|The Nightingale Society|
|Newsletter||21 October 2016
Report from Lynn McDonald, co-founder, 21 October 2016
The Latest Seacole TV Film
ITV broadcast its new film on Seacole on October 18. Our member, Mark Bostridge, got to make a point or two in it, but it contains much misinformation.
The Google “Doodle” on Seacole appalled people — so many mistakes and exaggerations, although there was a mention of our side.
My letter to the Daily Telegraph appeared, much abbreviated, the following day, with a picture of Seacole wearing medals she was never awarded. The caption says “Tea and sympathy: Mary Seacole set up a restaurant, bar and store for officers in Crimea,” and the title: “For all her work, ‘Mother Seacole’ was no nurse.”
More on the Florence Nightingale Museum
Two members of the Nightingale Society who are fellows of the Royal Historical Society sent a letter to the Trustees of the Florence Nightingale Museum, following up on points raised in a letter from the Society itself: read it here on our website.
Two Great Sources of Misinformation: English Heritage and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
The English Heritage Blue Plaques website has a section on Mary Seacole with flagrant exaggerations and errors. We wrote asking them to correct it. They declined, on the grounds that they used a “reputable” source, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography! True, the ODNB has misinformation on it, but one hope that an esteemed institution like English Heritage would value accuracy – it claims to – not just having an excuse for its errors.
So, herewith our letters to both. (To complicate matters, the ODNB has numerous mistakes in its entry on Nightingale as well.)
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
More National website errors
The National Archives
Seacole Misrepresentations in the Nursing Honor Society
It is troubling to see how much fallacious material is published in otherwise respectable presses or journals. The American nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau International, published Eisler and Potter’s Transforming Interprofessional Partnerships: A New Framework for Nursing and Partnership-Based Health Care in 2014, which won an award from the American Journal of Nursing. In the book, Seacole precedes Nightingale (pp 106-8 and 108-11). The typology, Partnership Principle Illustrated, makes Seacole a partner of Nightingale – although Seacole was a businesswoman and the two met for only about 5 minutes and never discussed nursing!
Seacole is said to have promoted a “democratic and economically equitable structure of linking and hierarchies of actualization in both family and state, conflict creatively used to arrive at solutions.” What does this mean?
Seacole’s mother is incorrectly credited with managing a boarding house for “disabled British soldiers,” when she ran a small hotel mainly for British officers. Seacole is said to have treated British soldiers in Panama for dysentery and cholera, but the British Army was not there – her customers and patients were men on their way to the California Gold Rush.
Seacole is said to have been excluded from the Crimean nursing “despite her obvious qualifications. by “the hierarchy of the domination system.” An obvious botch up, the authors have Seacole deciding to go to the Crimea after meeting Nightingale in Scutari. However, Seacole’s own memoir states that her destination was the Crimea, where her business partner had already arrived. She met Nightingale in Scutari en route, and asked for a bed for the night as her plans were already made to move on.
Nightingale’s work is also overpraised, although less so. (P 108). She is credited with espousing an “equal valuing of the male female halves of humanity; empathic, mutually beneficial and caring relations are considered moral and desirable.” Whatever!
The authors oddly have the medical establishment, on nursing, “unable to break free of the domination paradigm’s rigid hierarchies.” Do they not know that doctors had a university education and sometimes further specialization, while nurses then did not even get into secondary school, let alone university? How could anyone expect doctors to treat women with so little education as professional peers?