Skip to comments.Help in identification of uniform requested
Posted on 10/18/2012 1:08:28 PM PDT by My hearts in London - Everett
Are there any FReepers who could help in the identification of this uniform that my grandmother is wearing? She was born in 1905 in Maine and I'm told she's 14 in this picture.
Navel looking clothing was the style.
The arm patch is the style of a Navy Chief’s chevron. Single star would be a Senior Chief.
Was there something like the “sea scouts” during World War I? She was a little young to be a chief petty officer in the Navy. BTW, the quality of the old black and white portraits are great.
Might not be her uniform (especially if she’s 14 and given the insignia), she might have had somebody special in the Navy (this was during World War I given the dates you posted) and took a picture wearing his shirt for him.
Compare w WWI Navy Nurse uniform.
I would agree. Naval style tops and skirts was a girl’s style in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Must have been a belly button down.
My mother said she did sewing in the WPA, but I can’t find any pics anywhere that show that WPA workers had ‘uniforms’. If the style was popular back then, I suppose it could be a hand-me-down or charity because I believe they were very poor.
Check this link out.
I agree. She’s too young to be a CPO. According to the OP, this was 1918-1920, so its probably just a fashion that looks like a military uniform. She wouldn’t have been a Sea Scout, if they even existed then.
Google for images of "WWI Navy Nurse uniform".
I searched around, and found that insignia with “Sea Cadet Chief Petty Officer”.
I researched to see if it might be an early Girl Scout uniform, but I don’t think so. As you can see the collar is rounded as it goes over the shoulder unlike the Girl Scout uniform or a Sailor’s uniform. It’s hard to tell from the picture what color the cloth is. I don’t see any buttons down the front and the seam/trim across the front is different.
Maybe so, But I sure don't see her navel.
(And I've done my share of navel gazing)...
This would have been at least 10 years before the WPA.
Anoreth the time traveler?
Yes, I know, but I can’t tell my mother anything. I need proof. lol
Two things regarding that interpretation:
1. The stars on senior and master chiefs' insignias are located above the crow. (The area between the rocker and top chevron is used for the rating designator.)
2. The senior and master chief ranks didn't come into existence until 1958.
Search this web site for the insignia she has on her sleeve:
She would have needed to have served a minimum of 2 years 9 months to earn that rank, according to Born to Conserve’s link. That’s a bit much for a 14 year old.
OTOH, I can easily see her having the portrait taken to honor some young swain by proudly wearing his uniform for the sitting.
Young girls being what they are, and young sailors being what they are.
Especially during war time...
The insignias do seem to match up.
The style of blouse freepers say was popular in the early part of the 20th century was the “middie” blouse (maybe from midshipman?) It was white with a blue or black tie. They are actually still in style.
Thanks. I’m no expert, I just spent some time in Uncle Sam’s canoe club.
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Contact the WWI Museum in Kansas City. It’s not a military uniform but it could be an auxiliary of some sort or a girls group to support the war effort. They have rearchers and volunteers who are experts and great archives. It’s the only museum dedicated to WWI in the country. They just did a major overhaul and expansion. If you’re in the area its really worth visiting. But you could probably email the picture and question. Go to their website.
“My mother said she did sewing in the WPA, but I cant find any pics anywhere that show that WPA workers had uniforms. If the style was popular back then, I suppose it could be a hand-me-down or charity because I believe they were very poor.”
I did extensive genealogy and history research awhile back. I was surprised and disappointed how much my Mom got wrong, or knew nothing about.
BTW is her surname “Mathes,” in Maine?
Have u tried making your inquiry on ancestry.com?
If your timeline is accurate and she was 14 in that photo then that would put it at around 1919 right in the middle of the Spanish Flu Pandemic. There was a critical shortage of nurses and volunteers to give aid to the sick and she may have been involved somehow. I couldn’t find any uniform photo’s
That's what another poster mentioned, but as far as I know, Navy uniforms even back then did not have a rounded placket.
No particular expertise claimed on my part, I was fairly certain that CPO was the highest enlisted rank until well after WWII. (I'm a former member of the canoe club myself, 1966-1975.)
I just posted this picture to my tree and asked if anyone could identify what she is wearing.
One more suggestion you can go to the Smithsonian On-line and ask a librarian. There is a link for that.
Thank you for your idea. :~)
The Senior and Master Chief rates were added much later than that date, just a few years before I enlisted (1961). And the star(s) go above the eagle. The star in this case is in the place where the rating badge would be (crossed anchors = boatswain's mate, gear = engineman, crossed cannons - gunner's mate, etc.). It may be decoration.
It’s a middy blouse, very popular in the late 19th century up until the 1920s.
Going back through some old family photos I found one of my mother around the same age and same time wearing a similar “uniform”, including the rank insignia. I know she was never in the military or scouts or any other such organization.
I think it was just a fashion back then, nothing more.
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