Tennis for Everyone in 1900 & the Wearing of the Middy Blouse





This photo from the Waldren Studio Collection, Dalhousie University is a glass negative inscribed in handwriting: Mrs. C. C. Gregory 1900.   Can anyone make the connection to Mrs. C. C. Gregory?  Or anyone else in this photo? Or, is there a written or remembered history of playing tennis in Antigonish, which involved extended family and all generations, men, women, and children?


waldren_118_042 outdoor pose tennis rackets nautical dress 1900-07 Mrs CC Gregory

Does anyone remember wearing or seeing a photo of someone in the girl’s middy blouse, as shown in this 1908 pattern?   It is thought that the middy blouse,  was popularized in the Victorian age, particularly by Prince Edward.     The classic middy blouse is modeled on the uniform of the British Navy — the midshipman — reportedly to honour Horatio Lord Nelson, the famed British admiral an his great victories.

But it was Roaring 20s when women began to dig into the man’s closet.  The midshipman’s white and navy top led to the creation of the “middy,” which is really just a sailor’s shirt that has been given a feminine touch. Middies were more popular with girls 14 and under, although women could find sizes that fit, too. Adults tended to favor the middy for sportswear, wearing it with wool skirts or knickers. Many women’s sports team adopted the middy as part of their uniform. The fabric was typically heavy twill cloth or wool flannel with the standard 1920s hip band and a single shirt pocket. Blue cuffs matched the sailor flap and neck tie. Navy middy tops were equally common as their white sisters.

Girl's Sailor Suit c 1908

Pattern #7096: Girl’s Sailor Suit: Circa 1908


Size: 30″ bust.


This pattern was published by The May Manton Pattern Company. It was originally described as “Girl’s Sailor Suit with body lining and straight skirt that can be plaited or gathered, with or without yoke facing for a blouse.” Written directions. Pattern dates circa 1908.


Suggested fabrics: Cambric, serge, galatea cloth, and percale. The colors were navy blue, blue, white, and black.


Materials required: 5-1/4 Yds. 36″ fabric.

Here is a photo of tennis players in Halifax, taken around the same time.

tennis players polo grounds Quinpool rd 1895 from Robert Cedric Brown

Polo Grounds, Quinpool Road, Halifax, 1895. Photo Courtesy of Robert Cedric Brown


Posted in Conditions for Community Health, Cooperative Arts, Gender, Photography Archives, Recreation and Sports, Social Support Networks.