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MARY JANE SEACOLE

MARY JANE SEACOLE was born Mary Jane Grant in Kingston, Jamaica, the daughter of a Scottish officer and a free Jamaican Creole woman. Seacole's mother was a "doctress", a healer who used traditional Caribbean and African herbal remedies. Learning from her mother, she honed her nursing skills and later assisted her in a local British-run hospital. She travelled all over the Caribbean and into the States, nursing wherever she was needed. She later returned to Jamaica to organize a mostly Jamaican nursing service.

During the Crimean war, she personally paid for her own trip there after running into prejudices that did not permit her a post because she was a woman. She set up and operated boarding houses there to assist in her desire to treat the sick. She distinguished herself treating battlefield wounded, often nursing wounded soldiers from both sides while under fire. When the conflict ended in 1856 she found herself stranded and almost destitute, and was only saved from adversity by friends from the Crimean War who organized a benefit concert. In later years, she expressed a desire to work in India after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. `Seacole was honored in her lifetime, alongside Florence Nightingale, but after her death she was forgotten for almost a century. Today, she is noted for her bravery and medical skills and as "a woman who succeeded despite the racial prejudice of influential sections of Victorian society"