Friday, December 2, 2011

Sepia Saturday: A Woman in Uniform

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week the Sepia Saturday prompt is a photo of a nurse in uniform standing beside an official car marked “Health – Nursing” parked on a city street.  Since I have no nurses in my family, my thoughts went to uniforms and I thought about my maternal grandmother, Lucille Rucker Davis.  She was not a nurse, but her jobs always required a uniform. 

As a kid growing up, I was used to seeing her in the crisp white button-front uniform of a grocery store clerk at Colonial Store.

My grandmother is the last one on the middle row.
Wonder what's in the envelope?  A bonus?

Doesn’t that white uniform say, “Clean.  Professional.  At your service”?

But when I saw this next picture I was really confused.

My grandmother is the first woman kneeling on the front row.

The back of the picture gives the date and names of all the women pictured.  I knew my grandmother lived in Shenandoah, Virginia, at the time the picture was taken, but I didn’t know she had a job that required a uniform.   The building looks like a school – was she a cafeteria worker?  No.  It turns out, this is the knitting mill.  Fancy that – uniforms for factory workers.    

I’ve noticed that in all three photos, women’s uniforms are basic shirt-waist dresses that button in the front.  No commentary -- Just an observation.  


  1. Wendy, this was an interesting post - uniformly so :)

    I scrolled down to the one about your Mother and the tinsel - what a lovely memory. I hope other Sepia Saturdayers visit that page too. Hint!

  2. Uniforms for factory workers were/are not that uncommon in the UK . It's just that they don't look as neat or crisp as these.

  3. Hi Wendy,

    This is so neat to see your Grandma at work ... as are all of your posts on this page (loved seeing you play the piano!).

    If they are comfortable, I guess that uniforms are very practical. I used to wear them for restaurant work.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to see me,

    Kathy M.

  4. I never was really comfortable wearing that kind of dress. The uniform for most of the workers at my grocery store is a golf type shirt. they change the colors periodically. I think those that work with food (like butchers) still wear white.

  5. I guess the uniforms saved you messing up your "good" clothes at work, and they do make everyone look neat and professional :-) Jo

  6. They look almost as if they could be working in the food industry or somewhere they had to keep very clean.

  7. An excellent take on the theme : and some wonderful images. I love this type of group image - you can spend ages looking at all the faces, all the expressions, all the life that is going on there.

  8. What a great take on the theme. It is surprising how much more 'uniform' things were in days gone by. Even when there wasn't a uniform - in early days - navy blue suit, white shirt, black pumps. It was an unofficial uniform!

  9. Uniforms made everyone the same, no distinction, and the employer didn't have to deal with the fashion flair of some. It's kind of nice of not having to think of what you're going to wear each day. Designers got involved in the business back in the 1970s, bringing in a dose of pretty in a boring industry.