Google dedicated its latest doodle to the contributions made by Mary Jane Seacole – voted the "greatest black Briton" in 2004 – during the Crimean War, on Friday (14 October). She is known for her medical prowess and contributions to wounded servicemen of the Crimean War in 1854-56.
Born to a Scottish father and Jamaican mother as Mary Jane Grant in Kingston, Jamaica, Seacole learnt traditional Caribbean and African herbal remedies from her mother, which she used behind the lines during the war.
She had set up a British Hotel dedicated to the wounded soldiers of the war and described it as "a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers". She died in 1881 and more than a century later in 1991, she was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit.
In her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands published in 1857, she wrote that she started experimenting in medicine on a doll and then on pets. Soon, she started assisting her mother in treating people and wanted to formally serve the war-affected people as a nurse. However, when she was turned away, she opened her own nursing station for soldiers.
She is believed to have become a popular healer among service personnel, who even raised money to help her when she faced destitution post war.
Following her death, she was forgotten for almost a century. By the 21st century, her contributions gained prominence with awards and accolades pouring on her, posthumously. Many statues were erected in the UK and several government buildings and other entities were named after her. She was named the winner of an online poll organised by Patrick Vernon in response to the absence of black people in the top 100 of the BBC's Greatest Briton poll.