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

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

Eighteenth Century for the Weekend

Last weekend, The Brigade of the American Revolution hosted an Authenticity Event at Don Carpentier’s Eastfield Village. A collection of two taverns, a store, a church, a doctor’s office, an assortment of shops, and a handful of houses were saved … Continue reading

Halloween Comes to Downton Abbey

I predicted in this post from April that people would be hot to trot for Downton Abbey influenced costumes this Halloween. True to form, a lot of readers have been finding my blog by searching on “downton abbey halloween costumes.” I’m … Continue reading

Transportation Tuesday: A Moment on the Baltimore and Ohio

I was inspired by this salted paper print from the 1850s of people posing for a photograph on a Baltimore and Ohio engine. I thought about the women in their stays and hoops, and wondered if they were boosted up … Continue reading

Museum Monday: Online Patterns of Eighteenth Century Garments from LACMA’s Collection

Speaking as a museum professional and a living history practitioner, what a great project. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s web page, conservators and curators worked with Thomas John Bernard, a theatrical designer, to create gridded patterns of … Continue reading

Nanny – A Servant Wager Cup

Online databases are incredible tools. While my museum career has mostly focused on textiles, dress, and ethnographic materials, I never know what is going to inspire me when I search mfa.org, metmuseum.org, emuseum.history.org (Colonial Williamsburg), and so forth. I’ve heard a … Continue reading

Hold the Tulle: I’m Anti-Princess

Manhattan is a special place, no doubt. I live on the Upper East Side in Yorkville, a formerly German and Czech community. I jokingly refer to the far east neighborhood as the “suburbs of Manhattan.” It’s not a scene. There … 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