At school I was never taught about Mother Seacole. I had never even heard of her until my teens when my mother, a primary school teacher, and I were watching a BBC programme about her. She told me that she always taught her classes about Mary Seacole during history lessons and we discussed how children could learn so much from her. About history, societal attitudes, the power of self belief and the ability to break down boundaries.
I think she always assumed I had already been taught about this wonderful “yellow woman” (as Seacole described herself). But my school had, like a true reflection of British culture during the late 80s and 90s, ignored and shunned her. I had learned about Florence Nightingale instead.
So, from the moment of watching that programme, which had held me in such rapt attention and enraged me so much on Seacole’s behalf (not that such an independent and able woman would have needed my indignation), I was determined to find out more about Mother S.
Today I am going to begin reading Seacole’s autobiography again. This time I am going to set aside my own emotions and try and analyse it in terms of the rehabilitation processes she employed. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to look at her techniques in regards to nursing, but I am looking at it from a slightly different angle. I want to look at it in terms of rehabilitation and occupational therapy, and see what, if anything, can be extrapolated to help me understand how therapy for soldiers specifically has developed. For Seacole did not just have to deal with the physical complaints of war, or the dreaded cholera, but the emotional scars too. At a time when perhaps they were not recognised to the extent they are today (and even now it is debatable that they are given their rightful due in terms of prioritising therapy).
I feel I may update this post when I have enough to document what I find, but for now I look forward to rereading Mary Seacole in her own words.
A copy of her autobiography can be found online:
Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands