Monday, November 7, 2011


 Hey everyone, I recently got this old nurse uniform from an estate and desperately need help dating it... I am so stumped! The woman I got it from didn't know anything about it and guessed it dated WWI. From the seaming (especially the back bodice seams & very bunched gathering at waist), the tiny buttons, the high neck, and the length I would say the same - 1910s. However, I can't find an exact match anywhere online or in old red cross photos, etc. The hat it comes with looks more like the WWII style; it isn't as nunnish (yes I made that word up) as the WWI hats seem to have been. And the patch style looks just like the nurses aide patches from WWII. I know there were Red Cross nurses aides during WWI too and perhaps they used the same patch (I just couldn't find any photos). Also I am stumped by the breast pocket, which looks so 30s to me... can anyone help?

Photos below are WWI era. They seem to match, kind of, but not exactly...

Thank you for any help!!!!!!


  1. My guess is that this is definitely earlier than WWI. The material and cuff design is identical to the photos (which are a terrific resource!). The uniforms in the photos are clearly from the late 1910s, though. The collar is a typical angled/flaring style, the bodice blouses in front, and the skirt is flat in front and looks gored all around. Your dress has a high collar, very typical of the 1890s. It also has more buttons and does not look bloused. And the skirt looks to be straight panels all around, gathered with what looks like cartridge pleating or shirring in the back. There is also piping in the waist seam, something that was typical from the 1840s onward. That's a pretty old technique.

    It's remotely possible the cap doesn't go with the dress.

    Have you found any general info about Red Cross nurses? Were they only mobilized during wartime, or were they always around? If wartime, the Spanish-American War is possible.

  2. THANK YOU so much for your input!!! This is SO helpful. Hmm.. I am thinking maybe you are right that the hat may not go with the dress... it is the very same color but the blue fabric is slightly heavier than used for the dress. Also the collar and cuffs have the name of the previous owner inside, but the hat does not. In the collar is it hand written but in the cuffs there is a name tag with machine-embroidered last name on it..
    If the hat does not go with the dress after all, then I'm thinking maybe it isn't even a Red Cross uniform? Maybe another type of nurse or something... I do think now it is definitely pre WWI.

    Apparently the Red Cross was established 1881 and the Red Cross Nursing Service was organized 1910..

  3. What I know about this dress... WOW? Aaaaand.... WOW?!?!?! Good luck with your research!