Archive for December, 2021

Newsletter 2021:09

By Lynn McDonald, co-founder | December 4, 2021

Success in Countering Creeping Seacolism in Toronto!

Congratulations to the Nightingale Society, North America, for persuading the top officials, notably the chief nurse, Joy Richards, to take down two large pictures in their lobbies, of the two (supposed) co-founders of nursing, one you-know-who and the other Mrs Seacole, with a fallacious list of her (supposed) nursing accomplishments. The pair of pictures appeared at three major, downtown Toronto hospitals. (Our spy, a patient, says they are not down yet, but we expect that to happen soon.)

Letters sometimes work! Especially if members send more than one.

Congratulations to… 

Paul Crawford, Anna Greenwood, Richard Bates, and Jonathan Memel, whose Florence Nightingale at Home,  2020, has been nominated for an award. People can vote for it at (some already have)  NOW:

Nightingale Society, North America

The group (Toronto, Ohio and Maryland) met by Zoom on 30 November, chaired by Anne Clark and organized by Carolyn Edgar. Carolyn reports that the focus has shifted from “Celebrating Nightingale’s Bicentenary” to defending her and correcting any false statements. It was agreed that, when Nightingale has come under attack, we respond with letter writing saying where they got it wrong.

We would be happy to add new members (occasional zoom meetings now, we hope to meet again in person in 2021). If you are in Canada or the United States and would like to join, or try us! Email

Boston Conference

Many people took part in the zoom symposium “Nightingale 2020” held (from) Boston University School of Public Health, 8 October. There were excellent presentations (especially Dave Green, my spies tell me). 

Unfortunately, speaker Mary Ellen Doona reiterated incorrect claims she had previously published on Nightingale and the Irish Sisters of Mercy. For a critique, with primary sources, see my (Lynn McDonald’s), “Florence Nightingale and Irish nursing” article for the Journal of Clinical Nursing, available online 5 April 2014.

As well, Doona failed to mention that Mother Bridgeman, superior of the Irish Sisters of Mercy, signed a contract on behalf of her nurses to work under Nightingale, a condition to their being accepted on the (second) nursing team sent out. On arrival (and Nightingale knew nothing of it and was not asked), the doctors objected for not only was the Barrack Hospital overcrowded, the large number of nuns upset the religious balance. They, not Nightingale, required that the new arrivals be sent elsewhere. They were, to Koulali, and then sent to the Crimea itself. When Nightingale was put in charge of the Crimea hospital nursing, Bridgeman took her nuns and quit, without advising her! (Nightingale had to scramble to find replacements.)

As to Doona’s accusation of Nightingale having “anti-Catholic” sentiments, she worked very amicably with the nuns of the same order at the Convent of Mercy, Bermondsey, and remained friends with its mother superior, Mary Clare Moore, and other nuns for life. 

Correspondence about Nightingale and the End of the Crimean War

Thanks to Peter Kay for sharing an interesting letter he has acquired and has displayed, from General George Codrington to his Russian counterpart, about the placing of a white cross at a cemetery.

“Vital Power,” Anyone?

Rob Van der Peet, a Dutch retired nurse working on a new translation of Notes on Nursing, invites discussion on Nightingale’s interest in “vital power.” You can email him at