Of expressly autobiographical notes, Miss Nightingale left very few. At the date of the Codicil above mentioned she seems to have contemplated the probability of some authoritative record of her life; for in that year she wrote a short summary of what she called “My Responsibility to India,” detailing her relations with successive Secretaries of State, Governors-General, and other administrators. Her memory in these matters was still accurate, for the summary is fully borne out by letters and other papers of the several dates: it adds some personal details. In private letters she sometimes recounted, at later times, episodes or experiences in her life, but such references are few. Nor, except for a few years, did Miss Nightingale keep any formal diary; and during the Crimean episode she was too incessantly busy with her multitudinous duties to find time for many private notes.
The principal authority for Miss Nightingale's Life is thus the collection of papers aforesaid, and these are very copious in information. The records, in one sort or another, of her earlier years are full. The papers relating to her work during the Crimean War are voluminous, and I have supplemented the study of these by consulting the official documents concerning Miss Nightingale's mission which are preserved, among War Office papers, in the Public Record Office. Her papers relating to public affairs during the years 1856 to 1861 are also very voluminous. After the latter date she seems, as already stated, to have kept almost everything, even every advertisement, that she received. She often made notes for important letters that she sent, and sometimes kept copies of them. Of official documents, of printed memoranda, pamphlets, reports, and returns, she accumulated an immense collection. And though she was not a regular diarist, she was in the habit of jotting down on sheets of notepaper her engagements, impressions, thoughts, meditations, as also in many cases reports of conversations.