Mary Jane Seacole (1805-1881) was a British-Jamaican healer, nurse and business-woman. Daughter of a black mother and a white Scottish father she was born as a “free-person” at a time when many black people in the Caribbean were forced to slavery. She first learned to use Jamaican traditional medicine from her mother, who ran a lodging house. She travelled widely and, in England, she complemented her skills of Caribbean healing techniques with the knowledge of European medicine.

During the Crimean War she tried to volunteer as a nurse but was rejected. She then funded her own trip to Crimea where she looked after and nursed wounded soldiers. Some have argued that Seacole was the first nurse practitioner.

Artists: Deborah Miles-Williams

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Credit: Open Past & Deborah Miles-Williams

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