Given recent events, I'd like to dedicate this Inspirational Women Wednesday* post to our good friends, nurses, Ruth, Joy, and, newly qualified, Kaylee as well as all the hospital staff involved in Husband dearest's care. Wonderful dedicated people who work too many hours for too little pay - I thank you all.
1805 - 1881.
A Jamaican born nurse, Mary, also known as Mother Seacole, was probably best known for her work during the CRIMEAN WAR where, taught herbal medicine as a child by her mother, she set up and ran boarding houses, treating the sick.
Confident in her knowledge of tropical medicine and after hearing about the poor medical conditions of wounded soldiers, Mary travelled to London to volunteer as a nurse asking to be sent to the Crimea as a army assistant - a request that was turned down mainly due to the prejudice against women's involvement in the medical profession at that time.
However, some time later, the British Government having decided to send women to the affected area after all, Mary was not included in the 38 nurses chosen and instead, borrowing money, she travelled the 4000 mile journey by herself, treating the battle field wounded of both sides often whilst under fire.
As equally dedicated as her English counterpart, The Lady With The Lamp, FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE, Mary, at the end of the conflict, (unlike Florence) found herself stranded and destitute, only being 'saved' from adversity by friends who she had nursed who held a benefit concert in appreciation of all her work.
Honoured in her lifetime but afterwards largely forgotten for almost a century, it is only recently that Mary has, once again, been recognised for her bravery and medical skills and as "a woman who succeeded despite the racial prejudice of Victorian society".
Her autobiography (which I read some time ago), WONDERFUL ADVENTURES OF MRS SEACOLE IN MANY LANDS is a vivid account of her experiences (I can vouch for this) and is one of the first autobiographies to be written by woman of mixed race.
Want to read more about Mary? Click HERE.
* Inspirational Women Wednesday was started by Aine over at THE EVOLVING SPIRIT who, due to her her wonderfully inspiring IWW posts, I decided to join.
Whilst researching Mary Seacole, I came across this extraordinary site that detailed the duties of a floor nurse in 1887 which I thought might be of some interest - I know I found it fascinating.
- Daily sweep and mop the floors of your ward, dust the patient's furniture and window sills.
- Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing in a scuttle of coal for the day's business.
- Light is important to observe the patient's condition. Therefore, each day fill kerosene lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks. Wash the windows once a week.
- The nurse's notes are important in aiding the physician's work. Make your pens carefully; you may whittle nibs to your individual taste.
- Each nurse on day duty will report every day at 7 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m. except on the Sabbath on which day you will be off from 12 noon to 2 p.m.
- Graduate nurses in good standing with the director of nurses will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if you go regularly to church.
- Each nurse should lay aside from each pay day a goodly sum of her earnings for her benefits during her declining years so that she will not become a burden. For example, if you earn $30 a month you should set aside $15.
- Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop, or frequents dance halls will give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions and integrity.
- The nurse who performs her labors and serves her patients and doctors without fault for five years will be given an increase of five cents a day, providing there are no hospital debts outstanding.