Mrs Janice Murray, Director
National Army Museum
Royal Hospital Road
London SW3 4HT
September 10, 2012
Dear Mrs Murray
We are pleased to see that several of the errors on the National Army Museum’s website on Mary Seacole have been removed, a good step, for which our thanks, but we must note that serious mistakes remain. We suggest some alternative wordings:
Place of birth: Kingston, Jamaica (why not give her city and country of birth, instead of “West Indies”?)
I learned to be a “doctress” or herbalist from my mother and provided remedies to many people, in Jamaica, Panama and then at the Crimean War.
Omit “nursed thousands through the cholera and yellow fever epidemics.” Not true, she never claimed it (see her Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands).
Omit the sentence “four out of five men would die not in battle but of disease,” for four out of five men did not die, but roughly one out of five, and of these roughly four out of five died from disease, but Seacole could not have known that at the time, as the data were not published until much later. She went to the war out of a sense of patriotism, as she explained in her book. (See www.maryseacole.info/ for page numbers and quotations)
A group of women led by Florence Nightingale (why be coy?)
When I could not join the official team of nurses I went anyway. My business partner and I started a restaurant and store for officers near Balaclava. I also helped ordinary soldiers who came to me for remedies.
Omit the last section. She and her business partner had laid in expensive stores, and of course their huts could not be sold. The fund that paid for her support got its donations from officers, not ordinary soldiers.
The troops called me “Mother Seacole.” Many came to a large festival in my honour at Surrey Gardens in the summer of 1857, It was supposed to make enough money to help me, but did not. I went back to Jamaica for awhile, then returned to London. Some officers kindly started a fund to support me in my old age.
For information on Seacole see: www.maryseacole.info/
for Nightingale: www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn
A reply would be appreciated: email@example.com