Tag Archives: fashion history

Fashion Moments – Detachable Collars

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to detachable collars.

The Detachable Collar

According to the Arrow shirt website, in the 1820s, Hannah Montague formulated the idea to remove the collars from her husband’s shirts for ease of laundering. Soon after, Ebenezer Brown and Hannah’s husband, Orlando Montague, began manufacturing collars in the back of Rev. Brown’s general store in Troy, New York [1]. There are many conflicting accounts of what happened next from various sources. However, the city of Troy became the leading manufacturer of detachable collars during the nineteenth century. By 1897, twenty-five companies based in Troy were making over eight million dozens of collars and cuffs per year. [2].

Leyendecker_arrow_color_1907

Arrow Collar advertisement, 1907, illustrated by Joseph C. Leyendecker (Image from Wikipedia in the public domain).

Detachable collars were typically made of a material different from the shirt, from cotton to linen, and were made in only one color – white. Because they were detachable, the collar could be starched to a cardboard-like rigidity. While most detachable collars were made of starched fabric, some later collars were actually made of stiffened paper and were disposable after a few uses. Collars were attached to the shirt with a set of studs, one in front and another in back. Examples of different collar styles can be found in old catalogs. Though typically marketed to men, detachable collars were also used by women, especially during the era of the Gibson girl. By the 1920s, the use of detachable collars began to decline as more comfortable styles of clothing became popular. However, the fashion can still be seen today in the winged collars of British barristers and on rare occasion on the pupils of Eton College. [3]

Woman Worker making Arrow Collars, 1906

Woman worker making Arrow collars, 1906Source

Source

[1] ArrowLife, website (http://www.arrowlife.com/heritage : accessed 28 November 2015), “Heritage” page. Some sources say Hannah had her brilliant idea in 1820, while others state 1827.

[2] SuitYourself.com, website (http://suityourself.com/History_Of_Dress_Shirts.asp : accessed 28 November 2015).

[3] “Some Notes on Dress at Eton College,” Internet Archive Wayback Machine (http://web.archive.org/web/20081011175000/http://www.archivist.f2s.com/bsu/Miscellany/eton/eton-notes.htm : accessed 28 November 2015), anonymous article by an Eton pupil, October 2008.

Further Reading

Amazon Drygoods (a completely different company than Amazon, and has been around a lot longer, too!) is the only remaining manufacturer, according to their website, of detachable collars. In my theatre days, we regularly ordered detachable collars from them. They still have a variety of collar styles available for purchase on their website.

An comprehensive blog article about the Arrow Collar Man and its illustrator Joseph C. Leyendecker. The Arrow Collar Man was such a huge marketing sensation that many women thought he was real. The book The Girl on the Magazine Cover by Carolyn Kitch states, “Cluett, Peabody & Company, the firm that made Arrow Collars, received on average of 17,000 letters per month from women writing to the Arrow Collar Man, some of them proposing marriage.” In contrast, Dayneford’s Library: America’s Homosexual Writing, 1900-1913 by James Gifford takes note of Leyendecker’s indifference to women in his Arrow Collar Man illustrations, thereby making them the “first American representations of gay sensibility to gain wide distribution.”

A history of the Arrow brand can be downloaded from the website American’s Greatest Brands:  http://www.americasgreatestbrands.com/volume11/pdf/AGB_Arrow_v11.pdf

Blog article, “Detachable Collar & Tunic Shirt,” from the Morning Dress Guide website.

Working Women of Collar City: Gender, Class and Community in Troy, 1864-86 by Carole Turbin

Troy: A Collar City History by Don Rittner

Images

Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Woman Worker Making Arrow Collars, United States, 1906.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed November 28, 2015.

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/11/29/fashion-moments-detachable-collars/

Fashion Moments – Zipper

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the zipper.

Zipper

Elias Howe (the inventor of the sewing machine) patented a device in 1851 called a “fastening for garments.” It bears a resemblance to a zipper although there are key differences in the design. Howe did not market his patent and it took another forty years for this early seed to grow.

Howe fastening for garments, 1851

Howe’s 1851 patent

The idea of the modern zipper began in the mind of Whitcomb L. Judson (1846-1909), an inventor from Chicago. The majority of Judson’s work (and fourteen of his patents) were related to street cars. Most of his inventions were impractical. After several unsuccessful attempts to produce and operate his pneumonic street cars, the project was scraped and the cars were converted to electricity. With the failure of his street car venture, Judson turned to “clasp-lockers.” In 1890, Judson invented the device which would eventually evolve into the modern zipper. This early version was used primarily in shoes although it was not wildly successful. It is believed that Judson turned to “clasp-lockers” because he was tired of fastening his high buttoned shoes. Between 1890 and 1893, Judson submitted multiple versions of his “clasp-locker” patent. The final design was approved and it was debuted at the 1893 Chicago’s World’s Fair. Overall, Judson received limited success with his “clasp-locker”. Ultimately, the “clasp-locker” was never used by clothing manufacturers and remained a fixture for boots and shoes. [1]

001_Sundback_zipper_1917_patent

Sundback’s 1917 patent

After the death of Whitcomb L. Judson in 1909, Gideon Sundback continued to improve upon Judson’s 1905 patent. Sundback was the head designer at the Universal Fastener company in Hoboken, New Jersey. After three years of review by the patent board, his design was approved in 1917. This “separable fastener” would later be known as the zipper. The term “zipper” would not be used until eight years later, in 1923, when B. F. Goodrich (the well-known American industrialist) coined the phrase while marketing a new type of rubber galoshes which used Sundback’s “separable fastener.” [2]

zipper

© 2015 Deborah Sweeney

In the 1920s, the zipper was used primarily for boots and tobacco pouches, not for clothing. It was not until the 1930s when the zipper made its debut in children’s clothing where it was marketed as a tool for promoting self-reliance thereby allowing children to dress themselves. By the end of the decade, zippers were regularly being used for trouser flies and the plackets of women’s skirts and dresses. [3]

Since the 1930s, zippers have evolved tremendously. They are used everywhere from deep space to undersea exploration and are constructed from various materials including metal and synthetic polymers. They are arguably the most common type of closure in use today.

Further Reading

A great tool for finding patents can be found at http://www.pat2pdf.org/Ancestry‘s database of patents only contains patents from 1790-1909. This tool allows access to any patent, as long as the patent number is known.

Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty by Robert D. Friedel. Available from Amazon.com or your local library.

Sources

[1] Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Whitcomb L. Judson,” rev. 17:55, 10 November 2015.

[2] Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Gideon Sundback,” rev. 17:55, 30 October 2015.

[3] Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Zipper,” rev. 04:48, 15 November 2015.

Images

The patents of Elias Howe, Jr. and Whitcomb L. Judson can be found in Ancestry.com‘s “U.S. Patents and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909” database.

Gideon Sundback’s 1917 patent can be found on Wikipedia, and is the public domain.

Zipper photograph by the author Deborah Sweeney

© 2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/11/15/fashion-moments-zipper/

Fashion Moments – Overalls

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to the humble overalls.

Overalls

One of the most ubiquitous articles of clothing may be overalls. It could be argued that this garment is the single most important piece of clothing in the working class wardrobe for the past few centuries. The consensus of research shows that the modern overalls evolved from an earlier garment called “slops.” However, “slops” were more like trousers than actual overalls. During the 1700s, only working class people wore long pants; a gentleman wore breeches. [1]

Carl Morris mural, 1942

Carl Morris mural, 1942-1943, Eugene (Oregon) Post Office. Commissioned by the WPA Federal Works Project

By the first part of the 19th century, the garment was beginning its evolution into what we would currently recognize as overalls. Up until the 1850s, overalls were homemade, sewn to fit the individual needs of the worker. Originally, the garment was a coverall, worn over another set of clothing for protection. Eventually, it became the worn-alone, bib fronted garment we identify as overalls today. U.S. patents from the late 19th century show a variety of “overalls” from specific occupations. For example, the illustration below shows a pair of overalls patented by Eli F. Stacy and John H. Stacy from Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1872. They were developed for fisherman, in an effort to “secure a smooth front, free of buckles, buttons, or straps where the cloth comes in contact with the rail of a vessel.”

Overalls patent, 1872 (fishermen)

Overall patent, 1872, for use by fishermen

Many patents advertised themselves as improvements to the overall. Two years later in 1874, Alfred Rosenburg of Bridgeport, Connecticut, patented a series of hooks and eyelets which made overalls adjustable “to fit persons of varying sizes.”

Overalls, patent 1874

Rosenburg’s 1874 patent

The exact date of the mass production of overalls is unclear, but many companies, such as Levi, Lee, Carhartt, and Oshkosh, began marketing overalls around 1900, although they may have been manufacturing them for several years or decades previously. [2] Overalls are unique in many ways because they have been marketed to men, women and children. They have been used as a patriotic tool in both world wars, as a symbol of everyone laboring for the common cause.

War Gardens for Victory

We like to think of our ancestors as dressing up for those rare photographic moments. For many of our ancestors, overalls were a wardrobe staple, a tool of their trade, their daily uniform. Below are a few examples of my ancestors being photographed around the farm as cameras became more accessible.

John H. Yegerlehner, wearing overalls on his farm, during the 1910s

Ralph and Raymond Yegerlehner on the farm in 1915

McCammon, Lydia & Jesse with Minerva Metcalf

Jesse & Lydia McCammon with Minerva Metcalf, haying in the 1910s

Further Reading

The History of Overalls from the Blair Mountain Reenactment Society

The Development and Use of Bib Overalls in the United States, 1856-1945, a masters thesis by Ann Revenaugh Hemken, Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa), 1993. This paper is amazing! I highly recommend it if you are interested in learning more about the history of overalls. 

Bib Overalls: From Farmwear to Fashion Icon

Documentary Connecting the Threads: Overalls to Art at the H.W. Carter Sons Factory. This 40 minute film tells the story of Henry Wood Carter of New Hampshire. He started as a traveling peddler, and later started an overall factory in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The old factory building is now an art center. There is some great history of the evolution of overalls at the beginning of the film.

A Detroit company, W.M. Finck & Co. produced overalls for the first half of the 20th century. The online encyclopedia of Detroit has a brief history of the company on their website.

Sources

[1] “The History of Overalls,” Blair Mountain Reenactment Society, 10 May 2011 (https://blairmountainreenactment.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/the-history-of-overalls/).

[2] Ann Revenaugh Hemken, “The Development and Use of Bib Overalls in the United States, 1856-1945,” 42-45.

Images

Carl Morris mural (1942-3) at the Eugene Post Office. WPA Federal Works Project competition winner, posted on the Oregon Secretary of State website.

Overall patent illustrations are from Ancestry.com‘s database “U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909.”

War Gardens for Victory. 1939-1945. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction no: LC-USZC4-4436

The photographs from the Yegerlehner farm courtesy of Karen Kline Brand. The photograph of Jesse and Lydia (Foster) McCammon with Minerva Metcalf courtesy of Geraldine McCarroll.

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/11/08/fashion-moments-overalls/

Fashion Moments – Jan Ernst Matzeliger

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to Jan Ernst Matzeliger.

“The fertile mind of Jan Ernst Matzeliger literally shod the world. Matzeliger invented a machine to mass produce shoes. It revolutionized the industry and transformed Lynn, Mass, into the shoe capital of the world. Before Matzeliger came along, the task of attaching the leather uppers to the sole was done by a costly and tedious hand process.” [1]

My own Massachusetts ancestors were heavily invested in the shoe trade. I have but to glance at a mid-nineteenth century census record to see just how much. One of the major industries in southeastern Massachusetts, especially in the area surrounding Brockton, was the shoe manufacturers. Albert Leonard and his wife Lucy were perfect examples. In 1860, Albert worked as a boot maker while Lucy was a boot fitter at a factory near their South Randolph (present day Holbrook) home. Their relatives and neighbors (who fill up the rest of the census page) worked in the shoe trade as well. They held jobs with titles such as boot fitter, heel maker, shoe fitter, and so on.

Leonard, Albert - 1860 census detail

Albert and Lucy Leonard, South Randolph, Mass., 1860 [2]

Jan Earnst Matzeliger

In the 1880s, the shoe industry changed because of Jan Ernst Matzeliger. A native of Dutch Guiana, he arrived in the United States in 1878. Settling in Lynn, Massachusetts, Matzeliger obtained a job at the Harney Brothers Shoe Company. Dismayed by the inefficiency of the shoe making process, he spent four years perfecting a machine that would take the place of human lasters. Previously, a skilled laster could complete 50 pairs of shoes in a ten-hour day. With Matzeliger’s invention, 150 to 700 pairs of shoes could be produced. The shoe industry experienced an economic boom and the cost of shoes were cut in half.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sadly, very little was written about Jan Ernst Matzeliger during his lifetime or in modern history books since he was a black immigrant. His father was a white engineer while his mother was a black slave. Initially an outsider in his adoptive hometown of Lynn, Matzeliger poured his soul into his inventions. He eventually contracted tuberculosis, and died at age 36, in 1889.

Jan_ernst_matzeliger

Jan Ernst Matzeliger (Image in the Public Domain from Wikipedia Commons)

Further Reading

Matzeliger applied for six patents in his lifetime. They can be found in the “U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909” database at Ancestry or by searching Google’s patent database. Follow the link to his first patent in 1883. The slideshow above shows the drawings from his 1883 patent.

Article on Jan Ernst Matzeliger on the Black Inventor Online Museum website.

Audio from episode 522 from Engines of Ingenuity, a radio program written and hosted by John Lienhard, and produced by Houston Public Media.

Find A Grave memorial for Jan Ernst Matzeliger.

Matzeliger’s 1889 will is available in Ancestry.com‘s “Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991.” The images of the will are below.

A rare article about Matzeliger in the newspaper The Colored American (Washington, D.C.), dated 14 November 1903 (p. 6, col. 6), states “…J.E. Matzeliger, who is said to be the pioneer in the art of attaching soles to shoes by machinery…”  The newspaper can be found on the Chronicling America website.

Sources

[1] “They Had A Dream,” The Fresno Bee (Fresno, California), 5 January 1969, p. 17-A, col. 1; digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 1 November 2015).

[2] 1860 U.S. Census, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Randolph, P.O. South Randolph, p. 43 (penned), dwelling 750, family 970, Albert Leonard.

Images

Boots, 1860-1869. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no: 2009.300.3003a–d

Boots, 1890-1895. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession no: 2009.300.4207a, b

©2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/11/01/fashion-moments-jan-ernst-matzeliger/

Fashion Moments – Ebenezer Butterick

Fashion Moments by Deborah SweeneyWelcome to my weekly fashion blog post. Each week I will discuss a female garment, fashion trend or influencer from the age of photography (1840s through the 20th century). My goal is to educate family researchers and genealogists about the clothing worn by our ancestors. Dating photographs is an issue we all struggle with as family archivists. Additionally, anyone who writes about their family’s history should be aware of the environment in which their ancestors lived. Period clothing is an important part of that environment from how it affects a person’s movement to their overall lifestyle. This week I introduce you to tailor and pattern maker, Ebenezer Butterick (1826-1903).

Ebenezer Butterick

Ebenezer Butterick was a tailor who lived in the western Massachusetts town of Sterling with his wife Ellen, a seamstress. The story begins in the winter of 1863 when Ellen was making a new dress for their young son. At that time, sewing patterns were sold in a single size and were mostly used as a guide. People had to increase or decrease the pattern’s size to suit their own individual needs. Mrs. Butterick commented to her husband that it would be so much easier if patterns came in graded sizes, and so the idea for the Butterick pattern company was born.

In the beginning, the Butterick company created patterns for men and boys. The early success of these graded patterns prompted the company to begin manufacturing patterns for women in 1866. The patterns became massively popular, especially for the middle and lower classes who could not afford to have custom-made clothing. Home sewers were now able to access the latest fashions from Paris with the convenience of receiving paper patterns in the mail (or at the local dry goods store).

Gallery

Fashion plates (below) from the November 1901 issue of The Delineator.

It is still possible to find vintage Butterick and Deltor patterns. I was fortunate to find these several years ago from the 1910s and 1920s.

Butterick

Vintage patterns from the author’s collecton

Further Reading

A more though and complete history of Ebenezer Butterick and his company can be found on the Butterick website.

Harvard University Library Open Collection Program, Women Working, 1800-1930, has several women’s magazines digitized including an issue of the Delineator (1901). The magazine began in the 1870s and featured Butterick’s patterns as well as the latest fashion advice. The Hathi Trust Digital Library gives a more thorough listing of existing digital copies of issues housed at Universities around the country. Issues date from the early 1900s through the 1930s.

An 1871 (Summer) Butterick pattern book on Internet Archive.

Not related to Butterick, I found an awesome website this week on how to date photographs from the University of Vermont. Not only does the website give dating advice for clothing and hair, but other items that might be found in photographs like buildings or cars are categorized as well.

Blog post from Diana Pemberton-Sikes titled How Ebenezer Butterick Changed the Face of Fashion on the website Fashion for Real Women.

Mabel Potter Daggett, “When the Delineator Was Young: The Story of the First Butterick Pattern and How it Multiplied,” Delineator, 76 (November 1910): 365-366. The article can be found online on Google books.

Several patents can be found for Butterick patterns in Ancestry.com‘s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909.

Delineator Butterick Advertisement

Advertisement from the Evening News (Ada, Oklahoma), 10 May 1909, p. 1. Image courtesy of Newspapers.com

Images

Quarterly Report of metropolitan fashions, Autumn 1891. Image from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, reproduction no. LC-DIG-pga-00425

E. Butterick & Co., quarterly report of New York Fashions, for Fall 1870. Image from the Library of congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, reproduction no. LC-DIG-pga-01506

Fashion plates from the November 1901 issue of the Delineator from the Harvard Univerity Library Open Collection.

Ellery Bicknell Crane, editor, Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts Memoirs with a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity (New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907), Volume I-II, 300-301. Digital images courtesy of Ancestry.com.

Image of Ebenezer Butterick from the blog post by Diana Pemberton-Sikes. I could not find the original source of this photograph.

Butterick, Ebenezer - Obituary, 1903

Brooklyn Daily Times (Brooklyn, New York), 1 April 1903, p. 3, col. 4. Image courtesy of Newspapers.com

© 2015 Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2015/10/04/fashion-moments-ebenezer-butterick/