|The Nightingale Society|
|Newsletter||June 2016 (#2)
Report from Lynn McDonald, 8 June 2016
Apologies for some repetition with the CWFN email (some people are on only one or the other email list, and some items pertain to both).
History Hoax Awards
The History Hoax Committee advises us that the first nominations have come in: Boris Johnson (for his promotion of Seacole when mayor of London) and Jeremy Hunt (secretary of state for health). The nominator of the second gave an excellent explanation of his demerits:
For promoting the replacement of Florence Nightingale with Mary Seacole as the “real founder” of nursing, through the department’s programme, “Heroes of Healthcare.” In erroneously omitting Florence Nightingale from her role as founder of nursing, public health visionary and pioneer in statistical analysis to improving public health and saving lives, the programme instead honoured Mary Seaocle for nursing, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson for women in medicine, Edward Jenner for medicine, and Nye Bevan for the healthcare system. All deserved credit for their contribution, but not to the exclusion of Florence Nightingale, whose quality and quantity of health impacts were far greater.
Unveiling of Seacole Statue at Nightingale’s Hospital
A media release confirms the date of June 30 2016, at noon, for the unveiling. The event is private, invitations only. The Nightingale Society was not invited.
No royal personage is named as presiding – perhaps no one wanted to be associated with such a campaign of misinformation?
The media release reveals a new fake honour for Mary Seacole, that she was “mentioned in dispatches.” Two military historians confirm that this is a wrongful use of the term. “Mentioned in dispatches” refers to an official report made by the person’s commander, for gallantry. The recipient gets an oakleaf on the relevant campaign medal.
Yet the Seacole campaign announcement states: “She was mentioned in dispatches where her contributions were praised.” In fact, she was mentioned by the Times war correspondent, W.H. Russell, in a story. He, too, was on the battlefield, getting stories – neither of them was under fire, as the battle was over when they went out. He knew her as a customer at her restaurant/bar, which he left with an unpaid bill.
Selling sandwiches and wine to spectators watching a battle safely from a hill does not constitute gallantry worthy of being “mentioned in dispatches.”
Another piece of misinformation in the Seacole unveiling announcement is that “the British Army asked her to supervise nursing services at their headquarters” [in Jamaica during the yellow fever epidemic of 1853]. There were no nursing services at their headquarters, and Seacole’s memoir states only that she was “sent for by the medical authorities to provide nurses for the sick at Up-Park Camp [Kingston],” but that she did not!