Sepia Saturday 103 – a little box but what was in it?

It’s Sepia Saturday time, and for our inspiration and interest Alan has posted a 1961 photo of a nurse getting ready to hop in her car go off on her rounds.  My mum was a nurse in 1961 but I don’t have any pictures of her in uniform.  I do however have some little treasures stashed away…

Hamilton & Inches jewellery box

Mum trained at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh when it was located in the city centre, and was presented with her badge at the end of her training.  It’s enamel on silver and is engraved on the back with her name and her number.

Badge Registered General Nurse Scotland

She was very proud of this badge as it represented many years of hard work leading up to her qualifying.  BUT the Big and Much Coveted One was presented to her after her first year of working as a nurse – her “Pelican”.

Royal Infirmary Edinburgh Pelican Badge

She enjoyed working as a nurse and particularly loved the excitement of the Accident and Emergency Department and her time in Midwifery at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion.

I found a blog by a group collecting oral histories from current and retired Royal Infirmary nurses, inspired by a collection of over 3000 historical nursing badges.  Earlier this year they held a Bring a Badge day where nurses who had trained in Edinburgh travelled back to meet up and show their badges.  I wonder how many of mum’s friends were there.  Reading about the badges I found out that the pelican was chosen to represent the nurses’ hard work and dedication as pelicans were known to feed their young on their own blood when food was scarce.  There’s more to read about Pelican Symbolism.  Somehow, I’ve managed to make the leap from a health visitor to religious symbolism – how did that happen?  🙂

See what everyone else is up to with their diverse and interesting Sepia Saturday posts.


About Jo Graham

Scottish genealogist - this blog is for my own family history and photos
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13 Responses to Sepia Saturday 103 – a little box but what was in it?

  1. Little Nell says:

    I can see why your Mum was proud of those badges. The Pelican one is partcularly attractive.

  2. Hi Jo, what a wonderful and interesting post! I enjoyed learning about your Mum and about the badges. Thanks so much for your visit,

    Kathy M.

  3. Bob Scotney says:

    Interesting to see the Scottish connection with the St Andrews Cross, and the thistle on the midwives’ badge if you follow the nursing badges’ link. I wouldn’t have recognised the pelican from the badge however,

  4. Wendy says:

    I enjoyed reading about the pelican symbolism. I’m learning about lots of symbols from this week’s sepia challenge.

  5. Alan Burnett says:

    There used to be such a pride in the nursing schools people attended but that seems to have been lost these days when training takes place in anonymous colleges and universities. Fascinating background information, great post.

  6. postcardy says:

    The badges look very interesting and attractive, especially the pelican. Now when I think of pelicans, I will think of the young being fed blood.

  7. Chris Halliday says:

    My mother was RIE trained before the war and became a medical ward sister.She was very proud of her Pelican and she used to receive a magazine perhaps yearly of the same name. Consultants were known as ‘Chiefs’ and I could real of the famous names of surgeons and physicians I heard her mention: Dott,Learmonth,Davidson,Bruce,Tulloch. I was born at Simpsons Memorial Pavilion.

    • Jo says:

      I don’t remember Mum mentioning those names, but perhaps your Mum was one of the Ward Sisters twenty years later that my Mum was terrified (and in awe) of! I was born at Simpson’s too, as were all my siblings. The Nursing Board kept writing to her, inviting her back to work after she married Dad, but being a farmer’s wife was a full-time job then. And still is 🙂

  8. Karen S. says:

    Wow something really cool to be proud of for sure!

  9. TICKLEBEAR says:

    MY, these are just precious!!
    Funny, I also worked at the Delivery Room, and then, the E.R.,
    and yes, it makes for plenty of stories, joyful ones and painfully poignant ones too.
    thnx 4 sharing!!

  10. Liz Stratton says:

    It is great to have the badges from your mother’s day in the ER and delivery. I still think those two wards among the most challenging. ER was particularly difficult in the early days of the aids epidemic before new procedures had been established. Interesting post – love learning about the symbols.

  11. Jinksy says:

    As promised, I’m sending a snowflake to all the Fridge Soupers who left a caption, and are prepared to send me their snail-mail address! I’ve had several takers, but I’ve still some flakes left, if you want to join the happy band! LOL ♥

  12. Julie says:

    Interesting post. Thanks for posting the links and about the research project.

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