Shifting Garment Styles, 1750-1790: What Research and Sketching Have in Common

Historical research is like sketching. You begin with a few pieces of data, allowing you to make some bold strokes on a piece of white paper. You identify what sorts of primary resources will improve that image, and it redirects … Continue reading

The Historic Fabric of Philadelphia: James E. Taylor’s Sketchbook

Using Winterthur’s online collections resources last night, I stumbled onto James E. Taylor’s sketchbook of historic buildings in Philadelphia. A newspaper illustrator, Taylor sketched historic buildings in Philadelphia’s Old City area in 1861, just before most of the structures in … Continue reading

Runaway Scavenger Hunt

In researching the lives of indentured and enslaved women during the 18th century, I’m trying to rebuild their communities, to better understand their lives. See my article ‘Had on When She Went Away . . .’: Expanding the Usefulness of Garment Data in American Runaway Advertisements 1750–90 … Continue reading

Runaways Online!

I found out this week (thanks Ms. H) that you can see the entire text of “Had on When She Went Away: Expanding the Usefulness of Garment Data in American Runaway Advertisements: 1750-90” first published in Pasold Research Fund’s journal … Continue reading

Variety Among the 18th Century Lesser Sorts

As part of my research on 18thcentury working class clothing, I have been studying indentured and enslaved female servants who immigrated to the American colonies. I created a database that now houses records for 1000 women and their 6000 garments.  Runaway … Continue reading

Names of the Forgotten – Runaway Clothing Database Project

The Runaway Clothing Database project uses newspaper runaway advertisements to catalog the garments of indentured and enslaved women in the American colonies from 1750-1790. These advertisements are often the only glimpse of these women in the documentary record. Personal information, such … Continue reading

Following Eleanor Ferrell: A Runaway Indentured Servant

New: see the full article online here. If it doesn’t come up, go to the home page and search again. Abraham Emmit labeled her “an ill natured, scolding, cursing, swearing, thieving servant Woman. I’ve been following Eleanor Ferrell began during my … Continue reading

Hike up your woolen undies: A Treatise on the Propagation of Sheep

Baa. Cool it, already. John Wily wrote the motivational pamphlet A Treatise on the Propagation of Sheep, the Manufacture of Wool, and the Cultivation and Manufacture of Flax, with Directions for making several Utensils for the Business in Williamsburg, VA, … Continue reading

Downton Abbey is Hot – Now for some real servants.

I fully expect Masterpiece Classic’s Downton Abbey to inspire the costume choices of many next Halloween (see my post on Downton Halloween costumes). Dr. V and I clung to the compelling story lines from above and below stairs every Sunday evening. … Continue reading