Hand towel woven by Sister Selina Lily (Lil) Mackenzie while living at RSL House, Albion Street, St Kilda. Lil moved into RSL House circa 1965, and immediately took lessons in weaving. She became very proficient, winning awards for her work at the Show. Her niece recalls that Lil had been happily weaving on the day she died (at the age of 90).

Physical Description

Blue and white cotton hand towel. Woven on a loom with a repeating diamond pattern. Fringed at ends.


This collection provides an important insight into the role of women (in this instance nurses) who served during World War I, and is being collected as a possible story line for the planned centenary of WWI celebrations. Sister Selina Lily (Lil) Mackenzie served in Egypt, France, Italy and England between 1915 and 1920. A keen photographer, Lil took images of her time in Egypt; the photographs were carefully placed in albums, and chronicle the hospital at which she served (in a grand hotel, and Luna Park Cairo). The camera on which these images were taken is part of this collection, the inside of the leather case bearing Lil's name with the date 1915 and location Cairo, Egypt. Also donated in this group are Lil's nursing capes, one made of a very light-weight silk (necessary in the extreme heat of Egypt); buttons carefully removed from her uniforms and kept by the family; and souvenirs from Egypt. Lastly, three hand-towels, woven by Lil when a resident of RSL House (a retirement home) in her 80s are included in the group.
Photographs of Cairo, taken on the camera being donated in this group, have been offered to the museum by another family member.

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