To The National Archives

The National Archives (TNA)

Dear Sirs/Mesdames

We write with concern about the errors on your website regarding Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole. You revised (or retracted?) the material on Mary Seacole, but the old, highly erroneous, material on her is available as “archived.” It springs up late in the entry on Nightingale, where you refer to two other nurses, Seacole, with a link, and Elizabeth Davis. In fact, there were hundreds of nurses, and Seacole was not a nurse at all. See Lynn McDonald, Florence Nightingale: The Crimean War, 2010, for details about many of the other nurses, and there are several other sources. Davis was a nurse, while Seacole’s role was that of a businesswoman, with hospital volunteering and, on precisely 3 occasions, first aid on the battlefield, after selling food and wine to spectators. Her help was doubtless much appreciated, but it does not constitute nursing.

The Seacole material is listed under “Teachers’ notes” > “External links,” thus inviting teachers to use fallacious material you archived! We could send you a list of the factual errors in the archived section, but you may have them in your files.

The problem remains that your website is a source of flagrantly wrong material. People expect the National Archives to have high standards of accuracy and fairness. We urge you to attend to this promptly.

[signed by 15 members of the Nightingale Society]