Born in Dunfermline, she attended Queen Anne High School then started work as a linen weaver (her father was an active trade unionist in the linen industry). When he was blacklisted, the family moved to Northern England, then later returned to Dundee where he worked in Manhattan Works (Jute Industries Ltd). Janet then married Alexander and brought up three children,
Alexander, Magdalene and William in the Arklay Street area.
Harry Hird, a stoker in Cleghorn Works and a leading light in the Labour party, encouraged her to take an interest in politics. She first stood for the Council in 1945 (from 3 Arklay St) and was elected to Ward 5, Linlathen, where she served for 24 years, latterly deputising for the Lord Provost. Appalled by the conditions in Mollison Street Poorhouse, she campaigned for improvement and had a special interest in children’s welfare, notably children’s homes and foster care. Her concern for old people is reflected in the naming of Janet Brougham House, a residential care home. Overall her convenorship brought great improvements. Affectionately known as “Mrs Wummin”, she retired in May 1970 and was awarded the OBE in July.