

I recommend the book for anyone interested in learning more about the evolution of nursing and modern healthcare or to learn about the life of a remarkable, Victorian woman willing to stand up and be counted. Recommended for ages ten and older.

A Glimpse into the World of Mythical Greek Gods

GREEK GODS: Myths, Legends and Ancient History 3rd edition

Written by Roy Jackson

This book of fewer than 100 pages is one of the easiest to follow that I have read on the subject. As a history major, I spent lots of time incorporating related studies in religion, literature, and culture. Most writers approach the subject of Greek gods in a genealogical fashion. Jackson’s approach is to classify them into groups according to the roles they performed. While he logically begins with the primordial deities followed by creation myths and the Titans, he rapidly moves on to the more familiar names of the Olympian Pantheon and some of the well-known myths. Homer’s gods of the underworld familiar to readers of the Odyssey are discussed as well as the sea gods like Poseidon so integral to a nation of seafaring inhabitants. Many religions were tied to the agricultural gods, Demeter, and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Jackson discusses Aesculapius, the god of medicine, as well as winged and sea creatures like the Sphinx, Minotaur, and Chimera.

This book is perfect for children in the middle grades who are intrigued with the folklore but do not want or need unnecessary details. It gives a solid foundation for readers who will later be better prepared to graduate to reading the classics. Recommended for readers ages eight and older.

Barbara Ann Mojica,

LittleMissHistory.com

Raspberry Red Goodness from Mother Earth

Raspberry1The sun is shining and the birds are singing. I notice a few wild raspberries blooming among the shrubbery, and it reminds me of walking with my children happily collecting and eating the berries as we ambled through the countryside. Today we don’t find nearly as many bushes growing untamed along the roads as more construction and fewer farms are seen in my area. Still I wondered where did these berries come from and how did they get here.

There is some archaeological evidence that Paleolithic cave dwellers ate raspberries. Red Raspberry, or Rubus idaeus, is native to Turkey and was gathered by the people living in Troy as early as the first century B.C. Rubus idaeus means bramble bush of Ida named for a nursemaid and the mountains on which they grew in Crete. During the Hellenistic Age they were associated with a Greek fertility myth that the berries were white until Ida, the nursemaid of Zeus, pricked her finger on one of their thorns and stained them red. Later on the Romans conquered vast territories and spread the seed of raspberries throughout their empire as evidenced in archaeological ruins of buildings and forts. These berries are mentioned in the fourth-century writings of Palladius, first Christian bishop of Ireland. During the Middle Ages raspberries were used for food and medicine. Artists employed their red juice in paintings.Only the rich could afford them until King Edward I in England encouraged their cultivation and made them popular in the late 13th century.Raspberry2,pic

The red raspberry may have originally come to North America with the prehistoric peoples crossing the Bering Strait. Explorers arriving in North America found Native Americans eating berries of all kinds. They dried them to use while traveling. European settlers brought seeds and new species of hybrid plants. In 1737 William Prince established the first plant nursery on the continent in Flushing, Queens, NY, and raspberry plants were listed for sale. Estate records from George Washington’s home in Mt. Vernon, dating from 1761, reveal raspberries being cultivated there. One hundred years later, more than forty varieties of raspberries were known throughout America.

Luther Burbank introduced many raspberry hybrids to Americans. He produced a multitude of crosses providing an unlimited variety of qualities. These raspberry plants may be a bush or a vine that grows up to three feet high. Their fruits are ready to eat right off the stems and separate easily by using your fingers, as long as you are careful of the prickly thorns. Wild berries supply food for birds and small animals. Many useful products are gleaned from raspberries: jam, jelly, juice, pies and ice cream. Health benefits are limitless. Raspberries contain high amounts of antioxidants that are believed to fight cancer and heart disease. The high content of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, and Vitamin C, and Niacin keep our bodies strong. In addition the minerals of calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium benefit all.

Today more than 70 million pounds of raspberries are sold within one year. So take a walk this spring to see if you can find some of these tasty and healthy raspberries.

Barbara Ann Mojica

Little Miss History