To seven English museums

The following letter was sent to seven English museums which include exaggerated or distorted information on the life and achievements of Mary Seacole. Institutions and addressees are listed at the end of the page.

Dear Museum Director

Re: False information on Mary Seacole

We are asking you, as other museums with incorrect information in their displays and websites, to correct it.

Museums, as educational institutions, should provide reliable information, not propaganda. You invite school tours and provide websites as background for teaching, and doubtless misinform many pupils, teachers and parents who take advantage of your material.

We entirely agree that the life of Mary Seacole deserves celebration, but on its own merits. She was independent, enjoyed many adventures, was kind and resourceful in difficult circumstances (epidemics in Jamaica and Panama) and during the Crimean War. She left a fine account of them in her Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, reference to which will show how wrong your material is.

Seacole should not be credited with the work Florence Nightingale did, either during the Crimean War or in the founding of the modern nursing profession, hospital reform and the advancement of public health care. Nightingale’s achievements were enormous, and they deserve museum space and time.

We are warning schools, parents and pupils of the shoddy material of your and other museums in TES Connect and the Mary Seacole Information Website. We will be happy to remove the warnings as soon as you remove the erroneous material. We invite use of the Mary Seacole Information Website for further material on the many errors put out about Seacole, and more reliable information:

Yours sincerely
(signed by 17 members of the Nightingale Society)

Letters were sent to:

Janice Murray, director general
National Army Museum
Royal Hospital Road
London SW3 4HT

Director and
Dr Kenny Webster, learning manager, Birmingham Museums
Soho House Museum
Birmingham B18 5LB

Ian Blatchford, director
Science Museum, London
Exhibition Road
London SW7 2DD

Professor Tim Entwistle director & chief executive
Royal Botanic Gardens, and
Botanic Gardens Education Network
Surrey TW9 3AB

Thackray Medical Museum
141 Beckett St, Leeds
West Yorkshire LS9 7LN
Liz Egan

Jack Lonman, director, Museum of London
Noel Hayden, programme manager
Museum of London
150 London Wall
London EC2Y 5HN;

Gunnersbury Park Museum
Popes Lane
London W3 8LQ