Friday, November 18, 2011

Queen Mary's Needlework Guild Badge

As those of my readers who are fellow graduate students might know, we are subject to the vicissitudes of dissertation research--the "dissertissitudes," if you will, of writing, research, and editing--and whole weeks are known to pass whilst emails go unanswered and blogs go un-updated, among other things, when the tide turns suddenly and the dissertation takes control of one's life. This past week I have been refining a chapter about the New Biographers, adding details about our friend Geoffrey Malins and his amazing memoir (truly, one of the most fascinating ones I've read) and making other changes. It is a slow battle but I feel confident that the victory flag will be raised (hopefully later today!) and the chapter will be done! Until it must be revised again, that is.

I wanted to post briefly today to add a little to my earlier post about knitting in the Great War. I have recently acquired a darling badge that once belonged to an official in the Queen Mary's Needlework Guild. It looks like this one at the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum:

Queen Mary's Needlework Guild Badge, 1914. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum.

As an avid needlewoman, currently engaged in one of the biggest knitting projects I've ever done, it makes me happy to own a little piece of history that signified another woman's pride and sense of purpose in her needlework and service. I don't have, currently, any details about the original owner of my badge, but I will try to do a bit of research and will share what I gather.

I do know that the badge is one that would have been purchased and worn by an official in the Guild. Regular members could purchase and wear a simpler but still elegant badge. So the woman who first wore the badge I now own would have been a leader of some sort in her community. She would have likely organized other members and solicited contributions from knitters and sewers in the area. No doubt, the beautiful little badge was pinned proudly on her coat or dress, and transformed her outfit into a sort of civilian's uniform. 

The badges were still in use through the 1950s, as far as I've been able to find out. The design changed slightly (the "M.R." initials were altered into an intertwining arrangement) sometime after the Great War, but the Guild's mission remained the same. Today, it is known as the Queen Mother's Clothing Guild.

Well, that is all for this morning. Happy knitting or sewing to my fellow needlepeople and happy writing to my fellow graduate students. Join us again at "Ghosts of 1914," where I shall be posting soon about the Indian homefront in the Great War.

©Fiona Robinson


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