Caroline Chisholm’s philanthropic work was of lasting benefit to British emigrants and colonies — to Australia in particular. In New South Wales, she found shelter and employment for female immigrants and pressed officials to adopt her schemes for settling families on the land. In London, she arranged free passages for emancipists’ wives and children and encouraged families to emigrate to Australia. In the Victorian goldfields, she provided accommodation for the needy traveller. Tireless and resourceful, she cared little for personal reward or position; and by her own endeavours and careful persuasion, she demonstrated her faith in people, the strength of womanhood, and the need to protect the vulnerable and help working people and their families. This biography casts new light on her life and achievements.
Earlier biographies of Caroline Chisholm have suggested there was a connection between her and Florence Nightingale. However I was unable to substantiate this. Recent research however has confirmed earlier suggestions that Florence Nightingale did know Caroline Chisholm and indeed helped her in her work.
A chance reading of a book on Florence Nightingale by I. B. O’Malley – A Study of her life down to the end of the Crimean War, published in 1931, had a brief reference to Caroline Chisholm. Unlike other references to Florence Nightingale and Caroline Chisholm this reference was notated. It referred to a letter from Florence Nightingale to Henry Edward Manning, later Cardinal Manning, dated June 28th 1852. There followed a paper trail of documents from a church in London, to Oxford, Angers (France) and America. Finding one specific letter was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Eventually the letter was tracked down to a library archive in America†.In the letter of the 28th June 1852 Florence Nightingale wrote that she “went into the country yesterday to organize something for Mrs Chisholm.” This does indeed suggest that Florence Nightingale was helping Caroline Chisholm.
Another letter dated the 29th June 1852 Florence Nightingale to Manning informs him of Caroline’s address in Islington; gives the times that Manning may find her at her premises; that she had a meeting at a National Mission Hall, Applegate; and takes the liberty of enclosing a note of introduction for Manning to Caroline Chisholm. Nightingale would not be offering a letter of introduction to someone she did not know. It also indicates that in all probability Manning followed up Florence Nightingale’s suggestion and went to meet Caroline at her home at 3 Charlton Crescent, Islington.