20th Century, Miscellenia

A pair of picture hats

Yesterday’s post on the history of picture hats reminded Lynne of two of her family photographs, and she has kindly let me show them to you.

Here are Lynne’s Great Aunt Alice and Alice’s sister, her Grandmother Florence.  Florence immigrated to NZ before WWI as a children’s nursemaid.

Based on advertisements I have seen, and numerous examples of women who came to NZ via this route, there was considerable demand for domestic help, and nursemaids and governesses in particular, in pre-WWI NZ.   It was an easy way for women without a lot of means to have their passage paid, but most quickly married or moved on to other positions once they arrived.  Early 20th century NZ society was much more democratic than its British counterpart, and the strict class system that characterised Britain did not hold here.

But that’s an aside.  Today we are focusing on Alice and Florence.  I already love this pictures, first because they symbolise the sharing and knowledge that the blog world has fostered, and second, because of the similarities and differences of the two sisters.  They remind me of me and my sisters: how we share mannerisms and characteristics, but have our own distinct personalities.

Alice Truman in Devon, England

Florence Mary Truman in Wanaka, New Zealand

I wonder what Alice and Florence were like?

In the photos Alice seems more outgoing: her picture hat is flamboyant, and her pose, legs apart, torso thrust foward, gaze directed straight at the camera, exudes confidence.  In contrast Florence seems reserved: her clothes are beautifully cut but subdued, her picture hat large but practical, and she looks away from the camera.  And yet Florence was the one who adventured, who risked it all and came to NZ.

And I guess my sisters and I are.  I look braver, more outgoing, than the Naiad, but for all her reserve, she faces the world with more courage.

So thank you Lynne, for sharing a bit of your family with me, and with the rest of us.  They are beautiful images, of two beautiful women, in more ways than one.


  1. Darling one, how wise you are. I feel just the same way about my sister, and I love how we are alike yet different. Even our wedding dresses were “sisters”, with common decorative elements that we both love, but colour and cut differences that express our differences.
    I love Alice’s costume, every element of Edwardian tailoring that I love is present in it. The long tailored jacket, the A line skirt with buttons, delicious. Thank you Lynne for giving us all a glimpse into your past. 🙂

  2. Lynne says

    Thank you for this beautiful post, Leimomi! It brings a happy tear to my eye to see these photos in your blog. I wonder what Alice and Florence would have thought, if anyone had told them that one day the whole world would be able to see their photos? If they choose to look, of course. My great pleasure to share!

  3. Lynne says

    I always wondered what made Florence Mary emigrate. Such an enormous step, alone, and she never saw any of her family again. My mother had the feeling there could have been a Disappointment with a man, but she wasn’t sure.

    Florence Mary’s three brothers were all killed in WWI. Unbelievable. Devastating for their family. I have studio photos of them, too – three handsome young men in uniform.

    Florence Mary, I was told, (she died before I was born) was a clever and funny woman, a much loved mother of four children. She died of a heart-attack, in her late fifties, while hanging out the washing. Doesn’t seem possible, when you look at the photo, does it? Her, so young and sweet, clutching her gloves like a good woman.

Comments are closed.