Thursday, March 29, 2012

Godey's Lady's Book - June 1875

Another month!  June!  It's getting warmer...but all the ladies are wearing just as much clothing!  I went to Old Sturbridge Village one very warm summer day and was told by one of the historic interpreters, a woman in a very warm kitchen with a roaring fire upon which she was preparing some 1830-style food, that people assume the more clothes you wear, the hotter you are.  The reality, she said, is that in former times, wearing layers of light linen and cotton clothing actually kept you cooler.  She said she was quite comfortable in her layers.  An interesting side note...other interesting notes in this month's fashions, a beaded, braided belt, an effort to bring garnets back into fashion, and the proper management of the cumbersome but fashionable demi-train!

Thanks as always to the incomparable Providence Athenaeum for the gracious provision of these images and text.

By permission of the Providence Athenaeum

Figure 1-Walking dress of two shades of brown silk.  The front breadth is formed of kilt plaits; the back breadths are plain.  Apron overskirt and sash of the darkest shade of silk.  Basque bodice, trimmed with the dark silk.  Chip hat, trimmed with silk and flowers.
Figure 2-Evening dress of two shades of blue silk.  The front of skirt is made of diamonds of the dark silk, with the lighter silk between them, plaiting at the sides; plain skirt in the back, with sash to correspond with the front.  Low corsage, buttoned up the front, with lace around the neck.  Hair arranged in finger puffs, with strings of pearls twisted around.
Figure 3-Visiting dress of two shades of purple.  The front breadth is formed of puffs and plaitings of the light shade upon the dark; the sides have pieces of the dark buttoned over; the back breadths are trimmed with a plaited ruffle, the upper part arranged in a pouf.  Basque bodice of the dark shade, with trimming and sleeves of the lighter.  Bonnet of the two shades of crape, trimmed with feathers and half wreath of leaves and berries.
Figure 4-Dinner dress of green silk.  The front breadth of skirt trimmed with puffs and white lace; the side and back breadths are plaited, the side ones, as well as the bodice, being trimmed with bands of velvet and velvet bows.  Basque bodice, surplice in the neck, plaited to match the skirt, and trimmed with lace and velvet; open sleeves, trimmed to correspond.
Figure 5-Evening dress of white muslin over pink silk.  The pink silk underskirt is trimmed with a plaiting.  Long apron overskirt of the muslin, and trained skirt in the back, trimmed with a  row of Mechlin lace, and a thick roll of muslin banded with pink ribbon; garlands of flowers upon each side.  Low corsage and short sleeves; the corsage of pink silk in the front, plaited white muslin in the back, and trimmed with lace.  Hair arranged in curls, with flowers to match those on dress arranged through them.
Figure 6-Dress for girl of six years old, made of gray summer Cashmere.  The skirt is trimmed with two ruffles bound with pink silk.  Basque bodice, trimmed with pink silk, and sash.  Gray chip hat, trimmed, with gray and pink.

Providence Athenaeum

First Side
Figures 1 and 2-Front and back view of black silk house dress, made with shirred front, and sides divided by bands of silk or velvet; quadruple box-plait in the back of skirt.  Basque bodice, trimmed to correspond.
Figures 3 and 4-Front and back view of walking dress, made of gray silk; it is made with two skirts and a basque.  The underskirt is trimmed with a kilt plaiting on the front breadth, with bands of darker silk above.  The back is trimmed with a ruffle with a shirred puff above it.  The overskirt and basque are trimmed with the darker silk.
Figures 5 and 6-Front and back view of walking dress.  The underskirt is of brown silk, trimmed with three knife plaitings; the sleeves are of the same silk, trimmed to correspond.  The overskirt and sleeveless basque are of brown and gray plaid woolen goods, trimmed with brown silk.
Figure 7-Bonnet of gray chip, trimmed with gray velvet, feathers, and ribbon; lace ruche inside the brim, with pink ribbon bow and flowers in it.
Figure 8-Bonnet of white chip, faced with brown velvet, trimmed with blue silk and velvet, and feathers of the two colors; blue-bird in the face, and white illusion.
Figure 9-Lady's chemise, made square in the neck with puff with embroidered ruffle upon each side of it.
Figure 10-Infant's bib, made of piqué, trimmed with a muslin ruffle.
Figure 11-Sleeve for a silk dress of two shades of color.  The sleeve is of the darker shade and the cuff of the lighter, while the fringe and buttons are a combination of the two shades.  Above the cuff there are folds of silk, which terminate at the elbow with a bow of the two colors.
Figure 12-Brown chip hat, trimmed with brown silk and scarlet poppies, brown feather at left side.
Figure 13-Velvet necklet, with gilt ornaments.
Figure 14-Fraise of loops of black velvet and pink ribbon, with lace to be worn inside, fastened by a bird.

Providence Athenaeum
Second Side
Figure 1-Evening dress of pale blue silk, made with a sleeveless basque of matelassé, of a slightly darker shade; the neck and sleeves are trimmed with Mechlin lace.  Hair arranged in puffs and curls, with blue convolvulus arranged in it.
Figure 2-Dress of gray silk, trimmed with pink; white lace fichu.  Hair arranged in coil in the back with two long curls, and pink ribbon bow at the side.
Figure 3-Evening dress of pink silk, cut square in the neck; short sleeves, trimmed with black velvet and white lace.  Hair arranged in finger puffs, with tortoise-shell comb, and velvet band and flowers.
FIgure 4-Evening dress of white silk, with low corsage and short sleeves; bertha of white lace, wreath of roses trimming corsage.  Hair arranged in puffs, with half wreath surrounding them.
Figure 5-Fichu, made of silk to match the dress with which it is to be worn, or of a contrasting color; it is trimmed with lace.
Figure 6-Fichu and ruff for the neck, made of blue silk, trimmed with black lace and a narrow chain-stitched border; lace ruche inside around the throat.
Figure 7-White silk fan, painted with colored flowers, and edged with white lace.
Figure 8-Side and back combs, with ornamented tops of cut jets.
FIgure 9-Morning cap of white muslin, trimmed with a row of lace, black velvet band and loops.
Figure 10-Bège Cashmere costume for a girl of four.  The skirt is bordered with a plaited flounce, sewn on with a heading.  Round tunic, likewise edged with a plaiting, and looped up at the side with a bow and buckle.  High basque bodice, with coat-shaped sleeves.
Figures 11 and 12-Linen collar and cuff, fastened by a band of colored linen and buttons.
Figure 13-In our present illustration we give designs for a novel and beautiful style of handkerchief border.  The borders are of batiste écru, or, if intended for mourning, can be embroidered in black and white, the centre of the handkerchief being of fine cambric.  The embroidery is worked partly with colored thread or zephyr wool; partly with white embroidery cotton in satin stitch.  The outlines are worked around with buttonhole stitch.
Figure 14-White muslin morning cap, trimmed with lace; pink silk ruche, and bow and ends.
Figure 15-Suit for boy of four, made of dark-brown Cashmere; kilt skirt; sacque, trimmed with silk braid.
Figure 16-White cambric dress for child of three years, covered with English embroidery; it can be worn over an under slip of blue or pink silk, if desired.
Figures 17 and 18-Waistband of beads.  The beads are threaded on strong thread in equal lengths, and three rows for each strip.  Two sizes of beads are used, the middle row being larger than the others.  Figure 18 shows the mode of arranging the rows; these are then plaited together.  The band is finished with a ribbon bow; loops of beads and a swivel to hold the fan.
Figure 19-Costume for a girl of four years, made of gray Cashmere; kilt skirt, and sleeveless basque.  The skirt is trimmed with a band of blue silk, and the basque is made of it.
Figures 20 and 21-Brooch and earring of Bohemian garnets.  Fifty years ago garnets were extensively used for jewelry, but in recent times more precious stones have taken their place.  An attempt was made at the Vienna Exhibition to revive the taste of the public for garnet ornaments, and the Bohemian jewellers displayed many trinkets of this kind exquisitely designed and set.  Our illustrations represent some fine specimens, which may show that the brilliant red stone has been unjustly neglected.  As a comparatively cheap and effective gem, it certainly deserves the preference before colored paste.  The precious or Oriental garnet, from the River Syrian, in Pegu, however, is still much esteemed, its lustre and beauty placing it above all others.  But en cabochon it is called carbuncle; and another variety, from Siberia, is known as "gooseberry garnet."
Figure 22-Jet necklet.  The outside contour of this necklet is composed of several rows of small jet beads stitched together.  In the inside, the seven rows, which mount as a ladder upon the bodice, consist of single rows of beads, increasing in length as they ascend; while the double row, from which the cross is suspended, encircles the throat.  The necklet terminates with tassels of jet beads.
Figures 23 and 24-Front and back view of dress of girl of eight years, made of écru-colored serge, trimmed with one plaited ruffle on the lower skirt, with buttons fastening the plaits, overskirt and basque, with passementerie ornaments upon it, and up the front of the skirt.  Sash fastening overskirt in the back.
Figure 25-Boy's suit for boy of four years, made of dark-blue serge, and trimmed with braid and buttons.  Sailor hat of straw.
Figure 26-Dress for girl of six years, made of écru-colored batiste; the skirt is trimmed with narrow kilt plantings.  The bodice is low, with a basque, edged around the neck and sleeves with a narrow worked edging.
Figure 27 and 28-Front and back views of girl's walking costume, made of gray bêge, one skirt trimmed with a deep shirred ruffle; basque bodice, trimmed with a fold.
Figure 29-Necklet of passementerie, studded over with fine jet beads.
Figure 30-Chatelaine bag for ball toilet.  The bag is made of white stiff net, and lined with white sarcenet.  It is then covered with blue convolvulus of delicate shades and varied foliage.  It is mounted on ribbon that matches the toilet in color.  The fastening is at the side under a tuft of convolvulus.
Figure 31-Black silk fan, lined with pink.


On Fashions for June
We have heard so much of plainer toilets being adopted, that we imagined this spring would see the change effected.  On the contrary, we hardly ever remember more variety, more luxury, and a greater quantity of material used in a single costume than at present. As the season advances, we see fewer startling changes than we imagined there would be when we looked upon the bewildering masses earlier in the season.  We see little else but plaids and checks for parts of costumes; cuirass bodices are universal.  Skirts box-plaited at the back have taken, in a great measure, the place of poufs; and tunics that drape the figure so closely in front as to make one suspect that under garments are reduced to the smallest possible number and proportions are the prevailing style.

Our ultra fashionables have adopted the plan of wearing extremely short white underskirts, and of having the lower part of their train skirts trimmed inside with flounces of white muslin or cambric, so as to banish the long white skirt entirely.  This is not a bad plan, as the lining moves with the dress, which is not the case with the underskirt.  Demi trains have superseded the all round skirts, and all drapery about the skirt is soft and abundant.  Not a vestige of crinoline, no more than if such an institution had never prevailed.  These demi trains are very inconvenient for the street, as we have always said, and even for getting into a carriage, and they are so tied back and banded with elastic that walking, and, above all, sitting down, are not the easy, careless movements of yore.  Some dressmakers give instructions as to the management of these demi trains.  The best manner of gathering up the train is to turn to the right, bending slightly backwards, and to take hold of the dress as far down as possible with the right hand.  When your straighten and stand upright again, the skirt will be slightly lifted, and thus become no longer than a short costume.  WHen you wish to let the skirt trail again, you must throw it back with a sweep of the right hand.  This will be found a much more graceful way of preserving the train from contact with the streets than by lifting it on each side with both hands.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lambs and Lions

Definitely, more lambs than lions.

Newborn lambs at President James Monroe's home near Charlottesville.
The weather has certainly been lamb-like for the most part.  We've heard about that on the news.  Down in Charlottesville, Virginia, everything was exploding with flowers.  I was there for the Virginia Festival of the Book--and what a great festival it is!  Hundreds of authors in a historic and beautiful city.

This is actually Reston, but you get the idea.
This misty shot from the terraced gardens at Jefferson's Monticello was about as liony as we got.  Some thunderstorms overnight, too.  But otherwise, a splendid visit full of history and writing.

Here's the history:

Dad and Peggy at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Ash Lawn - Highland, the home of President James Monroe.
Dad and me at Montpelier, James Madison's home.
And here's the writing:

Joe Samuel Starns has written a beautiful book called Fall Line, set in rural Georgia in 1955 on the day the floodgates for a new dam are closed to create a lake.  This book is getting great reviews.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says it is "a quiet dazzler of a new novel."  Everyone should check this book out!

Sam and I were on a panel with Casey Clabough, who has written a book called Confederado, about the Confederate families who, in the aftermath of the war, chose to move to Brazil.  It is a fascinating and little known part of American history.

The moderator for the panel was the writer Clifford Garstang, a great writer in addition to being a great moderator.  His award-winning collection of short stories, In an Uncharted Country, deals with the people in and around Rugglesville, Virginia.  Another great read worth taking a look at!

I also got to hear a fascinating panel with Aniko Bodroghkozy, whose book Equal Time focuses on the relationship between mass media and the Civil Rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.  Her talk dealt with the way both black leaders of the Civil Rights movement and white segregationists used (and were used by) television news media.  What an incredible topic!  On the panel as well was Kelly Figueroa-Ray, who spoke about the launch of a new digital archive of Civil Rights-era material.  This archive, called "The Civil Rights Movement as Theological Drama", collects interviews, photographs and other materials that reflect the divergent views of many different participants (e.g., KKK leaders, white ministers, black activists, etc.) on their role in the struggle using religion as a filter.  It is an important collection of documents and I look forward to browsing through the archive and learning more.

Back to the lambs.  I got Clovis this lamb as a replacement for his much beloved and much grieved Lambie.  There seemed to be some affection there.

Then Clovis proceeded to disembowel the new lamb.

He makes no apologies.

What a face.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Godey's Lady's Book - May 1875

And here is May 1875--not coincidentally directly in line timing-wise with The Rebel Wife.  Augusta would have read this issue.  Some interesting things:  new hairstyles and references to the 17th century, very ugly Madras cottons, and the introduction of "beige".  Thanks as always to the sublime Providence Athenaeum.

By permission of the Providence Athenaeum.


Figure 1 - Dress of light ecru colored batiste; the skirt formed of lengthwise puffs smaller in the back than front of skirt.  The sleeves are made to correspond, only the puffs run around the arm; brown silk cuffs, and brown silk sleeveless jacket, double breasted.  Ecru-colored chip bonnet, trimmed with silk, feathers, and colored roses.

Figure 2 - House dress of gray silk, the front breadth trimmed with puffs, and plantings finished at the sides with bows.  The back has one puff and a plaiting and a long overskirt.  Blue silk body, trimmed with cord and ornaments.

Figure 3 - Evening dress of white and pink silk.  The underskirt is of the white silk, trimmed up the front and on the back of skirt with narrow lengthwise ruffles and pink ruches.  Low basque bodice and overskirt of pink silk, trimmed with white lace and black velvet.

Figure 4 - Dinner dress of green silk.  The front breadth is formed of kilt plaits, with bands of darker green silk, with ornaments at the ends crossing it.  The back breadths are ruffled to the waist.  The sides are trimmed with the darker silk, as are also the sleeves.  The bodice is a plain cuirass basque, with sleeveless basque of black lace over it.

Figure 5 - House dress of lilac silk, with the front breadth trimmed with narrow ruffles, the back breadths trimmed with a deep ruffle with a band of darker silk above it.  Overskirt at the sides and back.  Cuirass basque, cut surplice, with standing ruffs of white muslin inside.  Sleeve slightly open, and formed of lengthwise puffs.

Providence Athenaeum


First Side
Figure 1 - Dress of two shades of lilac silk.  The front breadth is trimmed with a deep kilt plaiting, the back breadths with a narrower one and ruffles.  The long apron in front is trimmed to simulate three skirts with the darker shade.  The jacket bodice is of the darker, trimmed with pockets, band and bows of the lighter.  White chip bonnet, trimmed with two shades of lilac.

Figure 2 - Dress for traveling, of gray tweed, made with long straight overskirt perfectly plain.  Basque jacket, open in the back of the skirt, with buttons and buttonholes down the sides.  It is trimmed with black braid, as are the seams of the back.  Gray straw hat, trimmed with bird and feather and silk.

Figure 3 - Walking dress of two shades of brown.  The underskirt is of silk, trimmed with five ruffles, and a pouf in the back.  The polonaise is of summer Cashmere, with a long apron front, and short back merely like a basque, trimmed with a band of silk.  Brown chip hat, trimmed with silk, long feather , and flower.

Figure 4 - Walking dress of gray and black silk.  The front breadth is puffed of the gray silk; the revers at the side are of the black; two black and two gray ruffles trim the back, the rest is of gray.  Black summer matelassé sack, trimmed with gray feather band.  Black hat, trimmed with gray.

Figure 5 - House dress of striped and plain silk.  The front breadth is of blue and gray striped silk, trimmed with two bias folds, with a band of gray feathers above them.  The back breadths are plaited; they, the sleeveless bodice and apron overskirt, are of plain gray.  The sleeves are striped, and are trimmed to match the overskirt with lace and feathers.

Figure 6 - Evening dress of pale green silk, made with one skirt, the sides trimmed with two rows of lace, and loops of wide ribbon and ends; deep basque bodice, cut surplice in the neck; short sleeves, trimmed with lace and ribbon loops and ends.

Figure 7 - Hat of gray chip, trimmed with gray silk, feather, and steel buckle.

Figure 8 - Bonnet of black lace, trimmed with long blue feather and ribbon.

Figure 9 - Bonnet of black chip, trimmed with green feather, ribbon, and black lace, pink roses inside the brim.

Figure 10 - Bonnet of white chip, trimmed with black velvet, feather and pink roses.

Figure 11 - Bonnet of brown crape, the crown covered with spotted net, and trimmed with ribbon and aigrette.

Providence Athenaeum

Second side
Figures 1 and 2 - Evening coiffures.  The front hair is cut short and curled à la Reine Henriette across the forehead.  Behind this a piece of hair is turned back over a frizette.  The side-pieces are also rolled back over frizettes, and the back hair is twisted into a knot, ending in a loose curl.  See fig. 2.

Figures 3 and 4 - Indoor coiffure.  Part the hair in the middle, comb it back, and arrange it on the head in loops over small frizettes.  The back hair is arranged in hanging plaits, which, if false, are headed by a bow of ribbon.  See figure 4 for back of coiffure.

Figure 5 - Bracelet of jet beads threaded on elastic and ornamented with jet medallions.

Figure 6 - Neck bow of pink crêpe de chine, white lace, and pearl buckles.

Figure 7 - Chemisette and standing ruff to wear with a surplice dress.

Figure 8 - Walking dress for little girl of five years oils, made with a cape of white piqué, and finished all around the edge with English embroidery.

Figure 9 - High buttoned boot of kid, stitched with white.

Figure 10 - Coronet of rosettes, made of jet beads, fastened on to a slender wreath of cut jet.

Figure 11 - Infants' long robe, trimmed with vandyked embroidery put on en tablier, and around the bottom.

Figure 12 - Apron of gray linen, braided with chain stitch of white thread, and surrounded with white worsted braid.

Figure 13 - White muslin apron.  Trimmed with a frill of the same material, and with white lace.  Above the frill is a vandyked trimming of batiste, trimmed to correspond.

Figure 14 - High kid shoe for house or street wear.

Figures 15 and 16 - Front and back view of jacket to correspond with.

Figure 17 - Boys' waistcoat and trousers of gray summer cloth, ornamented with braid and buttons.

Figure 18 - Bonnet of black chip, trimmed with a scarf of pale pink silk, feather and flower inside the face.

Figure 19 - Bonnet of white straw, trimmed with pale and dark blue ribbon and feather.

Figure 20 - Ornamental pearl pins for the hair.

Figure 21 - Ladies' chemise, with yoke, made with lengthwise insertion and tucks, with plaited pieces forming scallops coming below.

Figures 22 and 23 - Front and back view of morning dress, made of white or colored Cashmere, trimmed with one ruffle around the bottom of skirt, headed with two narrow standing ones, and two bands, which also trims the front cuffs and pocket.

On Fashions for May

As the new spring suits each daddy appear, there does not remain a doubt but that all overdresses, such as polonaises, redingotes, tabliers, and basque bodies, will be quadrille, as the French term it; in plain English, they will be checks or plaids, for squares have evidently taken he place of stripes.  Some few of the newest costumes are made entirely of the plaid material, but, for the most part, it is judiciously mixed with plain faille.  The plaids are not regular; they do not look like even checks; on the contrary, they are broken and crossed with lines, more like the plaid patterns on tartan scarfs than plain checks.  There is ag rest variety in the designs, and, as a rule, the checks are somewhat large; they are either a very dark color, with white, or else some shade of bêge.  A few contain three colors, such as brown and gray, with a prune stripe, pale blue, dark blue, and écru.  Some of the new plaid materials too closely resemble the patterns on Madras cotton handkerchiefs to be pretty; consequently care should be taken in selecting, as we can conscientiously say some of the goods seen are the ugliest we have ever had occasion to look at. The newest Lyons silks are fails of medium reps, and of very dark shades; mixed and eccentric colors have disappeared, and given place to more natural hues, browns and grays predominating decidedly in quantity.  The natural soft browns are called beige color, and these range from noisette to a creamy white tint.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Heat Wave

It was very warm here this week--unseasonably warm.  Clovis really didn't need his sweater when we had an outdoor coffee at the Starbucks in Wayland Square!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tenant Women

Wife of Texas tenant farmer.  June 1937.  Dorothea Lange.  Library of Congress.
I came across a fascinating book in the library called Mothers of the South.  Published in 1939 from University of North Carolina, it is a field study white tenant farm women in the Piedmont area of the South, tobacco and cotton lands, by Margaret Jarman Hagood.  One of the fascinating individuals revealed in the book is a single tobacco tenant farm woman with several children.  Here she is described in appearance:

The mother who manages Farm Eleven presents an air of respectability with gold rimmed glasses, carefully mended rayon hose, and a neat black and white checkered dress.  Adorning her bosom is her most treasured possession--a gold plated brooch containing miniatures of herself and a girl friend taken when they were eighteen.  Her graying hair is combed back straight, but neatly, to a knot now stylishly high.  Her features and manner suggest her strength of will and pride in accomplishment.
Wife of tenant farmer near Morganza, Louisiana.  November 1938.  Russell Lee.  LOC.
And here is the summary of her life and condition:

Farm Eleven:  A Mother Manages

In every region of the United States the percentage of women who are widowed or divorced is considerably lower in rural farm than in nonfarm areas.  A farm woman bereft of her husband often remarries quickly, moves into town or village, or is absorbed into some relative's family.  She is divorced rather than widowed.  She began farming alone when her oldest son was only twelve and has retained the managing position.  Although only a sharecropper, she has been successful enough during her ten years of farming without benefit of a husband that she has been in need of relief only once for a short period, and last year she came out far enough ahead to buy a second-hand automobile. 

Wife of tenant farmer living near Muskogee, Oklahoma, peeling tomatoes for canning. July 1939.  Russell Lee.  LOC.
A résumé of her life illustrates several other points of atypicality. She was not born or brought up on a farm, as is the rule, but in a mill village.  She went to work in a cotton mill at the age of eleven after a minimum of schooling and worked there for sixteen years until her first son was born.  Her first marriage at twenty-five was late, and even more unusual was the Enoch Arden behavior of her husband, a World War soldier reported dead, who reappeared after her second marriage.  She chose to keep the second husband because he "would work sometimes," and they began farming twenty years ago.  As his health failed she did a larger and larger part of the field work while he stayed home to look after the baby.  Finally when his drinking became almost continuous, the friction between them unbearable, and his health quite bad, she divorced him, and he went to a government institution. 
Female tenant farmer drawing water at well. McIntosh County, Oklahoma.  June 1939.  Russell Lee.  LOC.
This happened ten years ago.  Her children were all under twelve years of age and she could not find a landlord who would take her with five small children and no man.  A kind old man in the spirit of neighborliness and "helping widows and orphans" finally let her move to an unused house on his land.  Early in the spring some tenants moved away unexpectedly and she prevailed upon him to let her take over their tobacco crop.  Her twelve-year-old boy did the plowing and her nine-year-old boy learned how the next year.  The mother did almost everything else, even to staying up nights to take care of the fire in the curing barns.  She says she "never had no noon"; while the others were eating or sitting around she had all the housework to do.  Things like sewing, mending, and canning had to be done at night.  Neighbors volunteer testimonials to her industry--"she ain't got a lazy bone in her body." 

With her children practically "raised"--the youngest is twelve now--she can take things a little easier.  It is well she can because her health is "giving out" after all that work, her blood pressure is about one hundred and seventy and her eyes are failing. But it is only the hardest work which she forswears.  She still does most of the grading of the tobacco and all of the managing of the farm.  She would have bought a mule when they came out ahead last fall but the landlord wants to work his own team on this place.  She doesn't want to move since this seems like home after ten years of living here even though the house is just a three-room log cabin.  One of her sons who has a job in a grocery store in town started buying a second-hand Model A Ford but could not keep up the payments.  So she bought out his interest, paid the balance owed, and now speaks proudly of "my car."

Wife and child of Alabama sharecropper.  Walker County, Alabama.  February 1937.  Arthur Rothstein. LOC.
This woman of forty-nine is a strange mixture of ancient and modern, conservative and progressive.  Most unusual is her keen interest in politics and in other national and world affairs.  She has decided views about such matters and expresses them without hesitation or timidity. She deplores the present depression, thinks it will get worse as election time approaches because that always makes for more insecurity, but believes that neither Republicans nor Democrats can do anything about the depression because it is caused by machines displacing men from jobs and there not being enough work to go around.  She illustrates her points with concrete examples from her observations in both farming and the textile industry.  She listens tolerantly to minor protests from her grown son, but considers her judgment far superior to his on such matters--an unusual attitude for a tenant farm mother.  She is equally sure about crop control's being for the best.  Her regret is that so many people are already sick of it--even some of those who voted for it but received small allotments--and she is afraid they will not vote for it next year.  She thinks they should consider in terms of two or three years the cumulative effect of control or no control, but she knows most of them are shortsighted and think only of what they can get at the minute. 

She will suffer badly from being cut this year, but she is just as glad not to be able to have such a big crop since she should not work quite so hard now.  She has had as many as seven acres but she thinks they will be allowed only five this year.  The landlord has not yet apportioned his allotted eleven acres among his three tenants, but, since he is now too old to farm himself, it ought to be divided out fairly.  The landlord has always been good to her and she and her children, in turn, work for him on his garden patches without being paid for it. 

Tobacco and corn are the main crops grown.  The land is not good for wheat and, although they have a garden and do some canning, the beetle has become so bad that she can no longer count on getting enough canned to last through the winter.  They killed one hog this year, but of course that will not supply meat throughout the year.  All the children except one seem to have survived the diet without serious injury to health.  The exception is the nineteen-year-old boy who works in town.  He has had rickets and has never been strong enough to do regularly the hard physical work involved in farming.

Wife of sharecropper who will be resettled on Skyline Farms, Alabama.  September 1935.  Arthur Rothstein.  LOC.
In this mother's attitudes and practices, the past is visible in her response to the paternalism of her landlord and in her ideas about "whipping children plenty and starting them to work early to bring them up right."  The present is evident in her emphasis on the cash crop to the exclusion of food needs.  The future is suggested in her growing interest in "what the world is coming to" and "why" and in her political articulateness.  She neither complains unduly over her past hardships nor worries too much about the future, yet she shows a larger comprehension of both past and future in her interpretation of the present than does the modal tenant mother.  Whether she has been able to accomplish what she has done because she had advanced ideas, or whether her ideas have been advanced through her life and experience in areas commonly reserved for men, she exemplifies a stage in both ideas and achievement beyond that reached by most of her sisters.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Godey's Lady's Book - February 1875

Once I'm on a roll, I like to keep it rolling.  Here's February!  Hope you enjoy it!  Some of my favorites include the detailed description of a new and fashionable hairstyle, including images to help, and a very reluctant discussion of children's clothes in the Chitchat!  Huge thanks to the Providence Athenaeum for these materials from their collection!

By permission of the Providence Athenaeum


Figure 1 - Visiting dress of green gros grain silk, made with two skirts and basque bodice.  The lower skirt is trimmed with a kilt plaiting in the back, headed with a ruffle and band of the silk embroidered.  Apron overskirt, with sash ends trimmed with the same style of ruffle and band.  Basque bodice; open sleeves finished with a silk cord.  Green velvet bonnet, trimmed with feather, ribbon, and flowers.

Figure 2 - Walking dress of two shades of brown silk and Cashmere.  The underskirt is of the lightest shade of silk.  The overdress and bodice are of the darker shade of Cashmere, trimmed with fringe and passementerie.  Bonnet of velvet of the two shades, trimmed with a long feather.

Figure 3 - Dinner dress of two shades of plum-colored silk.  The underskirt is of the lighter; the front breadths trimmed with a knife plaiting of the darker silk; the back breadths with two ruffles, trimmed to correspond with the front.  Polonaise of the darker silk, with trimming of the lighter silk; light and dark ribbon sash ends and bows.

Figure 4 - Evening dress of two shades of blue silk.  The dress is composed entirely of the light, with the trimming of the darker.  The underskirt is trimmed with a kilt plaiting in alternate plaits of the two shades; the apron overskirt is composed of lengthwise puffs divided by ribbon bows, and finished with scallops and fringe at the edge; the sides are formed of folds of the two shades; pouf in the back; sash.  Jacket bodice; coat sleeves of the darker silk.

Figure 5 - Evening dress of pink silk, made with two skirts.  The lower one is formed of lengthwise puffs with two ruffles around the bottom of skirt.  The overskirt is apron front, puffed in the back, trimmed with Valenciennes lace and garlands of flowers.  Low corsage, with bretelles of lace and flowers; inner waist of muslin and lace.  Hair arranged in puffs, with flowers to match dress.

Figure 6 - Party dress for child of five years, made of white alpaca.  The front breadth is trimmed with bands of pink silk, the back breadths with a ruffle of the silk.  Pink silk overskirt, long at the sides and going up shorter in the back.  Waist trimmed with a bertha of pink silk.

Providence Athenaeum


First Side
Figure 1 - Visiting dress of black velvet.  The underskirt is plain; the polonaise is trimmed with lace and ribbon loops down the back of skirt, and is edged all around with lace.  Black velvet bonnet, trimmed with feather and pink roses.

Figure 2 - Walking dress of seal-brown camel's-hair, made with underskirt and polonaise, trimmed with fur fringe.  Bonnet of brown velvet, trimmed with feather, lace, and ribbon; spotted lace veil.  Muff to match the fur in fringe.

Figure 3 - This costume may be made either of blue serge or the lighter make of homespun.  The trimmings are black Titan braid and black japanned buttons.  The demi-fitting jacket opens slightly heart-shaped in front, and has an upright frill of the same lined with silk.  The pockets on the side pieces are lined with silk and trimmed with braid.  Braid is laid on the sleeve to simulate a deep cuff; a gathered flounce with heading borders the skirt, over which a tunic is draped.  The tunic is long in front and short at the back.   Hat of dark blue felt, trimmed with velvet and feather.

Figure 4 - Black silk and Cashmere costume.  The underskirt is of silk, trimmed with two box-plaitings.  The overskirt and sleeveless basque are of Cashmere braided all over; silk sleeves.  Black velvet hat, trimmed with silk and feather.

Figure 5 - Plum-colored silk and velvet costume.  The underskirt is of silk; the front breadth trimmed with a large box-plait and buttons; the back breadths with a deep puff and narrow ruffles.  Velvet overdress and sleeveless basque; silk sleeves and vest.  Bonnet of silk and velvet, trimmed with feather and flowers.

Figure 6 - Walking dress of gray Cashmere.  The front breadth is trimmed with plaitings; the back breadths with three ruffles.  Cloak made of heavy cloth the color of dress, trimmed with velvet and fringe.  Gray felt bonnet, trimmed with velvet and feather blue inside.

Figure 7 - Echarpe of black gros grain ribbon six inches broad, attached to a waistband of the same material, and held in place by a clasp, as shown in our illustration.  The two ends are richly embroidered.  The flowers and stems are worked with purse silk, the natural color, in satin, overcast, knotted stitch, and point russe.  A heavy fringe five inches deep completes the echarpe.

Figure 8 - Echarpe of blue corded ribbon, attached to a waistband of the same material, and trimmed with black beaded insertion and lace.  The large bow is clasped by a passementerie agraffe.

Figures 9 and 10 - Blue steel aigrettes for bonnets and hats.

Figure 11 - Jet arrow for the hat or the hair.

Providence Athenaeum

Second Side
Figures 1 to 5 - The Virgile headdress, with comb. This simple morning headdress consists of torsades of hair fastened up with a comb, patented by M. Virgile, a Paris hairdresser. Fig. 2 represents the right side of the coiffure, and Fig. 4 the left side; Figs. 3 and 5 show the manner of arrangement.  First, part the two portions of hair which are to be waved or crêpe, then fasten in the comb at the back by means of a strand of hair, which should be twisted around and around.  If there is sufficient natural growth, it is used for the torsades that cross the interlace between the teeth of the comb.  But when the natural growth of hair is scanty, false torsades are slipped into the teeth of the comb.  A long curl is added at the back of each ear.

Figure 6 - Under-waist of cambric muslin, trimmed with tucks put on in points, edged on each side with a narrow edging.

Figure 7 - Jacket for girl of five years, made of gray cloth, scalloped and braided with black braid.

Figure 8 - Fancy bow for the hair, made of plain pink and figured silk, with a small white wing, and steel buckle and arrow in the centre.

Figure 9 - Cape made of French muslin puffs, divided by lace insertion, and trimmed with muslin ruffle, edged with lace.  Fraise around the neck, colored ribbon bow fastening it.

Figure 10 - Chemise for young lady: the yoke formed of lengthwise tucks, with insertion put on in scallops below it.

Figure 11 - Waist for ladies' dress; trimmed with Titan braid in rows, graduated both in the back and front; the sleeves are trimmed to correspond.

Figure 12 - Linen collar, trimmed with narrow braid; cravat of colored silk, trimmed to correspond.

Figure 13 - Velvet necklet, ornamented with jet, and jet locket hanging from it.

Figure 14 - Silver waistband, formed of medallions joined with chains.

Figure 15 - Cravat scarf of blue silk, with ends of Valenciennes lace inserted, and a row of lace edging it all around.

Figures 16 and 17 - Habit shirt and sleeve, with double ruffle of plaited muslin around the throat, a wider ruffle around the wrist.

Figures 18 and 19 - Front and back view of gymnastic costume for a girl of seven years, made of striped woollen goods, and trimmed with braid and buttons.

Figure 20 - Linen cuff, with frill.

Figures 21 and 22 - Habit shirt and sleeve of the fashionable shape, made of linen, edged with lace.

Figure 23 - Corset cover, made of Nainsook muslin, formed of lengthwise puffs, divided by worked insertion; the neck and sleeves are trimmed to correspond.

Figures 24 and 25 - Front and back view of dress for girl of ten years, made of brown serge.  The skirt is plain, trimmed with tabs on each plait, bound with braid; basque bodice, sash bows and ends in back.

Figure 26 - Bonnet of blue velvet, trimmed with ribbon, feather, and spray of pink roses.

Figure 27 - Hat of gray felt, trimmed with gray velvet and feather.


On Fashions for February
The little folks claim our space and attention first this month. We have had so much to discuss in the way of fashions for the older home members, that they have not had any very lengthy space devoted to them and we really have given so many designs for children's clothing as to leave but little for us to tell; but our readers seem to think they would like us to devote some space to chatting about their darlings, so we will endeavor to find something new to talk about.

Brown is the fashionable color for children's clothing this winter.  Dark seal and nut-brown shades are chosen, and appear in the bonnet, wrap, sash, and stockings.  Where white dresses are still worn by the little ones, these are the stylish accessories to them; when dark dresses are worn, the entire costume is brown.

As always, the full chitchat can be read in the below attachments.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Godey's Lady's Book - January 1875

This is the first in a hopefully long series of posts of issues of Godey's Lady's Book.  I will try to include all the fashion plates, their descriptions and the description of the latest styles from Paris and New York.  Truly fantastic!  I hope everyone enjoys looking at them and maybe some of you will find them useful for research as well.  Immense and eternal thanks to the Providence Athenaeum for working to scan these from their amazing collection.

Thanks to the Providence Athenaeum


Figure 1 - House dress of black silk, made with one skirt.  The side breadths are trimmed with kilt plaiting from the waist, with bands of silk crossing them, bound with silk of the new cardinal red; puff in the back of the skirt; jacket bodice, trimmed to correspond; open sleeves, with puffs on top.
Figure 2 - House dress, made of two shades of green silk.  The underskirt is trimmed with narrow ruffles; the polonaise fastens over at one side, and is trimmed with a ruffle and band; the neck is cut surplice; open sleeves, with puffs at top of arm.
Figure 3 - Evening dress of pink and white silk, made court train.  The front breadth is formed of apron and ruffle of white silk embroidered, trimmed with wreaths of foliage laid in ruches of lace; low corsage, with bertha to correspond.
Figure 4 - Dinner dress of two shades of purple and lilac silk.  The underskirt is of the darkest silk, trimmed with one ruffle, piped with the lighter at both top and bottom; three narrow folds head it at the top; apron overskirt of the lighter silk, with two box-plaited ruches for trimming; long pointed basque waist of the darker silk, cut surplice; coat sleeves, trimmed to correspond.  Sash in the back.
Figure 5 - Walking dress of two shades of brown silk.  The underskirt is of the two shades of silk, the ruffles and plantings being of the lighter; the jacket waist is deep on the sides and front, and is trimmed with the lighter silk; coat sleeves, with cuffs.  Bonnet of the two shades of velvet, trimmed with a long feather.
Figure 6 - Dress for child of four years.  Dark blue silk blue poplin dress and cloak, trimmed with Duchesse lace.  Blue velvet hat, trimmed with white and blue feather.

Providence Athenaeum


First Side
Figure 1 - Walking dress of brown Cashmere.  The underskirt is trimmed with folds on the front breadth, the back breadths with three ruffles; the overskirt and jacket bodice are simply stitched.  Bonnet of brown felt, trimmed with flowers and velvet.
Figure 2 - Morning dress of dark blue and gray striped Cashmere, trimmed with pointed bands of blue silk up the front.
Figure 3 - Walking dress of black silk.  The front breadth is trimmed with one deep ruffle.  headed with diagonal puffs; lengthwise puffs down the sides, fastened with ribbon bows; long overskirt in the back.  Black cloth jacket, with revers and cuffs of black velvet.
Figure 4 and 6 - Front and back view of house dress of black Cashmere, made with polonaise and underskirt, trimmed with side-plaited ruffles.
Figure 5 and 7 - Front and back view of house dress of navy blue serge.  The back breadth is trimmed with three ruffles; the apron overskirt with three narrower ones; jacket bodice, trimmed to correspond.
Figure 8 - Dinner dress of two shades of lilac silk.  The underskirt is of the darker shade, and is plain; the apron overskirt and bodice are of lighter, and can be trimmed with either white or black lace, to suit the taste of the wearer.
Figure 9 - Walking dress of brown silk and camel's hair.  The underskirt is of the silk of a dark shade, trimmed with one deep ruffle and puffs; the overskirt and basque is of the camel's hair, trimmed on the front with velvet bands, and cuffs and collar to correspond.  Brown felt hat, trimmed with velvet.
Figure 10 - House dress of gray and black striped poplin, trimmed with ruffles of the same; sleeveless basque of black velvet.
Figure 11 - Walking dress of black silk.   The front breadth is trimmed with ruffles, the back breadths are plain; jacket with revers, and flaring cuffs of black velvet.  Black velvet hat, trimmed with bird, and lace veil to fasten around the throat.

Providence Athenaeum

Second Side
Figure 1 - Dress for girl of seven years, made with underskirt and polonaise.  The underskirt is of gray Cashmere; the polonaise of blue, trimmed with fringe and a band of silk.  Hat of gray felt, trimmed with blue velvet.
Figure 2 - Dress for girl of six years, made of two shades of brown serge.  The dress is made of the lighter shade, trimmed with ruffles and revers of the darker.
Figure 3 - Suit for boy of eight years, made with Knickerbocker pants, and blouse fastened with a belt.
Figure 4 - Dress for girl of ten years, made of two shades of green.  The underskirt is of silk; the polonaise, which is long in front, is of Cashmere, trimmed with bands and small points of silk.
Figure 5 - Suit for boy of five years, made of black velvet, and trimmed with silk braid and buttons.
Figure 6 - Walking dress for girl of six, made of navy blue Cashmere.  The underskirt is trimmed with one ruffle, edged with three rows of narrow velvet; the overskirt and basque are trimmed with the velvet alone.  Blue felt hat, trimmed with velvet and wing.
Figure 7 - Bonnet of blue velvet, trimmed with flowers, ribbon, and feather.
Figure 8 - Hat of gray felt, trimmed with black velvet, feather and jet ornament.
Figure 9 - Bonnet of black velvet, trimmed with jet and leaves, silk, and colored wing.
Figure 10 - Hat of dark navy blue felt, trimmed with velvet and steel ornament.
Figure 11 - Evening coiffure, formed of plaits and short curls over the forehead.
Figure 12 - Linen apron, with bib and pocket, for girl of ten years, trimmed with a ruffle, edged with lace.
Figure 13 - White muslin fichu, trimmed with plantings of the same.
Figure 14 - Fashionable linen collar, and undersleeve to match
Figure 15 - Gentleman's silk cravat, made of black silk, spotted with crimson.
Figure 16 - Velvet bracelet, to match necklet.
Figure 17 - Black velvet necklet, with bow and long ends.
Figure 18 - Mantle of black velvet, trimmed with jet galloon and lace.
Figure 19 - Fichu of black and white lace, with Marguerites through the centre.
Figure 20 - Ladies' fashionable kid walking boot.
Figure 21 - Fashionable linen cuff, edged with lace.
Figure 22 - Breton collarette of black velvet, with silver ornaments across.
Figure 23 - Ladies' cloth sacque, trimmed with jet braid, buttons, and jet and silk fringe.
Figures 24 and 25 - Girl's cross-over fichu and tablier.  This style of garment, made in woolen materials, will be much worn by girls from seven to fourteen years of age.  Our model is made of blue serge flannel, and is trimmed with a blue woolen fringe, with a fancy heading streaked with color.  The tablier is draped at the sides, sewn to a waistband, and fastens at the back.  The fichu roses over the chest, and the end turns back with a revers.
Figure 26 - Black velvet bodice, trimmed with blue jet ornaments and feather trimming.
FIgures 27 and 28 - Front and back view of dark blue cloth dress, braided, for child of three years.
Figures 29 and 30 - Front and back view of dress for girl of eight years of age, made of brown diagonal serge.  The underskirt is trimmed with two ruffs; the overskirt and jacket bodice is trimmed with narrow piping folds.
Figure 31 - Fashionable kid boot, buttoned, and stitched with white.
Figure 32 - Evening coiffure, composed of braids and puffs, with a bow of ribbon and a rose at the right side.
Figures 33 and 34 - Front and back view of black velvet sleeveless polonaise, embroidered with jet and silk, and trimmed with lace.

The chitchat was the section where the fashion editor recounted the latest fashions, seen on the streets of New York and Philadelphia, or the showrooms of the finest purveyors in those cities, or direct from correspondents in Paris.  I will include the beginning, the remainder is accessible through the text images below.


On Fashions for January
We do not think we can better commence our greeting to our readers of 1875, than by speaking of some of the many beautiful novelties in jewelry seen, and which would be particularly beautiful and appropriate as gifts at this season, merely, however, warning our readers that, unfortunately, like all beautiful articles, they are not within the reach of all.  Accompanying a superb necklace, in which the diamonds were graduated in size, was a pendant of heart-shaped diamonds surrounding a heart-shaped emerald; from this was suspended a similar shaped large emerald set in diamonds.  With this magnificent and costly ornament were ear-rings to correspond.  Enamelled in gold, in brilliant colors, are setts for pendant and ear-rings of Medicis portraits.  The high, full ruffs, jewels, and headdress of those days are exquisitely painted.  The new styles of necklaces are oblong squares of yellow, finely-pierced gold; connected by slender bars between each one, hang red gold balls cut in diamond facets.  The ear-rings, in corresponding gold, are made like stars, and attached to this set is a massive cross of pierced gold, set with red gold studs.  Another equally massive style is of interlocked bars of red gold.  New watch chains are in slender links of gold, caught together by lovely large pearls and bars of tinted gold.  We have also seen Leontine watch, with square chatelaine chains, bars, slides, and locket, superbly enriched with flowers in gold of four colors.

Providence Athenaeum

Providence Athenaeum

Sunday, March 4, 2012

We're Going to Jackson

City Hall with a statue of, who else, Andrew Jackson
Well, we went to Jackson.  It was great!  The last but certainly not the least stop on this whirlwind tour of the South.  Some amazing things to see in Jackson.

The Old Capitol
The Medgar Evers' House--he was shot and killed in his driveway the early morning of June 12, 1963 after coming home from a meeting with NAACP lawyers.  He was the field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi, helped African-Americans register to vote and was carrying t-shirts that read "Jim Crow Must Go" when he was shot by Byron de la Beckwith, a White Citizens' Council member and later member of the KKK.  Beckwith was not successfully convicted until 1994.  The house tells an important part of the story of the broader civil rights struggle and bears witness to the violence and sacrifice of that struggle in Mississippi.

Not far from Evers' house is the house of one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, Eudora Welty.  After Evers' assassination, Welty wrote the story "Where Is The Voice Coming From" as a response.  The story is told by a white racist assassin who kills an NAACP worker in a Mississippi town called Thermopylae.  It appeared in the New Yorker on July 6, 1963.

Welty's house and gardens are kept just as they were when she lived there--she moved in with her family in 1925 and was there until her death in 2001.  Her niece, Mary Alice, was there when I visited and I had the great pleasure of meeting her, as well as my guide Michael and the staff of the house.  It was a wonderful visit and I was really warmly received.

And the camellias were all blooming!  They are gorgeous--the gardens are kept much as they were by Welty herself, an avid gardener.

Okay, these are azaleas, no?
These are camellias!

And last but far from least of my day in Jackson was a visit to the amazing Lemuria Books!  I would have brought Clovis, too, but it was in the 80s and I didn't want to leave Clovis in the car (you understand).  They were missing Clovis, though, so I promised to bring him next time.  Huge thanks to Anna, Claire, Maggie, Joe and everyone else at the beautiful Lemuria Books in Jackson for a great event!  Anna at Lemuria's father photographed Welty's garden, it turns out, for this amazing book that is worth checking out for gardening fans!

Now, this is a lot of books!
And here is young Clovis, ready to hit the road back to Providence early the next morning!