Figure 1.-- HBC reader has provided information about a very interesting book of letters written by Nellie R. Campbell from Maine. She married a man called George Campbell and moved to the prairies of Canada, living on a farm in Saskatchewan near Saskatoon where she also taught in a rural grade school. They adopted Emerson in November, 1925. He was about 3 years old.

Emerson Albin Smith (Canada, 1920s)

A HBC reader has provided information about a very interesting book of letters written by Nellie R. Campbell from Maine. She married a man called George Campbell and moved to the prairies of Canada, living on a farm in Saskatchewan near Saskatoon where she also taught in a rural grade school. She wrote a very informative series of letters from Saskatchewan to her relatives in New England, extending over the period 1920 to 1944. These have been published in a book entitled Loving Yours, Nellie: Letters Home and Published Articles. Nellie and George adopted an orphan boy in the mid-1920s named Emerson Albin Smith and reared and educated him. Notice that Emersob here wears a button-on suit with a heavy woolen blouse with matching collar and cuffs and large white buttons. His knee pants are quite long. He wears heavy brown woolen long stockings and high-top shoes. His clothes seem to be typical of Canadian children living on the prairies in the 1920s. Nellie also wrote brief articles for local magazines and other publications on home-making. In one of these articles she discusses the endless mending she had to do and offers tips for mothers mending home-made underwaists for boys and girls.

Parents

A HBC reader has provided information about a very interesting book of letters written by Nellie R. Campbell from Maine. She married a man named George Campbell.

Saskatchewan

The Campbells moved to the prairies of Canada, living on a farm in Saskatchewan near Saskatoon where she also taught in a rural grade school.

Letters

Nellie wrote a very informative series of letters from Saskatchewan to her relatives in New England, extending over the period 1920 to 1944. These have been published in a book entitled Lovingly Yours, Nellie: Letters Home and Published Articles edited by Sandra Hyslop and Pat Klassen (Victoria, B.C.: Trafford, 2004).

Emerson

Nellie and George adopted an orphan boy in the mid-1920s named Emerson Albin Smith and reared and educated him. I think they adopted boy Emerson kept his original name (Smith) even though he was only 3 or so when he was adopted by the Campbells.

Emerson's Clothing

Notice that Emersob here wears a button-on suit with a heavy woolen blouse with matching collar and cuffs and large white buttons. His knee pants are quite long. He wears heavy brown woolen long stockings and high-top shoes. His clothes seem to be typical of Canadian children living on the prairies in the 1920s. Nellie Campbell made many of her own and her children's clothes during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. She mentions sending to Eaton's in Manitoba for cloth, thread, and other necessities that she could not make herself, but she found it much cheaper to make children['s clothing than to buy it. And she frequently ripped up used adult clothing to make such things as underwear, knee trousers, shirts, and the like for children (she mentions mostly boys). She also knitted woolen stockings for Emerson and made his underwaists rather than purchasing them from far-away Eaton's in Manitoba.

Underwaists

Nellie also wrote brief articles for local magazines and other publications on home-making. In one of these articles she discusses the endless mending she had to do and offers tips for mothers mending home-made underwaists for boys and girls: "Perhaps you have had trouble with the children's underwaists tearing out at the hem from their garter pins. This can be avoided if a narrow strip of cloth folded double for strength is stitched from the shoulder seam down the center of each front of the waist. The strip should end in a short tab about one inch below the hem of the waist. If the garter pin is pinned to this tab there is no strain on the waist and no danger of tearing" (Article published 5 March, 1947, in the Free Press Prairie Farmer, reprinted in "Lovingly Yours, Nellie", p. 335). This article is interesting because it shows that Canadian boys and girls still worn long stockings in 1947 and held them up by hose supporters attached to underwaists. Most commerically made underwaists already had the reinforcement strips over the shoulder to relieve the strain of supporters, but Mrs. Campbell is writing for rural or small-town mothers who would probably be making their own children's underwear or else mending underwear handed down from other sources. A Montgomery Ward's "Fuller Waist, sold in 1901, shows the strips down the front of a boy's undergarment with the garter attachment in front: However, by the 1940s, commercial waists had the reinforcement strips of "self material" running over the shoulders but with the tabs for supporters attached at the sides, not in front. See the advertisement for Sears underwaists and garter waists for 1944-45, styles C, D, E and F.








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Created: 10:09 PM 2/21/2007
Last edited: 10:09 PM 2/21/2007