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Euphemia Somerville

Diploma in Social Study 1920

Graduated: 1920

Euphemia Somerville, nee Gibb (1860-1935) completed a Diploma in Social Study in 1920/21. Her obituary suggests she was 'an inspirational character', demonstrated in her community and public service before and after undergoing social work training. After her husband's death in 1907, she organised voluntary health visiting services on behalf of Glasgow City Council, before being invited to come to Edinburgh to do likewise. In 1908, she started the Edinburgh Voluntary Health Workers' Association; in 1919, she was elected an Independent councillor (Merchiston Ward) for Edinburgh City Council, supported by the EWCA, and held her seat until her death in 1935, acting on planning and housing committees. She did her social work training at this time, and went on in 1928 to set up the Edinburgh Welfare Housing Trust to build 'good houses for the very poor. She became concerned in projects with prostitutes, mentally ill people and for toddlers' provision, including playgrounds and a nursery school, the first of which opened in 1930. She became the city's second woman baillie (magistrate) in 1932.

Source: Obituary by Sue Innes in The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, edited by Elizabeth L. Ewan, Sue Innes, Sian Reynolds, Rose Pipes, 2006, Edinburgh University Press.