Revisiting Those Who Served in the Crimean War

Who was Mary Seacole?

Contributed by Student Affairs Officer Steven Johnson

Image courtesy of Elisabeth Fall

This Friday, October 21, marks the 161st anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s departure with 38 other volunteer nurses to serve in Crimea. Her heroic work in pioneering modern nursing is well known and celebrated. Mary Seacole, on the other hand, is less likely to spark the same recognition.

The Jamaican-born woman also applied to the War Office at the start of the Crimean War, but was turned away because of her race. She then applied for sponsorship to travel on her own, but was again declined. Undeterred, she used her own resources to travel to Crimea and open the British Hotel, where she fed and housed sick and wounded soldiers, using medicine that she learned from her mother and the skills she had honed treating sufferers of cholera in Jamaica and Panama. Learn more.