Carsphairn Archive

Sewing Teacher

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Miss McMillan, the Sewing Mistress

Sewing Classes

In the nineteenth century each community had dressmakers, seamstresses, sewers, dressmakers' apprentices and sewing teachers.

Jane C McMillan was one of these ladies. In 1881 the census notes her occupation as a dressmaker and in 1891 as a sewing mistress.

From the school log book it can be seen that she was the school sewing mistress from 1881 until 1903 and the following extracts from the book mention the sewing classes which played an important part in the school curriculum.

The teachers were the Head teacher and the sewing mistress. It is not clear how often the classes were held but they did take place in Miss McMillan's home which was in the village, a house now known as The Cottage.

Extracts from the School Log Book
January 18th 1893
The attendance (average) in this week 29.7. By instruction of Dr McLachlan the School for Sewing is to be closed for a time for there is at present in the same house a suspected case of scarletina.
May 18th 1900
Large revising lessons in Geo. and History given during week: very little time left for sewing to girl in Merit Certif owing to time being taken up with Latin & French.
Apr 20th 1900
On Monday Sewing was resumed in Room rented by School Board. It had been held for three weeks in Session House of U.P. Church owing to measles being in house rented and Sewing Teacher nursing the sick one: niece of Sewing Teacher carried on the sewing for her. All was done with the unanimous concurrence of the School Board.
Sept 19th 1902
The attendance still down, owing to the illness amongst the children. The average for the week is B 13.4 + G 17.7 + = 31.1.
There was no sewing lesson given on Friday. A travelling Circus was passing through the village and as it stopped for about an hour the children were allowed out to see the elephants, horses etc.
Sept 7th 1904
(4) Sewing is taught in a private house where neither accommodation nor lighting seems to be efficient. The room is about 15ft by 11ft but the cubic air space is very small. The roof is a sloping one;the side walls are only about 3ft high: the ceiling is only some 7ft high at its greatest height, and that only for a width of about 2ft 8in. The room is lighted by three skylight windows.
Oct 14th 1904
Two pupils from Glenhead absent all week. Had a letter from their father making complaint that his girl was not getting due attention at the Sewing lesson, and that he was resolved not to send her back unless he was satisfied with regard to Sewing.
June 12th 1905 - H.M. Inspector's Report
The staff of this school has been strengthened during the session and the efficiency has been correspondingly increased.
The junior classes make in general a very good appearance and show results of very skilful and earnest teaching. In the senior section the attainments of the pupils are highly satisfactory. Late Arithmetic and Spelling are excellent, Composition and sum setting are very good and class subjects have been taught with skill and intelligence. Oral composition in III and IV might however be further developed and Mental Arithmetic an V and VI is susceptible ofimprovement. Songs are tunefully rendered, Drawing receives careful attention and Sewing is very good.
June 20th 1907 - H. M. Inspector's Report.
This school is very zealously and intelligently conducted; and its general condition is highly satisfactory. The pupils are bright, polite, intelligent and very frankly responsive. The appearance ... word of praise. Very successful instruction has been given in Needlework and the more recreative branches.
The addition of a very serviceable piano to the school equipment shows that the Board continue to pursue an enlightened policy and the playground it is understood will be improved at an early date.
Staff: James Wilson (Certificated), Eliza Rennie (Certificated), Annie Lindsay (Art 19D (a)), Charles Stewart (Cl).