Fun with Fraktur – Women’s Dress in a Drawing from Winterthur Museum

I’m not a Pennsylvanian German scholar, but I love considering the depiction of 18th century dress in the ebullient art form of fraktur. What is real? What is fancy? Can we trust depictions of women when they hold gargantuan sprigs … Continue reading

What I’ve Been Reading: Buying Into A World of Goods by Ann Smart Martin

Read this great book on 18th century commerce in the backwoods of Virginia. Ann Smart Martin’s Buying into the World of Goods: Early Consumers in Backcountry Virginia is incredibly readable (and available on Kindle to boot! Or in full at … Continue reading

Working with the Dixon Ledgers, Port Royal, Virginia

My personal research focuses on the dress of indentured and enslaved servant women from 1750-1790. While I was in DC for work recently, I was able to slip over to the Library of Congress for a couple of hours and … Continue reading

A Very Scary Moment in a Dark Alley: Trashing a Disney Princess Kitchen

I was scooting through my apartment building’s basement (a wonder in systems and architecture) on my way to pick up a package at the Super’s Office. My path crosses an alleyway in our complex where trash is collected prior to … Continue reading

Connecting the Dots: Convict Servants in Maryland

Eddie Izzard puns on the Church of England: “Cake or Death?” For people found guilty of committing small crimes in England, transportation to the American colonies for seven to fourteen years of bound servitude was the cake option. Overcrowding in England’s … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday: Crinolines and Omnibuses

It was the 1850s. Skirts were big. Transportation, not so much. Prior to elevated railways, streetcars, and subways, mass transit meant the omnibus, a horse-drawn wagon, often enclosed. Crinolines (hoop skirts) gave lampoonists of the mid-19th century ample tongue-wagging material. … Continue reading

Curious Objects: Portrait Collages at the National Portrait Gallery

I was killing time before my talk for the Washington Conservation Guild on February 7. The old Patent Office serves as the home to two Smithsonian Institution museums, the National Portrait Gallery, and the American Art Museum. The Patent Office … Continue reading

(Music Plays) Lydia, The Tattoed Lady – An eighteenth century woman’s tattoo

The New Yorker Photo Booth blog highlighted tattoed women and a book about them Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo by Margot Mifflin (1997). The photograph of Maud Wagner caught my eye, my first perception of a Gibson … Continue reading

Wildlife Sighting at Airport Restaurants

I had extra time to kill in the airport on Friday night. My flight fell right over the dinner hour and I’d had an early lunch. Airport offerings are hardly lauded (Food and Wine Magazine did do an article on … Continue reading

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