Florence Nightingale

Edward W. Bok and his Scrapbook

Mark Lomas with the scrapbook his father Stanley Lomas discovered.

Alex Attewell, who was director of the Florence Nightingale Museum in London for over 10 years, studies the scrapbook.

Edward William Bok was born in Den Helder, Holland, on 9th October, 1863. When Bok was seven years old his family emigrated to the United States. After attending school in Brooklyn, New York City, Bok found work as an office boy at the Western Union Telegraph Company.

Bok had a strong desire to become a journalist and managed to get some of his work published in the Brooklyn Eagle. He continued his education at night school and in 1887 became advertising manager of the Scribner's Magazine. Two years later he became editor of the Ladies' Home Journal. Bok used the magazine to campaign for women's suffrage, pacifism, conservation of the environment and improved local government. By 1900 it was the best selling magazine in the United States.

Bok retired from the Ladies' Home Journal in 1919. His autobiography, The Americanization of Edward Bok (1920) was a best-seller and won a Pulitzer Prize. He also helped to fund the $100,000 American Peace prize. Edward Bok died in Tucson, Arizona, on 9th January, 1930.

From The Americanization of Edward Bok, an autobiography written in the third person:.

Edward Bok’s next quest was to be even more disappointing; he was never even to reach the presence of the person he sought. This was Florence Nightingale, the Crimean nurse. Bok was desirous of securing her own story of her experiences, but on every hand he found an unwillingness even to take him to her house. “No use,” said everybody. “She won’t see any one. Hates publicity and all that sort of thing, and shuns the public.” Nevertheless, the editor journeyed to the famous nurse’s home on South Street, in the West End of London, only to be told that “Miss Nightingale never receives strangers.”

“But I am not a stranger,” insisted the editor. “I am one of her friends from America. Please take my card to her.”

This mollified the faithful secretary, but the word instantly came back that Miss Nightingale was not receiving any one that day. Bok wrote her a letter asking for an appointment, which was never answered. Then he wrote another, took it personally to the house, and awaited an answer, only to receive the message that “Miss Nightingale says there is no answer to the letter.”

In 1910, when he was ten years old, Stanley Lomas was riding his bike one day in Philadelphia and discovered a discarded scrapbook of Nightingale memorabilia belonging to Edward W. Bok.

• See a copy of a Nightingale letter from the scrapbook.
• See photos of Nightingale's funeral from the scrapbook.
• See Mark Lomas's video of his father's discovery.