What sort of uniform is this woman wearing?
Just a quick post, as I’m feeling blogging withdrawal on account of MASSIVE quantity of copy-editing needing done, deadline looming, and exciting visit from my dad coming up this weekend. I am working on a proper post, but for now, I genuinely do want to work out who this woman is (she’s not related to me). I’d really appreciate any ideas about her uniform.
I’ve been thinking some sort of student — maybe a nurse? It’s the book that gives me that idea. I’m really at sea, though.
As you can see, the photo was taken in Edinburgh in 1913, and there’s an address on the back: 29 Leamington Terrace (see below for reverse image). Now that the 1911 Census for Scotland has been released I can follow this up, but I think I need to do it in person at the Scotland’s People centre if I want to search by address without a name.
Hope someone can help! Now, back to the salt mines.
UPDATE: Kind-hearted @GenealogyGirl on Twitter (Kirsty), who does this kind of thing for a living, has taken the time to help me by pointing out that the Edinburgh Post Office Directories are online now, freely available at the National Library of Scotland site here. She even looked up 29 Leamington Terrace, and found that in 1911/12 it was the home of one Robert Gelletly, General Draper. Means I can look up the census online later (if I EVER get any work done this morning <slaps self>); I will update again. Meanwhile, thanks to Kirsty for loads of useful information. If you’re on Twitter, follow her!
FURTHER UPDATE (24 May): Just wanted to finish this off. I think, based on the pages linked to by Fiona in comments made below, that it’s quite likely the woman pictured here is in fact a general servant or housemaid. Her brooch and her book still seem to set her apart a little, but they don’t tell me anything concrete; and in other respects her uniform is very similar to those of the maids pictured in the links.
Another good suggestion, nanny or children’s nurse, initially struck me as quite likely; but now that I’ve looked up the 1911 census return for the Gelletly household it seems less so. Robert and his wife Isabella – who perhaps signed the card? – were in middle age, and their two children were grown. Their son lived with them, and they had one servant, 24-year-old Mary Fairley. I can’t see any indication that young children were part of the household, although of course a lot can change in two years. Nor can I assume Mary Fairley would still have worked there in 1913; so although this could be her, there’s no particular reason to believe it is.
The background to the whole question of the mystery servant is that she came to me in a large box of other, related photos, many of whom I have identified as members of an extended family and their friends and acquaintances. I’ve been hoping that if I could find out anything at all specific about this woman, it might help me to fit her into the jigsaw puzzle. Unfortunately the surnames Gelletly, Fairley and Gray (maiden name of Mrs Gelletly) don’t show up in the rest of the group, so any hope of a lead from the census is gone, and it seems that the uniform won’t narrow things down much either. I’ll leave it there for now, as I have bigger priorities, but suggestions for further sleuthing are always welcome.