The Pragmatism of a Baltimore Fireman's Uniform

July 8th 2016

In 1965, Mr. William A. Lenz donated his father’s fireman’s uniform to the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS). George Alexander Lenz, who died in September of 1922 at the age of forty-two, worked at the Engine House Number Seven at the corner of Eutaw Street and Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore…


Peg-Top Clothing: An Evening Gown

July 8th 2016

While searching through Pratt House looking for new treasures, we decided to pull more boxes containing garments dating to the 20 th century. One box I spotted was labeled “1910s Evening Gowns” and when I looked inside, I was in awe of the brilliant colors and silks. Laying on top…


Children’s Jackets: A Special Look at Velvet

July 8th 2016

In the last few weeks we have been processing boxes containing  children's garments.  These garments were often stored with up to twenty objects in a box, separated by only a sheet of tissue.  Among these items were several velvet coats and suit jackets.


Baby Got Bustle: Victorian style of the 1880’s

July 8th 2016

This week, we rehoused a young girl’s blue and white pin-striped two-piece dress which features a puffed back line to insert a bustle. The size of the two-piece dress suggests it was for a young girl who was probably about 10 to 12 years old.


Corset Covers: Protection Against Soiling and Indecency

July 2nd 2016

Throughout the course of this past week, we have processed quite a number of petticoats and corset covers. When these undergarments were stored in Pratt House in the past, at least twenty of these textiles were packed one on top of the other in a single box – a testament…


Tyvek: the new duct tape

July 1st 2016

New this summer for the Costume Collection project at MdHS is the use of Tyvek for making stuffed tubes or pillows called “sleeves,” “pant legs,” and “snakes.” Previously, this material was used strictly for the making of “slings"- lengths of Tyvek sheeting that articles of clothing would be placed on…


Upcycling in Fashion

June 25th 2016

As the costume collection rehousing project continues, we find new and amazing articles of clothing each day. While bringing in more of the collection, we came across two amazing and show-stopping pieces, a bright salmon colored bodice and shift dress.


Andrew Cross Trippe: Bringing a Uniform to Life

June 25th 2016

When opening one of the old, deteriorating cardboard boxes inhabiting Pratt House, we are always in awe of what we uncover. At first, our senses immediately begin to observe the garment’s structure, fabric, flaws or previous repairs, and any quirky details that help us narrow down a date for when…


A lace in the fabric of history: A brief history of lace

June 25th 2016

The sixteenth century marks the beginning of lace popularity. Although lace-like textiles had been used for centuries, what we now regard as lace originated in the early sixteenth century (Lace Guild). By the seventeenth century, lace-making had spread throughout Europe as trade and immigration introduced new lace-making techniques to women…


Before Halloween: examining a fancy dress

June 21st 2016

While inspecting a child’s gown created between 1880 and 1885 I began to realize that there were inconsistencies in style and in the textile. It soon became obvious that this was a so-called ‘fancy dress.’ Fancy dress is similar to the contemporary concept of Halloween costume, but was worn during…


Clothes Tell Stories: Reuse and Recycle

August 24th 2015

The internship has officially come to a close. The past couple of weeks were focused on prepping mannequins for display, giving our talks, and processing as many items as we could. For this week's post I've decided to look exclusively at a few garments to understand their personal stories.


All Dressed Up: Preparing Dresses for Display

August 24th 2015

In the last couple of weeks we've taken a break from processing objects to prepare some dresses for display in the Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War Exhibit.  Though we wished we had time and space to do more, we prepared four women's dresses and two children's dresses.  When preparing garments for display, each…


Looking Underneath the Dress

August 19th 2015

Over the course of this summer while working on the rehousing project, we have processed a variety of amazing garments. Each costume is beautiful in its own unique way, from a dress worn to the court of Emperor Napoleon III to gorgeous sequined flapper dresses from the 1920’s.


Ornate Asia: Opulence and Identity

August 17th 2015

Over the summer, it seemed like everyday we were surprised at what was found. However, nothing surprised me more than an unusual box marked “Oriental Costume” found a couple of weeks ago. Each of the objects in the box seemed to identify with a different Eastern culture.


An Update on Arsenic Green: When the World was Dying for Color

August 17th 2015

In my second blog post of the summer, I discussed the copper arsenic green pigments that I suspected had been used to color at least a few of the garments in the MdHS collection.  Since then I've done a lot more research and finally tested those garments for traces of arsenic.…