The life of Mary Seacole

The life of Mary Seacole is explored in three video episodes - beginning with Mary's arduous journey to the Crimea, her actions during the Crimean War and what happened to her after the war had ended.

1. Journey to the Crimea

Synopsis:

Mary tells of her early life in Jamaica, and how her mother, a taught her all her healing skills.

In 1854, when war broke out in the Crimea, Mary travelled to England to volunteer her services to Florence Nightingale - who was setting up a hospital - and encountered prejudice on her journey.

When she applied to the War Department in London to join Florence Nightingale as a nurse, she was turned away on the grounds that ‘no more nurses were needed’, although Mary was under no illusion that she was being rejected because of her colour.

So Mary decided to travel to the Crimea and build her own ‘hospital’.

Click here for a transcript of the episode (pdf).

2. The Crimean War

Synopsis:

Mary builds the ‘British Hotel’, which is closer to the battlefield than Florence Nightingale’s hospital (which was actually in Scutari - in the city now called Istanbul).

One day in 1856 a journalist called William Howard Russell from The Times newspaper arrives at the British Hotel, wanting to write an article about Mary. Rather grudgingly Mary agrees, and he discovers how well-loved Mary is by the soldiers - they call her ‘Mother Seacole’ - and how she puts aside fears for her own safety in order to treat wounded soldiers from both sides of the conflict on the battlefield.

When Sebastopol falls the British, Mary marches into the city with the troops and is cheered by soldiers lining the road.

Click here for a transcript of the episode (pdf).

3. After the War was over

Synopsis:

Back in London, Mary and Sally, her faithful maid, are very poor. Mary has debts that she can't pay and she can't afford to keep Sally on. Sally is devastated and angry that everyone seems to have forgotten how much Mary had done during the war.

Then, fortuitously, they receive a surprise visit from William Howard Russell, the journalist who had written about Mary during the Crimean War. When he hears about Mary’s plight, he is determined to remind the British people of her work in the Crimea. He writes a story in his newspaper and asks his friends to raise money to help her.

Finally there is a huge party to honour Mary and celebrate her work - with a message of congratulation from Queen Victoria.

Click here for a transcript of the episode (pdf).

Resources

Download Teacher's Notes (pdf)
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1. Journey to the Crimea - script to download / print (pdf)
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2.  The Crimean War - script to download / print (pdf)
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3.  After the War was over - script to download / print (pdf)
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Sequencing activity (pdf)
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Outline drawing (pdf)
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Outline drawing (pdf)
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