Samuel Adams’s Mother Was a Fifield

Back in the early aughts, I was a Collection Care Specialist in Textiles and Fashion Arts (TFA) at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I was working on a National Endowment for the Arts grant to photograph and perform condition … Continue reading

Postpartum Depression and Witchcraft

If you have had a baby, you know the months afterward can be tough, and memorable. There are numerous explanations as to what lunacy gripped Salem Village (now Danvers) in 1692. Ergot poisoning. Adolescent girls seeking power. Class inequality. Disputes over … Continue reading

New Year’s Day – A Great Day to Run Away

Many of us choose some aspect of life to rejuvenate on the 1st of January. On a whim, I decided to reference my runaway servant research database to see how popular a day New Year’s Day was for running away. … Continue reading

Death By Green: Arsenic Poisoning

The Bata Shoe Museum’s current exhibition Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century exposes the dangers in the manufacture and wearing of many fashion trends of the past. One trend, a beautiful green dye used in the … Continue reading

Don’t Confuse Geisha and Courtesans (Oiran and Tayu)

It is apparent from my forays around Pinterest and the web that images of geisha and courtesans are often mislabeled. For those unfamiliar with subtleties in the styling and wear of kimono, obi, and traditional Japanese hairstyles, it can be … Continue reading

Infant Care 1762

Hello after a long pause! Many of my regular readers know we welcomed Mr. Spud in February and have been adjusting to being new parents. I’d like to ramp up with a bit more intermittent and shorter posts, as Mr. … Continue reading

Viennese Fashion, Winter c. 1910.

In my mind, the teens were among the most exciting in fashion, with inventive shapes, pattern, and a whole new silhouette in play. Renders all the black coat-wearing in Manhattan this time of year all the more hum-drum. … Continue reading

18th Century Convicts Marched from Newgate to the Port

Convicts made up one of the significant immigrant populations to the American colonies in the eighteenth century. But try locating an image that says “convict” if you are preparing a presentation. This image from The Newgate Calendar, a tabloid-like publication … Continue reading

George Frideric Handel and The London Foundling Hospital

The Messiah, written by George Frideric Handel in 1741 and first performed in Dublin before its launch in London, was originally meant for Easter. Many of us have attended the oratorio’s performance at Yuletide, a practice that gained popularity in … Continue reading

A Philadelphia Servant, 1787

  A pie lays broken in the street, a distraught servant teased by the chimney sweeps who caused her to drop it. She’s likely on her way back from the bakery to which her mistress sent the pie to be … Continue reading