To Sigma Theta Tau International

President, CEO, Sigma Theta Tau International
27 October 2016

Dear Drs Catrambone and Thompson

It is troubling to see misinformation on nursing history published by a press under your esteemed name. We refer to Eisler and Potter’s Transforming Interprofessional Partnerships: A New Framework for Nursing and Partnership-Based Health Care, 2014.

Seacole precedes Nightingale in coverage (pp 106-8), and the two are together are called “early nurses.” The Seacole section begins with a quotation from Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses complimenting Seacole, although it does not quote his calling Nightingale a “whore” in Grimus: a Novel. How did he get to be an expert on the Crimean War or nursing history?

Eisler and Potter’s topology, Partnership Principle Illustrated, makes Seacole into a partner of Nightingale — although she was a businesswoman and the two met for only about 5 minutes and never discussed nursing!

Seacole is said to have promoted a “democratic and economically equitable structure of linking and hierarchies of actualization in both family and state, conflict creatively used to arrive at solutions.” Any evidence for this claim? We know of none.

The pair are called “early nurses” who “considered practice and listening to narratives to be important parts of their care.”

Seacole’s mother is incorrectly credited with managing a boarding house for “disabled British soldiers” (p 106) when she ran a small hotel for British officers. She combined “care and cure” in her “healing ministry,” a strange conclusion given that she added lead and mercury to her cholera remedy to make it more effective, and admitted “lamentable blunders” (WA p 31). Any evidence that dehydrating.

Seacole is next said to have treated British soldiers in Panama for dysentery and cholera, but the British Army was not there – her customers and patients were men on their way to the California Gold Rush. Any evidence that her “care and cure,” which entailed dehydrating bowel patients, actually cures? The effective treatment is oral rehydration therapy, the opposite of using emetics, purging from the bowels and blistering fo sweat the patient, as Seacole did.

Seacole is said, when she read newspaper reports “on the terrible conditions and high mortality rate of British soldiers fighting in the Crimea War, she immediately left for London” (p 107). A reference is given to her book, but no page number, perhaps because nowhere does such a statement appear. Rather, she acknowledged arriving in London, shortly after the first battle (September 20), or before any account of high mortality could have appeared.

She is said to have “borrowed money” to get there (p 107), although her own account states that she had capital acquired from her previous business (Wonderful Adventures, p 80). Eisler and Potter’s bizarre account has Seacole deciding to “move to the Crimean peninsula near Sebastopol” after she found out that the Barrack Hospital was in Turkey. But Seacole knew this all along; when she met Nightingale at the hospital, her passage was booked to the Crimea and she only wanted a bed for the night (WA, p 91).

Unless you can provide evidence to support the many unfounded claims made in this chapter, it should be retracted.

[ signed by 17 members of the Nightingale Society ]