Thursday, 8 October 2015

Mary Seacole's place in the development of modern nursing

Roger Watson, Editor

In the history of modern nursing two figures emerge: Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale.  Florence Nightingale's place in this history is well documented and well known and her legacy, especially in the UK, is obvious.
Mary Seaciole
 However, in recent decades another figure - Mary Seacole - has emerged both as an important figure in the history of nursing and for her work in the Crimea but also because she is championed and has largely been adopted by black nurses the world over.  The campaign to have a Seacole statue erected as a permanent memorial in London would represent one of the first statues of an important black figure in the UK.

Florence Nightingale
However, as she has done before (McDonald 2013), the Canadian Nightingale scholar Lynn McDonald has questioned the place and contribution of Seacole in the pages of Nursing Open in an article titled: 'Mary Seacole and claims of evidence-based practice and global influence.'  McDonald's initial article in JAN drew an indirect response from some European Seacole scholars Staring-Derks et al. (2015) and, essentially, the most recent article by McDonald is a response.

Clearly, I don't expect that many will agree with McDonald's arguments and may question their publication.  In my view her points are well made and supported by credible sources and she has a right - provided that due processes are followed - to be heard.  As with the 2013 in JAN, I would welcome any rejoinders either on this blog or on JAN interactive or in the pages of either journal.  


McDonald L. (2014Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole on nursing and health care Journal of Advanced Nursing 70(6), 14361444. doi: 10.1111/jan.12291

McDonald L (2015) Mary Seacole and claims of evidence-based practice and global influence Nursing Open doi: 10.1002/nop2.32

Staring-Derks C.Staring J. & Anionwu E.N. (2015Mary Seacole: global nurse extraordinaire Journal of Advanced Nursing 71(3), 514525. doi: 10.1111/jan.12559

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