Archive for September, 2021

Newsletter 2021:07

By Lynn McDonald, co-founder | September 6, 2021

Possibly meet informally in London?

I will be in London September 15 for an unknown period of time–one event has been scheduled and I hope to work at the British Library. However, with the pandemic, life is uncertain. This is not the time to hold the usual in-person meetings we have had in the past, and Zoom can be better organized from my home office in Toronto. However, it would be great to meet anyone who is, or expects to be, in London after September 15. Please contact me at if this might work.

More Propaganda: the Seacole pairing with Nightingale now a story in Toronto

In the last newsletter, a letter was reported sent to Princess Margret Hospital officials (no reply received) on the display of a Seacole picture in the lobby, with one of Nightingale (this reported by a nurse). The pairing has gone on, to the University Health Network (UHN), a major combination of downtown hospitals (this report by a patient). An online blurb sets out misinformation, more inaccurate than usual. It describes Seacole as “a British-Jamaican nurse and businessperson during the 1800s, provided sustenance and care for British soldiers at the battlefront during the Crimean War. A nursing pioneer, she opened a hospital hotel caring for those most in need. This was around the same time as Florence Nightingale, but Mary is seldom mentioned.”

Further, according to Dr Joy Richards, vice-president, patient relations, “Nursing would not be what it is today without these leaders and it’s important to open these conversations.” How about some facts in the conversations? And how does misinformation “empower” women into leadership? another purpose announced by UHN.

For the record, Mrs Seacole opened her restaurant/bar/catering service for officers in late spring, 1855—it was never a hospital and she never said it was. Nightingale arrived in November 1854, and got the nursing going and many improvements made (laundry, bedding, clean clothes) at the largest hospital in the world, the Scutari Barrack Hospital.

Question: To those of you who think that the United States and Canada are immune to these stories, take note. The next pairing of Seacole with Nightingale may come to a hospital near you.

On a lighter note

Thanks to Dr Ruth Richardson for sharing a podcast on the discovery of chloroform, which includes a short, but very positive, account of Nightingale’s work in the Crimean War.

Ropar Institute of Technology, India

Thanks to Doreen Armbruster, typesetter for the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, for donating her collection of 16 volumes to this new university. They write that they are delighted to have them on the shelf at their library.

Meeting of the North American Florence Nightingale Society

The meeting took place on 1 September by zoom. The main action from the meeting was to pursue the authorities at the Toronto downtown hospitals on the Mary Seacole propaganda picture.

Anyone in the United States or Canada who would like to link up with this network, let us know: