Costume & Culture Exhibition

 
2020 Excerpts from the docent notes, 
room by themed room

Brooks Brothers Gallery

The Gatsby Era

American Dress to the 1850s

American Dress 1860 to the 1910s

The Shirtwaist

Sports and Uniforms

Yachting, Lingerie Dresses, Feathers & Fur

The Boudoir

A Century of Wedding Dresses

April 29, 2020

Brooks Brothers Gallery

 

An excerpt from the docent tour:

We begin in the early 1800s, when New York City was a flourishing hub. Immigrants had arrived from various countries, and here on Cow Neck, the Dutch and the English were the predominant settlers. They, as all groups, brought their culture and their clothing with them.

 

All during the 1800s our port of New York City bustled with ships delivering a variety of imports and talented craftsmen. The ships that arrived were also filled with sailors who frequented the hundreds of shops in New York City. There were shops that sold goods of all types, from household needs to clothing stores. The early department stores included Lord & Taylor (1826) and Arnold Constable (1825).

 

The elite men’s clothing store of both domestic and imported goods was Brooks Brothers, founded in 1818, now the oldest surviving clothing store in our country. The founder was 45 year old Henry Sands Brooks, son of a doctor. He set up shop at the corner of Cherry and Catharine Streets, near the East River with all of its seamen, with a reported $17,000 investment. Cherry Street was already known as the street of the first White House, where President Washington lived from 1789 to 1790.

 

“Records of the house show that Henry broke with tradition on almost every score when he pioneered in the clothing trade. Bolts of fabrics were available for selection for made-to-order clothing, and ready-made clothing was stacked on tables and was hung at the open windows.

There was one custom of the times that Henry followed religiously. Whenever an able seaman purchased an outfit, Brooks, like all other clothing merchants, would reach behind the counter and offer him a deep draught of rum on the house.​"

Check out the Brooks Brothers Gallery 360-Panotour here!

 

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May 6: The Gatsby Era

The Gatsby Era

An excerpt from the docent tour:

"The Great Gatsby" (2013) movie, with costumes made by Brooks Brothers, clearly showed that the 1920s were very different times. World War I had just ended and people wanted to celebrate. The 1920s saw Prohibition enacted and speakeasies appeared in basements and back rooms. The Women’s Suffrage Movement that started after the Civil War finally saw fruition. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1920 and women now had the right to vote. It was the Jazz Age. Opulent luxury and a privileged lifestyle flourished on Long Island’s Gold Coast. It was the Gilded Age for art and culture.

 

”Displayed are two costumes from the award-winning film, a formalwear ensemble that would have been right at home at one of Jay Gatsby’s famous lavish parties, and a more casual day outfit, appropriate for tea at Daisy’s house in the fictional East Egg...also known as Sands Point.”  - Brooks Brothers

 

Our dresses are intricately beaded in elaborate patterns, or laced, fringed, or fur-lined. Women of the day cut off their long hair and “bobbed” it close to the chin. They started wearing cloche hats, fitted to the head. The Roaring ‘20s were complete with “flappers,” and silent screen star Clara Bow was the epitome of the new era. These free-spirited flappers smoked and drank, and danced and drove. They wore rouge and lipstick, and hemlines scandalously went above the knee in 1926!

 

Coco Chanel’s baubly costume jewelry was extremely popular. She started the trend with a pair of pearl earrings, one white and one black. The Japanese had recently invented the process of cultured-pearls which were affordable to many, unlike the natural pearls available only to the very wealthy. Art Deco style and a fun “anything goes” attitude reigned.            

 

Our sideboard is set up as a bar. Despite it being Prohibition, liquor was served in homes and at parties by many. Numerous cocktails were concocted at this time to cover up the harsh taste of the bathtub gin. We have a bar menu out showing a few of the many new cocktails being offered.

 

The Roaring Twenties tragically ended with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, along with banks, Wall Street, factories, and the way of life as we knew it. Investors lost $16 billion. 14 million people lost their jobs. The Great Depression saw hunger and devastation everywhere. No longer was the flippant manner of the Roaring ‘20s possible.

The 1920s were undoubtedly a new era of fashion. Next week we’ll begin to take a look at how this Roaring ‘20s flapper style evolved.

Check out the 360-Panotour here

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May 13

American Dress to the 1850s

 

An excerpt from the docent tour:

The American Revolution (1765-1783) halted trade which directly affected our clothing. All trade with Britain stopped, and other countries were coerced to discontinue trade with us as well. 

This meant that when men went to war, their wives or mothers had to sew their jackets, shirts, and breeches, and knit their stockings, hats, and gloves. They wove their blankets and made their candles and their soap for washing clothes. They packed up food, and some of them followed their husbands with pots and pans, and babies, to cook along the way.  Soldiers were forced to wear their clothing until it turned to rags, and as their shoes were worn through they bound their bloody feet. 

We began to hand sew all our clothing from fabric either recycled repeatedly or processed from flax, cotton, and wool. Our country focused on independence and frugality. Items normally purchased were no longer affordable. It is reported that at this time a pair of ladies gloves cost $7, and a yard of gauze, $24. This is equivalent to over $500 today. 

America did not have silk at hand, but cotton became a big industry. Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793 produced in one day what a person could clean in one year.

Cotton was grown in the southern states where many southern slaves were taken out of the tobacco fields and put to work carding, spinning and weaving. But slavery actually grew as cotton planting became profitable. Processing took place in mills in New England, giving tens of thousands of people work. By 1840 we were producing over 60% of the world’s cotton.

Historically, both American and English women watched the style of the French. The French Revolution (1789-99) caused the French women to stop wearing 5’ wide panniers (side-bustles), corsets, and their close to 2’ high hair. By the end of the 1700s, women wore Empire-style dresses in a Greek Classical style. War simplified fashion.

In the early 1800s a more fitted bodice was introduced by using “gores”, panels of fabric sewn together – using less fabric without gathers or pleats. Women’s waistlines reached their tiniest  with very wide skirts. By the 1830s dresses became corseted with puffed leg-of-mutton or “gigot” sleeves. Our gold dress with gigot sleeves was also designed to be 8” off the ground, a style unusual for its time that didn’t last long.

 

Sewing machines, invented by Elias Howe in 1846, and upgraded with a foot treadle by Isaac Singer in the 1850s, revolutionized the fashion industry. A button-hole machine followed. Dress makers and tailors jumped on these novelties, followed by many women. A sewing machine was costly at $70, but by 1871 half a million sewing machines were produced annually. 

Mme. Demorest developed paper dress patterns in 1859, and later opened a fashion shop, selling millions of patterns. They were so popular that in 1863 Ebenezer Butterick began competing with her. 

Chemically produced dyes for cloth allowed material to become more colorful. This was a major breakthrough, as previously, for example, one had to boil black walnuts to get brown dye. To get blue dye, one had to boil indigo in a pot of urine, let it sit for weeks, and add yeast. Not only did the process stink, but the material smelled after washing. 

Dress patterns allowed all women to make a garment of the same style, regardless of class. Outfits in stores or fashion magazines, or on other women, were easily copied. The differences now became the quality of tailoring and the selection of fabric and trimmings.
 

Check out the American Dress to the 1850s

360° Panotour here!

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May 20

American Dress 1860 to the 1910s

An excerpt from the docent tour:

By the 1850s skirts were at their widest. In this exhibition, we were unable to display the skirts at their fullest as they wouldn’t have all fit in the room. Their size prevented women from sitting in carriages – on long trips they had to sit on the floor. They could barely walk two abreast in town, and you can imagine what happened when it was breezy. 

 

The Civil War (1861-65) changed everything. The North blockaded ships carrying goods into the Southern ports. The sale of cotton virtually stopped, both at Southern production and Northern processing. Clothing had to be recycled, repurposed and repaired. Southern women couldn’t find clothing, certainly not affordable clothing, anywhere. Women were making hats out of cornhusks and straw and decorating them with dried flowers. And most of us remember Scarlett O’Hara wearing a beautiful dress made from her family’s green velvet draperies.

 

Women during the Civil War, women on both sides, had to maintain life when the men went off to fight. There were farms and plantations and businesses to run. And then many of these women had to keep working after the war, when the men never came home and the slaves and servants were gone. They couldn’t be milking the cows and chopping the wood with hoops on. 

 

The big skirts had to go.

 

But there was a glitch in this design simplification after about a decade. Why? The aftermath of war. The Reconstruction Period after the Civil War led to all things feminine and elaborate. 

By the end of the following decade the skirt’s fullness got pushed to the rear as a bustle. Decorative shirring was made easy with a sewing machine. Evening dresses could have 70 yards of trimmings.  New synthetic dyes, first invented in 1856, introduced a variety of colors to the wardrobe palette. Women bedecked themselves in jewelry and they curled their hair. Delicacy was an admired trait and make up was not acceptable. 

Parasols kept a complexion pale in accordance with fashion’s decree, and it was safer than following the trend of ingesting chalk or arsenic for a wan appearance. This fashionable accessory, made with all types of fabrics and materials, then was made smaller in size to be used dramatically. 

Elite stores had been located on Broadway. Now, beautiful homes and townhouses were being built on Fifth Avenue, the new chic spot all the way up to Central Park. The very wealthy women wanted to be dressed by Paris, and either sailed over to shop or went to the new Parisian showrooms popping up in New York City. Europeans sent over all the latest styles, some dressed onto dolls, and those fashions were adapted to the American way of life.

 

Women that worked in their home or outside of the house were unable to maneuver in many of the most outré fashions, however, and required less restrictive clothing to allow them to move about more freely. Again, clothing became more simplified for working. Subsequently women followed this path to a style of dress that granted them an ease of movement that suited all. 

 

The 1890s dresses of the Edwardian era were hourglass in shape. Tiny waists and flared skirts prevailed. The Gibson Girl was born: an illustration of a natural looking woman with shirtwaist and skirt, and hair piled on her head under a boater. This “natural” look was achieved by the use of very tight monobosom corsets which forced women into an s-shape. The pale complexion so desired earlier in the century was now replaced by a healthy glow. 

 

After the turn of the century clothing had a more tailored look, and towards 1920 a softer look prevailed. 

Check out the 360-Panotour here

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May 27

The Shirtwaist

An excerpt from the docent tour:

 

A cultural revolution was now underway. New time-saving machines and opportunities allowed housework and chores to get done more quickly. No more hand beating batter for 45 minutes or dragging the rugs outside to be beaten. In the 1870s electricity was introduced in industry. The White House got electric lights in 1891, and other homes began to follow. Safer elevators brought the rise of skyscrapers.

Accordingly, women left their homes more frequently: to work, school, museums, recitals, for social causes, to travel, and play sports. Women were working in a number of professions, as teachers, in shops, in factories, with new job opportunities, as secretaries that “typed” (typewriter 1868) and as “telephone operators” (telephone 1876). Suitable outfits were required.

 

The shirtwaist, introduced in the 1890s, was the answer. Dresses and suits continued to be worn into the 1900s, but the shirtwaist and skirt became the unofficial day uniform. American women loved its easy care, retailers were thrilled and began to export them to Europe, where the couturiers were very displeased. American fashion designers began to garner more interest and the American fashion industry took a giant step forward.  

 

Shirtwaist production leapfrogged and by 1900 there were over 450 shirtwaist factories. The NYC garment factories employed tens of thousands of people. European immigrants were poor and starving for work, and would work for any pay, under any conditions. The factories required workers, even children, to work into the night, 7 days a week, with no bathroom breaks other than at a quick mealtime, and then with only one or two bathrooms available for hundreds. They were charged from their measly pay for their needles and thread and electricity. They were locked into cramped quarters and were frisked at the end of the day to prevent thievery. Factory workers perished from accidents and fires in these rampant sweatshops.

Union sympathizers had a hard time getting the factory workers organized with the polyglot of languages but they did it. The factory worker’s strike lasted through the winter from November 1909 to February 1910 with over 20,000 people involved. The women persevered despite their great need for an income to feed their families, but they were mostly ignored by the general public. The factory owners hired thugs to beat the women and had them arrested. Financier J.P. Morgan’s daughter Anne took notice of their plight and enlisted Alva Vanderbilt Belmont to come to their aid. These elite socialites made a difference. The police were not about to arrest them. 

 

Legislation for improved safety conditions was finally enacted, but it didn’t translate to better working conditions for many. In 1911, at the Triangle Waist Co. on Washington Place, which actually had improved conditions, fire broke out. 146 workers were locked in, mostly immigrant Jewish and Italian women. They either perished in the fire or jumped to their death, many afire. A temporary morgue was set up at the East River. People came to identify the dead; thousands came to pay their respects. Large protests were waged and people streamed into the streets. 

Several years after the Triangle fire, WWI broke out. The European fashion industry was hit hard when men went off to fight. American designers gained more stature during this time and when the war ended they were at the forefront of the industry. 

 

Women’s lives changed during WWI as they began to take on responsibility for everything the men gone to war had previously done. Women’s attire of shirtwaist and skirt became the daytime attire for women of all classes. Even wealthy women of leisure were donning well-designed tailor-made separate suits for their daytime attire. Silk was utilized, as wool was much needed for military uniforms and was no longer an option. Corsets went by the wayside, as the 8,000 tons of steel used in corsets now went to ammunitions production.  
 

Check out the 360-Panotour here

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June 3

Sports and Uniforms

An excerpt from the docent tour:

By the turn-of-the-century young women were enjoying participating in sports without being frowned upon. They were beginning to wear different styles for various activities. America’s mass production of clothing allowed our country to pave the way in active-wear design.

Automobile-driving outfits appeared in the 1890s for the new cars beginning to appear. Mass production of cars in 1900 led to several million cars by the end of the decade. Think of all the new automobile outfits required – oftentimes dusters for men and women, with women wearing ties, gloves and hats draped with chiffon veils to keep off the dust and mud. By the late teens a portable windshield was even devised to fit over a woman’s head as the cars had none. Waterproof fabrics were often used for the full, long coats. 

 

Baseball uniforms appeared in the 1870s, and soon looked much like they do today with their close-fitting knickers and shirt, and visored cap. Baseball mitts or gloves were not used in the early years, but stockings were: the “Cincinnati Red Stockings” was our first professional team. New games of basketball, volleyball, and figure skating were being devised for the first time.

 

In the late 1800s, women rode bicycles and played croquet and tennis. They walked and skated and did calisthenics. Regular street clothes without bustles and with higher hemlines were often worn for some of the sports, particularly cycling. 

 

Women went bathing at the beach, now at the same beaches men went to. Swim suit style was evolving. During the first half of the 1800s women wore weighty woolen bathing dresses with corsets underneath. Some ladies even weighted their hems so their skirts would not float up. 

 

In the 1860s 3-5 minutes spent in the seawater was deemed long enough for any health benefit according to physicians. But fortunately, late in the 1800s, scientists learned more about the cause of diseases, so bathing was able to take its place as a favored recreation. Now tunics with knee pants, stockings and mob caps were worn. And by the 1920s, swim suits were “tank suits” – a belted tank top and shorts worn with silk stockings and boots. Some beaches had patrols with measuring tapes to ensure a swimsuit could not be more than 6” above the knee. 

 

Bicycle riding became very popular, but long skirts that could get easily caught in the wheels were dangerous, so hemlines began to rise. Tandem bicycles brought even more controversy. Some said the woman should sit in front for the view; others said but then she would have to steer and that was too difficult for a woman. Doctors advised women to remove their corsets when riding, so perturbed corset manufacturers responded with “bicycle” corsets. Bloomers, originally causing controversy in the mid-1800s, made a new appearance. 

 

In 1896 the Olympics were reintroduced and women could not participate. They competed unofficially in tennis, golf and archery, and those sports became official for the 1908 games. Women’s figure skating had been added as an event in 1904, but the U.S. Committee would only allow women to participate in sports where they wore long skirts.

 

In war, all resources go to the military. Fabric usage was reduced in WWII, so bathing suits grew smaller. One tiny two piece suit was named after our South Pacific military site, Bikini Atoll. 

 

The use of leather, metal, rubber, and nylon was also reduced. Styles changed and limited hose, girdles, zippers and shoes. It all went into the production of uniforms, boots, military vehicles, and parachutes. Uniforms for women proudly joining the armed services became a booming business – they were required for nurses, Red Cross volunteers, and military jobs.

Check out the 360-Panotour here

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June 10

Yachting, Lingerie Dresses, Feathers & Fur

 

An excerpt from the docent tour:

 

Yachting was a big sport which encompassed America’s Cup racing and world cruising. Sands Point resident Alva Vanderbilt Belmont had two sons who participated in both. One son became a winning America’s Cup race, and the other travelled around the world on his motor yacht collecting specimens for his later Vanderbilt Museum.

Both big and small yachts were kept in our bay, with many of their owners joining the yacht clubs in the area. Port Washington Yacht Club was established in 1905, Manhasset Bay in 1891, and Knickerbocker Yacht Club was established in 1874 on the Harlem River and moved to Manhasset Bay in 1907. 

 

The photograph on the table shows a couple from 1906 on Manhasset Bay Yacht Club’s dock.  The newer Commodore’s uniform worn at Knickerbocker Yacht Club that is on display didn’t change much in style over the decades. The lady accompanying the Commodore wears a c. 1900 white lawn lingerie dress, just as the woman in the tabletop photo did. 

 

Lingerie dresses were feminine daytime dresses based on chemises that were worn in the 1890s and 1900s by women of all ages. They evoked a feeling of Georges Seurat’s famous pointillist painting of a Sunday afternoon on the Seine. They were summer dresses for leisure activities made of lightweight white and pale cottons, easy to wash, and were ornamented with bands of lace and ribbons and bows. Slips of the same or a contrasting pastel color could be worn underneath and would have shown through. Parasols and hats adorned with flowers and feathers were added when going out. They were suitable for a summer garden party, a day at the races, or any promenade event.

 

These lingerie dresses were advertised in publications from the elite Harper’s Bazar to mail-order Sear’s, where you could buy the dresses, or the fabric and embroidered lace. Ready-made garments were advertised by Gimbel Brothers as “Girls’, Misses’ and Small Women’s White Dresses.” A 1909 Harper’s Bazar article noted, “The lingerie dress is one of the most vitally important items of the summer outfit,” and it went hand in hand with the shirtwaist. Part of their popularity was due to their ease of laundering.

Accessories, as always, were very important. We are showing a ‘Leather, Feathers & Fur’ corner.

 

These types of items were worn for warmth, fashion, or for fads, for example, a raccoon coat. Animal rights issues have greatly lessened the use of these items in our times. You may be interested in taking a look at some of the unusual pieces in the case that include a reptilian claw foot purse, fans, and ermine and fox stoles. 

 

Women’s hats, elaborately decorated with ostrich plumes and feathers, even topped with whole birds, were all the rage in the early 1900s. So many millions of birds were commercially slaughtered that some species faced extinction. As a result, the Audubon Society was founded in Boston in 1896, followed by Migratory Bird Acts passed in 1913 and 1918.
 

Check out the 360-Panotour here

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June 17

The Boudoir

 

An excerpt from the docent tour:

 

PETTICOATS - In the 1800s women wore petticoats to give their skirts fullness. Up to six petticoats were worn in daytime and a full dozen could be worn for evening wear. They were hot, heavy, and cumbersome. In 1850, hoop crinolines were devised of steel rings and cotton tape. 

 

DRAWERS - Lightweight and comfortable, they still had one problem in this modest time. When one sat down, one’s skirts swung up in front. This is when women began to wear underwear – drawers – but women’s drawers had no crotch as they couldn’t manage pulling them up and down under the hoops. These drawers became known as pantalets. 

 

CORSETS - Uncomfortable corsets were worn. Doctors had discussed the detriments of them to women’s health, to the bones and the organs, but fashion dictated the day. Women couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, their ribs overlapped, they were in severe pain. Women were warned of pulmonary and heart disease, and even of insanity, and there were recorded cases of women dying due to too tight corsets. Yet, still they wore the tight corsets, sometimes succumbing to ointments such as Omega Oil with its oil of wintergreen and camphor for the pain. 

 

MONOBOSOM - When the Gibson Girl persona arrived in the 1890s, gone were the bustle and hoop. Corsets and petticoats were still required to achieve an hourglass figure, but this was achieved by “health” corsets that were designed by a woman with medical training to allow women to breathe more easily when corseted. The effect was of a one-piece bosom, known as a monobosom. They also often had concealed pockets for lavender sprigs or other fragrant herbs or perfumes, much as the bodices of dresses did.

 

MODERNIZING - When shirtwaists were replaced by loose over-blouse tunic tops, and a less fitted corset could be worn, a bra became necessary. However, magazines showed brassieres being worn on top of the camisoles. Rubber yarns became woven into foundation garments – and new lightweight rubber girdles replaced corsets. 

 

FANS had great popularity. The manner in which one was held gave signals to others. Little notes were often on the insides of the fans, like cheat sheets, for dance steps or whatever was needed. Handling the fan was most important, and could signify a demure or a flirtatious nature. A fan stroking a cheek sent a message of love, and the fan to the lips invited a kiss. 

 

MEN wore muffs on their hands. Men also wore corsets and padding, and capped it all off with a top hat. They turned in their short breeches for long, tight pantaloons with foot straps and their light color was set off by new short dark waistcoats and tailed coats. Styles were suited for specific activities. Men traveling on trains slept in Pullman cars in “pajamas”, a novelty of Chinese or Indian design, so they did not have to walk about in their nightshirts.

 

BIG HAIR went in and out with the fashion for both men and women. Wealthy men wore tall wigs in the 1700s, and were lucky because they could remove them. Wealthy women, on the other hand, could not, and wore these 2’ high hairdos for weeks on end. The height of the hair could be dangerous. One woman visiting George Washington stepped to close to the chandelier and the ostrich plumes decorating her hair caught fire.  Men stopped wearing their wigs later in the 1700s, and instead both sexes began to oil and powder their hair. 

 

MENS’ COLLARS - In the second half of the 1800s men’s celluloid-lined cuffs and collars could be purchased. Celluloid was often used to replace items made of ivory or horn, such as hat pins, buttons and buckles. A “Prince Albert” coat featured a stand-up collar and was advertised for doctors, lawyers and clergymen. After the turn of the century it was used mainly by clergy. 
 

Check out the 360-Panotour here

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June 24

A Century of Wedding Dresses

An excerpt from the docent tour:

We are pleased to present a selection of wedding dresses spanning a full century that were worn or donated by our area’s residents. All but the latest one is from our CNPHS Collection.

The silhouettes of the dresses have changed remarkably over the century following the fashion of the day. Just as women do today, women in the past wore a variety of different styles based on taste, budget, formality, religion, and ethnicity. Our ever-growing multi-cultural society and freedom in fashion continue to introduce us to new styles and traditions. 

 

When Queen Victoria married in 1840, she broke away from convention in her choice of dress. She left behind the traditional gowns elaborately woven of silver threads, and chose instead an ivory gown with headdress of orange blossoms, depicting purity and fertility. Despite it not being regarded highly at the time, it influenced wedding gown fashion from that day on. 

Many brides did not have the means to choose a gown that was only to be worn once and had to plan their outfit more carefully. Wedding dresses were chosen for use after the wedding and also were often in colors other than white or ivory, such as blue or brown. 

 

Men broke away from fashion traditions as well. In the 1880s, Edward, the Prince of Wales, began to wear a more comfortable alternative to his stiff formal tailcoat. In 1886, American James Potter visited the Prince at his country estate. Mr. Potter admired the new formalwear so much that he had a jacket made for himself. He returned home and wore his new jacket to the elite resort of Tuxedo Park in New York. It was an instant hit, and furthermore was known as the “tuxedo”. 

 

Moving forward through the years are a variety of styles, from slim dresses with elaborate shawls or 5-1/2’ trains, to satin and chiffon, to velvet and fur with a 6’ train and a 9’ veil. Our final dress in the room, completing our century of wedding dresses, is a simple floral dress influenced by the culture of the 1960s and 1970s.These gowns were all worn in our area. 

 

Throughout the room are other items appropriate to weddings: 

Our intimate apparel located on our 4-poster rope bed includes a knitted silk jersey undershirt c. 1915; an early silk and lace brassiere from the 1920s, flat in shape; and camiknickers, that combined features of a camisole and knickers, to be worn under a shorter dress, or “as is” in the boudoir.

 

There is a wedding book describing the honeymoon trip, a ring-bearer’s heart-shaped pillow, and an oval hand-painted bride’s box from c. 1800. There are delicate orange blossom tiaras, wedding fans, a tiny wedding shoe with sachet as a favor, and local marriage certificates from the 1800s. 
There are two large Quaker marriage certificates, framed, hanging on the doors of the room. The Quaker marriage certificates, signed by all present at the wedding, were often hung in a place of prominence in the home. They were reminders of their declarations and of all those present.    

 

These two certificates are family certificates from this house. One is of Edmund Willets (1800-1875) who married Martha Whitson (1807-1883) on October 29, 1829. Edmund, a prominent Quaker and abolitionist, and Martha were married in a Quaker wedding ceremony at the Friends Meeting House in Westbury. This followed a meeting approving the couple’s intention, a public announcement, and approval by a clearness committee of their preparedness.

 

All attendees for the ceremony gathered at the meeting house in silent worship. Friends have no clergy; the couple would make their declarations when ready. All present would sign the marriage certificate as witnesses.  
In 1845 Edmund Willets purchased our Sands-Willets House that you are standing in, where he and his wife raised seven children. 
Edmund Willets and Martha Whitson Willets had 2 granddaughters, Eliza K. and Anna L. Willets, both of whom lived in this house that their grandfather purchased. Anna Willets married Edward M. Lapham, and the other Quaker marriage certificate is theirs, from their wedding on February 22, 1908. Their daughter, also named Anna Willets Lapham, depicted in a wedding photo on the wall, was married in the Willets garden outside wearing her grandmother’s wedding dress.

 

Note: To view these wedding dresses chronologically, start in the corner with the brown dress and travel in a clockwise direction. 

 
 

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COW NECK PENINSULA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

336 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington, New York 11050
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