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Isabella T. McNair, 1887-1985. Teacher in India

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Isabella T. McNair, 1887-1985. Teacher in India 1940s

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This photograph forms part of an archive which belonged to Isabella T. McNair. Born in Kilmarnock, McNair gained an MA in English from the University of Edinburgh before moving to British India in 1917 to teach at Women’s Christian College in Madras. In 1928 she was appointed Principal of Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore. McNair followed in the footsteps of a wave of British missionary women who began arriving in India during the late nineteenth century. A gentle woman, she was noted for her deliberate manner and soft voice, even when disciplining her students. She promoted religious tolerance, allowing Muslim girls who transferred to Kinnaird in the 1930s to fast during Ramadan. After Partition many refugee students were comforted by the warmth of her welcome after the displacement and in some cases violence they had experienced.

Glossary Open


The Partition of British India in 1947, on the basis of religious demographics, led to the creation of the sovereign states of Pakistan and India. Millions were displaced or died as a result of the violent nature of Partition.



  • Acc. No. PGP 502.78
  • Medium Silver gelatine print
  • Size 11.30 x 6.60 cm
  • Credit Presented to the collection by Mrs Muriel Hartley 2009