Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

April 16th, 1864

High Dresses

We are thankful for at least one of the dame Fashion’s freaks: she has turned her back upon low-necked dresses, and rather insists that collar-bones and shoulder-blades shall be covered. It is certainly a great improvement – not only because the study of anatomy in private parlors is not desirable, and that American damsels are apt to run to bone as some tall flowers do to seed., and because spinsters of uncertain age, fearful of being outdone by the nieces, presented such vast expanse of yellow neck and shoulder to the view at evening parties as were calculated to alarm nervous people seriously; but because since custom obliges us to wear garments, there can certainly be no reason why we should leave the most delicate portion of our frame without protection. Plumb shoulders and arms are pretty. But so (let us whisper) are plump legs. The mother who should fail to provide her daughter with stockings would be considered a cruel wretch, yet a year ago she might neglect to cover her chest and arms with impunity. We trust this state of things is over. We hope that the wisdom which causes every prudent parent to protect the pretty shoulders of her little girls with comfortable woolen sacques or capes will be appreciated; that sense will conquer vanity, and that in a little while it will be as absurd to say a woman in a low-necked dress as it would to-day to see a man in low-necked coat. – Sunday Times.


Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

A Closer look at Straw Plait

Anna Worden Bauersmith:

I’m trying really hard to take a tech/internet vacation. But, I got a message that there is a plait discussion going on. This is an older blog post. I am in the midst of something far more indepth. (That’s all I can say right now.)

Originally posted on If I Had My Own Blue Box::

One of the most common mistakes in making a straw bonnet for living history or reenactment, is choosing a plait that is to wide and coarse. I will admit, I too made that mistake in the begining. We are often tempted and occasionally encouraged to use the straw from a craft bonnet for making a straw bonnet. Again, yes in the begining I did this. But, I’ve since learned and would like to advise you learn from my mistakes rather than wasting your time.

So, what is wrong with the straw from a craft hat from the craft shop? Most of them are to wide and to coarse. Occasionally, you can find narrower craft straw. But, not always. Take a look at the image below. A is a craft straw. It is 3/4″ wide. Some comes as wide as 1″. While there were wide straw strips used during the era…

View original 275 more words

Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 8:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Straw Plaits

A variety of straw plaits.

3mm split plait
5mm split plait
6-7mm split plait
6-7mm fine whole plait
8mm black whole plait

Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

The bonnet of drawn cuir-colored crepe, trimmed on the front with a fanchon of white lace, loops of green ribbon, and Scotch feathers. The inside trimming is of bright flowers, of the
Scotch colors. The cape is covered with a fall of white blonde. (Godey’s, May 1864)


Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

April 23rd, 1864

Working Dresses.

It is not my province to dictate any particular form of dress; but when, as is often the case, I see wives and daughters doing their necessary housework with crinoline and long skirts, or in other words, in full dress, I am led to inquire why will they not use their good judgment in this as in other particulars, and accommodate their dress to their duties.

Now, just take some of those long dresses that have become faded at the bottom and in front, take out the front breadths, leaving about five, tear off the bottom leaving the skirt long enough to come half way from the knees to ankle joints, use the parts taken out for pants, prepare skirts to suit the length of the dress, running “shurs” in one for three or four hoops from the discarded skeleton, and with good thick-soled shoes or bootees you are well, becomingly dressed for any and all kinds of work that may fall to your lot. And, if called to help fill the place of a father, husband, brother or son, who has nobly gone to the defence of his country, you have nothing to hinder you in this arduous yet noble extra toil. Such toil and such dresses show our hearts true to the interest of our country; and though the future looks dark, there is no way to make it light but to throw off the shackles false price and false delicacy have trammeld us with, prepare our heats for every trial by entire consecration to, and trust or faith in, God, our bodies with proper dress and care; and lay hold on every duty presented to us with an energy and courage that knows defeat, and will not listen to the doubts of the croaking.

Sisters, let me entreat you, do your duty faithfully, and when those dear ones return, you will not only meet a reward in their kind welcome and approving smiles, but will learn that useful exercise and refreshing breezes, and now and then a day in the hot sun, have brought light to your eyes, roses to your cheeks and a thrill of life to your veins that were never yours before.

True, you have given (or allowed to go) to the rescue of your country your support and home; but don’t wait for these to return and find you in sorrow, listlessly waiting for them, or some movement of Providence to bring light out of darkness, or hope out of despair; but arise, don the costume at once graceful, becoming and useful, and help to work out the salvation of our country, ever praying to, and trusting in, God, who is the author of our faith.

This is no fancy advice; ‘tis wrought out by experience of near two years, and my health is better. I can endure far more fatigue and enjoy life far better, for I have the consciousness of knowing that I have toiled and sacrificed for the good of my country; and when my husband returns our joy will be mutual, that we have together helped her rid of her enemy, slavery. May this be our privilege. Go thou and do likewise. Mrs. C.H.

EDIT: Additional Related Clips:

Clip Excerpt from The Prairie Farmer, Clip Short dress March 1855 Clip The Oneida Circular The Ohio Cultivator 1854 b The Ohio Cultivator 1854Clip Miseries later

This whole book is worth a download. It is on Google Books.Clip Watercure 54 aClip Watercure 54 bclip Punch

Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Bees and the Covenant

Back in February I shared a couple posts on the Ladies’ National Covenant and the Women’s Patriotic association for Diminishing the use of Imported Luxuries. Elizabeth Topping shared this clip from MMe. Demorest’s Mirror of Fashion, September 1864 regarding the bee being worn in connection with the Covenant.

Bee clip“With an earnest desire to see the Covenant we have made accepted by every lady in the land, we have adopted for our Badge the Honey Bee, wrought according to nature.”

Looking further into this bee, we see it discussed:

Ladies Cov clip 4“The emblem of this Covenant was a black or gilt bee, worn as a pin fastening the national colors, upon the hair, arm, or bosom, as a public recognition of membership. “

This rural/farming newspaper had a short article and advertisement:

Ladies Cov clip 5


From Dressed for the Photographer

Ladies Cov clip 6  Dressed for the Photographer

This citation/endnote in Buying Power, by Glickman :

Ladies Cov clip 7  citation lead

Leads us to look for New England Women’s League, for Diminishing the Use of Luxuries during the War , which also gives us Resolutions with Pledge  and To the Women of New England: In a War Like Ours, which Involves the Life and Prosperity of a Whole Nation, Every Patriotic Citizen Owes to the Country the Greatest Possible Amount of Service.

A letter to his sister, Lily, from John Loathrop Motley discussing his thoughts on the League.

Ladies Cov Clip 8 a Ladies Cov Clip 8 b Ladies Cov Clip 8 c Ladies Cov Clip 8 d

Ack, a lead snag, potential headache, or what a difference 30 years makes. There is another NY/NE Women’s League that appears in the 1890s. This muddles up searching.

**For those considering wearing a bee pin as part of their impression, I would like to emphasize the late war dates surrounding it. The Covenant was established in May of 1864, leaving a year (or two “reenacting seasons”) suitable for its wear.


Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm  Comments (2)  

A Year in Millinery Fashion – 1864

Left – The bonnet is of black and white crin, or horsehair, bound with black velvet, and trimmed with a natural feather. The inside trimming is of scarlet geraniums, and the strings are of black ribbon.

Right – Leghorn bonnet, with violet silk cape, and trimmed with violet-colored flowers. (Godey’s, May 1864)


What I’m Up To

I have had a couple of inquiries of late as to what I am up to. I suppose I ought to share. Well, share what I can as some of these projects are secrets for now.

In the sewing realm, it is bonnets, bonnets, bonnets. I have had one particular special request I was excited to receive. This follows a few requests I was quite honored to make. In the next few months, you will see a few 1860s and 1850s bonnets from the French plait that I just love becoming available. For personal sewing, I really, and I do mean I really, need to get going on the new corsets and the matching fabric dresses. Those need to be ready for wear soon. (It is a good thing “spring break” is a week away. But, just how much can I really fit into one week while still taking care of a husband?)

In the research, writing, educating realm, I have a trio of secret projects. I am waiting for a “thumbs-up” on two of them. The other is in the information acquisition and planning stage, with the in-depth writing taking place this summer.

I have fallen way behind on the Commemorative and Memorial project. I feel quite bad about that. I have such a vision for it. Hopefully, I’ll get back to the details and the making of the objects soon. As these will each hopefully be relaxing projects, the spring and summer might be best suited for them.


Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

April 2nd, 1864

Young Women and Soldiers.

The Testimony of a Soldier

Eds. Rural New-Yorker: – Not withstanding a long acquaintance with your paper has taught me that it is now opened to local complaints or derogatory personalities, I am here at your sanctum asking for space in the Rural to enter a complaint against an individual. The fact is, I have been misused, – yes, misused, neglected, – to be explicit, and that, too, by a young lady.

I found an advertisement lately in the Waverly Magazine, inserted by a young lady, soliciting correspondents in the army. This young lady deeply regretting the custom that debarred her from “sharing the hardships of the camp and field,” was “willing to do anything that would lighten the burdens of the noble ones who went so readily to the rescue of our dear country,” and proposed to do “what little her contracted sphere” would admit of, by corresponding with “the brave soldiers of the Union.”

Now, I had always looked upon this practice of advertising for correspondents as having a rather dubious tendency. But having an ardent admiration, and, as I venture to believe, a pretty good appreciation of the spirit of patriotism- whether exhibited by the sons or daughters  of our excellent country – I could not but encourage it wherever I saw its manifestations. Accordingly I sent this patriotic young lady my compliments, with the assurance that, in my opinion, there could be no more laudable motive to action than patriotism, and that America had great reason to be proud of her daughters. “And as for your commiseration for the soldier’s lonely lot,” I wrote, “it is, indeed, noble and philanthropic.” I then attempt to inspire her with a conception of the great measure of happiness that I derived from anticipating the reception of a letter from her. As her object was declared to be “mutual pleasure and improvement,” I proposed as the subject of her first letter one of the following: – Woman’s sphere – her duties, etc. The relationship of the sexes. The origin and destiny of man. The operations and organic laws of the human mind. A criticism on Edward’s Philosophy of the Will; or, if she did not incline to any of these, to take some ordinary subject likely to be fraught with interest to a soldier, shut out as he is from the society of the good and learned. Then, having closed with an earnest appeal to her not to disappoint me, nor keep me long in suspense, I inclosed [sic] this in an envelope and directed it according to instructions, and marking it “Soldier’s Letter,” dropped it into the mail box and went about my duties “rejoicing.”

Now I have waited these five weeks for an answer, and lo! It cometh not! And I say it is really too bad for this young lady to treat me so. But can any one, male or female, phrenologist or moral philosopher, bachelor or “matrimonially inclined” widower, tell my why it is that I have been so used? –if so, let him now speak of for ever hold his peace.

Some hair-brained fellow may presume to insinuate that to have insured the “consummation I so devoutly wished” I should, at least, have paid the postage on the letter I sent, if not inclosed [sic] a stamp to pay return postage. But such a suggestion would be in very good keeping with the reputation of its author.

Such a course would manifest a depreciation of the young lady’s patriotism. It would evince a lack of faith in her modest and praiseworthy pretensions, and would, therefore, be as unkind as it would be unprofitable. No, no! it cannot bet his, for I have no doubt that she would willingly pay postage both ways as an evidence of her devotion to – her country! But oh! I fear the Fates are against me.

But of this enough. I wish now to say a few words seriously to the noble and patriotic daughters of America who read the Rural. This practice of advertising for correspondents in the army is indeed dangerous. I have no doubt that many well meaning and really worthy young women are caught in this snare, by the belief that they are rendering the brave soldiers and important service in that way. But let me tell you that you are egregiously mistaken. I am a soldier, and write what I know to be so. Whatever may be the spirit thrown into the letter the soldier writes, he does not write in good faith, nor does he look upon you as virtuous women, worthy of his respect. And this is the very reason why he pledges so freely his fidelity and his honor, while he seeks to lead you on step by step. That there may be exceptions to this I will not deny, but this is the general rule. I could not desire to say anything to lower the esteem of our brave boys in the army; there are many of America’s noblest sones in the ranks; but it is not the young men of worth that insert, or reply to, advertisements of this character. The soldier’s life is indeed a hard one. Its many privations and exposures make it quite a contrast to the lives we were leading at our pleasant home are to crest of old Mars cast its ominous shadow upon our land, and it is the earnest wish of every true soldier that “when this cruel was is over” he may receive every acknowledgement of respect and appreciation to which his worthy deeds shall entitle him, from the fathers and mothers, and, most of all, their virtuous and patriotic daughters. But don’t think us any the better now for being soldiers, for when we do our best we are only doing our duty.

If you really want to relieve our sufferings, there are many ways in which it can be done; but don’t deceive yourselves with the belief that you are doing any good by advertising yourselves as correspondents of soldiers, or by replying to any of the many advertisements inserted by them in the columns of some of the unprincipled papers. So far is it from being a benefit, that it is directly the reverse – an actual injury. It is a temptation to the soldier to try experiments, while it exposes you to any insults his unhallowed purpose my recommend; for, I repeat, her does not respect you as a woman “safe in her virtues.”

The monotony and idleness of camp life, with the consequent restlessness, beget much mischief within the soldier’s mind. Add to this the love of adventure that the life begets, and you will have the prive secret of the looseness of morality in the army. Go to New York, Elmira or Washington, and behold the thousands of soldier’s wives (I) there, and take warning, and be discreet.

Does my writing thus plainly deserve and apology? I would not have you think, fair daughters of America, that I look upon your virtues as being all in jeopardy. But this evil is already wide-spread, and has set on foor a work of woe and despair. This eivil is a monster “who stole the livery of the Court of Heaven to serve the devil in,” and is, therefore, doubly to be guarded against.

Stockade Camp, Va, March, 1864. Max Kipp.


Published in: on April 2, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  

Scallop Brim Straw Bonnet

2014-04-01 06.15.04-1 2014-04-01 06.15.40-1 2014-04-01 06.16.11-1

For weeks, okay months, I’ve been wanting to replicate the scallop brim edge on extant bonnets & hats. I finally figured out a good way to make the braid wavy and a way to attach it that I am happy.  Scallop edge 1

Published in: on April 1, 2014 at 5:47 am  Leave a Comment  

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