The Nursing Standard is a major source of misinformation on Seacole. Its record on Nightingale is simply dismal–since taking on the Seacole campaign, work on Nightingale’s contribution to nursing simply does not get covered. Seacole and the statue campaign are the subject of some 70 articles, discussed in more detail in the article following.
Dr Elizabeth Anionwu, CBE, emeritus professor and vice chair of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, is the source of misinformation on both Seacole and Nightingale, particularly when she compares their work. Her article “What can Florence and Mary teach us about nursing today?” in Nursing Standard, states that the contribution of Seacole to the nursing profession was equal to that of Nightingale’s, although she gave no supporting evidence for this claim (see Doctress and Nurse for Seacole’s own statement of her work).
Nightingale’s contribution to nursing takes volumes to report (see The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, with a chronology in Extending Nursing 13:12-22). A very brief list of her work is given here, for which no comparable contribution by Seacole is known (Seacole did contribute generously as a volunteer in the Crimean War, but not as a nurse).
1854-56 Direction of first team of women nurses at a British Army war hospital, in the Crimean War.
1859 Publication of Notes On Hospitals (second edition), with beginning attention to occupational health and safety of nurses.
1860 Publication of Notes on Nursing and the opening of the Nightingale School at St Thomas’ Hospital, the first secular nurse training school in the world. The school soon became a centre for training nurses and matrons from elsewhere in London, Britain, and around the world. Nightingale’s mentoring of nursing leaders continued to the end of her working life.
1861 Beginning of nursing reforms in Liverpool with William Rathbone.
1865 Beginning of trained nursing in a workhouse infirmary, at Liverpool, hence the beginning of the reform of these the worst hospitals in Britain. Trained nursing was gradually brought into the workhouse infirmaries at Highgate, St Marylebone, Belfast and Birmingham, and they started training schools. First contact on introducing trained nursing to Sweden.
1867 Publication of brief on nursing in workhouse infirmaires.
1868 Trained nursing began in Australia, with a matron and nurses Nightingale sent; first contact on introducing trained nursing into German hospitals.
1872 Beginning of trained nursing at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, at which a training school was established, from which nursing spread to many parts of Scotland; first contacts on introducing trained nursing to Belfast; beginning contact with Americans on the introduction of trained nursing; Nightingale’s first “Address to Nurses,” given at St Thomas’ Hospital, continued to the 14th in 1900.
1873 Beginning of academic program at St Thomas’ Hospital, with a tutor (“home sister”) and instruction by medical doctors.
1874 Beginning work on district work through the Metropolitan and National Nursing Association.
1875 Trained nursing began at the Montreal General Hospital, with a matron and nurses sent by Nightingale; beginning work on bringing in trained nursing in Dublin.
1876 Publication of “Training Nurses for the Sick Poor”
1883 Publication of articles on nursing and nurse training in Quain’s Dictionary of Medicine.
1887: First work on the introduction of trained nursing into Finland.
1890: Publication of “Introduction to the History of Nursing in the Homes of the Poor,” on district nursing.
1893: Paper “Sick Nursing and Health Nursing” at the Chicago Exhibition.
1894: Publication of “Rural Hygiene” on health promotion.
1898 Work on starting district nursing in Canada; last recorded visits of ward sisters on nursing issues
1908 Nightingale sends last greetings to nurses.
Seacole did not do any work comparable to this, contrary to Anionwu’s claim, and that of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust that Seacole was a “heroine” who “gave her life’s work in support” of the early development of the nursing profession (“Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Update”).
Nightingale’s work in founding nursing and guiding its development for decades is reported in The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale.